Amapondo Backpackers, Port St. Johns

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Amapondo Backpackers Reviews

The long-running Amapondo Backpackers is firmly established on the Garden Route trail along South Africa’s coast.

The Location

Located between East London and Durban, about one hundred ten kilometers south of the N2 highway, Port St. Johns is the gateway to some beautiful beaches that's almost deserted during the week. However, come the South African school holidays, particularly in December and January, it bursts into life with hundreds of city dwellers coming to party. If you want to relax and get away from it all, don’t come during this time! If you want to join the party, you must book ahead.

Mthatha (also spelled "Umtata") is the gateway city on the N2. All buses traveling the route between Cape Town/Port Elizabeth and Durban stop here, from where you can get minibuses from Circle Triangle Mall, for the two-hour ride to Port St. Johns. From there, occasional shuttles take you the four kilometers to Second Beach and pass right by Amapondo Backpackers, or you can call them for a pick-up.

Rooms and Bathrooms

Perched on a hillside just two hundred or so meters from the beach, this grungy property has a few double and family rooms, camping space, and a number of dorms. These are the cheapest beds in the area, so they can book out fast (local workers also use these beds). The large, twelve-bed dorms are bunk beds quite tightly squeezed together but with an open central space. They all have duvets and the mattresses are ok, but starting to sag a little. There are no lockers, but some lower bunks have a bedside shelf. There is a shortage of power points in the rooms and throughout the hostel. The toilet and shower blocks are reasonably clean and hot water is available twenty-four hours a day.

Common Spaces

There are tables and chairs on the verandas of all the accommodation blocks and there is a large common kitchen for guests’ use with gas kettle, toaster, microwave, four gas burners, and fridge. Free tea and coffee are provided and all waste is recycled. All life here, however, revolves around the bar/restaurant. It has a pool table and there is a wide selection of drinks. There is also a pretty good menu with daily specials at very fair prices. However, the service can be very slow, particularly when the bar is busy. Also, the music seems to get louder and louder as the evening wears on, so you might want to adjourn elsewhere, if you want a conversation over your meal.


Amapondo is a fairly rustic place and won’t be to everyone’s taste. The place seems to need a thorough spring clean and paint job, as it’s looking the worse for wear. Peeling paint and grimy walls and surfaces are showing in the dorms especially, and there is a general lack of love for the place here. We get the feeling that the owners are coasting on their reputation a bit. This is also the only backpackers’ place we have stayed in South Africa, where you must pay for the Wi-Fi. It’s not cheap either, and the signal is really poor. The bar is popular with locals and people are free to wander the property, which can’t be good for security. We were also left a note on our beds, like everyone else, telling us that we were being charged for a play that they were staging in the bar that evening. If we didn’t want to watch, we had to keep the note until check-out to get our money back -- very cheeky! Although this place has definitely seen better days, it is heavily involved in various community projects, especially in health and education. You can volunteer your time or contribute to these very worthy causes, so Amapondo is still worth supporting.
Photos taken by the reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
Amapondo Backpackers
Bar Dining Area
Pool Table
Open fire
Common Kitchen
Accommodation Block Veranda
12-Bed Dorm
Londonroad Staff Reviewer
Published on 2016-12-18

Fantastic vibe, great staff, excellent place!

Really enjoyed my stay at Amapondo. The staff was very accommodating and responsive leading up to my stay, which was crucial since my schedule was in flux for a couple weeks prior. Once there, the high level of service just kept on. The property itself is quite excellent. The rooms are clean and well appointed, the bathrooms/showers also clean and the shared kitchen is very easy to work around. And, if you don't feel like cooking, the on-site restaurant is quite good. The bar area is lively with wi-fi, table tennis (ping-pong) and the occasional poker late night poker game. My favorite thing about Amapando, and Port St Johns as a whole, is the great vibe there. There's a reason why people come to PSJ and never leave. And, most of those people hang out at Amapondo.


Great place to relax

Spent 4 days at Amapondo, beautiful backpackers right on the beach. Lots of waterfalls in the area, and trekking in the jungle. amazing!!!


Very relaxed hostel, close to a beautiful swimming beach

Amapondo is a beautiful hostel, friendly staff, great food in the restaurant, and altogether a great place to chill out. daily activities are free and loads of fun. came for two days, stayed five. (fifth night free). highly recommended.

Rolfe Damlier

Port St Johns is about a five hour drive south of Durban. Amapondo is a great beach getaway, as well as being a base for charity work. The Amapondo Backpackers hostel offers free daily activities to explore the area, and many guests end up staying longer than planned.

This hostel is not too close to the town and takes approximately forty minutes to walk there, but it is less than a five minute walk to the beach, with sea views from the balcony. There is off road parking and the hostel runs a free shuttle to the Baz Bus stop at another hostel five minutes' drive away. The only way to get to Port St Johns is by Baz Bus, self-drive, or a long distance minibus, but being so remote makes this a safe idyllic town.

The dorms are large and spacious, with a mixture of bunks and singles. There are no locks to the doors but guests can leave valuables with the owner to put in the safe. There is a unisex toilet block with interesting tiled floor and murals past the dorm rooms. It has three WCs and two sinks, plus a sink for washing clothes. There are three external showers with half the front wall being open, being at the top of a slope and overlooking trees, and having hooks for hanging clothes and large enough to change in. There is another unisex toilet and shower block in the middle of the complex, near the open seating area.

By the car park are the private rooms and behind this is a large open self-catering kitchen. There is a decked walkway along the front of the hostel, which passes the outside sitting area. This has a bonfire with wooden seatings, lit at night with drum sessions often happening. There are also picnic tables on a deck area. Next to this is the bar / restaurant with two sofas as the only indoor seating area. Further along is the reception, which has a book exchange and a few curios for sale. After this there are hammocks and outside sofas off the walkway, with the dorms and end toilets and external showers. The bar can get busy in the evenings, but the atmosphere is generally relaxed, chilled and sociable. Socialising and meeting other people is helped by the daily free activities the hostel run, such as a guided walk to a waterfall, visiting a local mudcave, and a drive to watch the sunset from the top of the mountain.

This hostel is a favourite of many and it is easy to see why. It is both close to the beach and remote enough for those who want to enjoy relaxed seclusion, but with all the activities and nightly drum playing around the open fire, it is also easy to meet new people, as well as getting out and about.

Helen Resuggan

For Port St Johns it might be one of the better accommodations as this town doesn't really have anything to offer, but compared to the other places in South Africa that we stayed at it was the worst one. The hostel is very quiet and easy to find, the staff was friendly and helpful. Still, the location of the hostel very close to the township of Port St. Johns doesn't make you feel comfortable. Double en-suite rooms are not available, but the thing that put us off most were the bedbugs that bit us during the night. If you want to visit Port St. Johns this hostel might be the best option for backpackers but we recommend that you skip the whole area and spend more time somewhere else.

Judith & Jens

The hostel is beautifully located with the best ocean view in town. You can enjoy the fantastic view from one of the hostels many hammocks. The staff are kind and helpful, which gives the place a nice atmosphere. The nice bar, with the crazy and lovable bartender Ed, plays loud music till late at night, so if you're a light sleeper this is not the place. Clean showers and a nice spacious kitchen also make this hostel one of the very best!


Good location but 5 km from town. Fortunately I have a car, and that helped. The place was a bit of a mess and a bit short of showers because they were refurbishing part of the hostel. Some local kids were working there and they used the kitchen, which they left in a disgusting state every night. I hardly dared to eat out of the dirty pots and plates. But I met some fantastic people there. I appreciate what Annie, the owner, does to help all the surrounding community.


At first I couldn't see what the fun was about. In the end I ended up spending six days there instead of the originally planned two. It was amazing. The owners are great people, and the barman Ed is the best barman I have ever met. The beach is a two-minute walk away, and they regularly gather up everyone at the hostel to make trips to the waterfalls or to the beaches. This is the best hostel I've stayed at in South Africa bar none.

Big Ben

More reviews...


We’re situated in Port St Johns in the former Transkei. Known for its vibrant fusion of both breathtaking scenery and vibey African atmosphere, it’s easy to see why people call it the Jewel of the Wild Coast and keep returning.

Amapondo Backpackers is nestled in a tropical rainforest on a hill and all our rooms, campsite and en suite accommodation overlook stunning 2nd beach, which is only one of many reasons why your stay here will be a memorable one.

After you’ve woken up to the soothing sounds of the sea, go join our guides for one of our daily hikes, swim, surf and get a holistic massage. Or if you simply can’t get over how beautiful it is, take in the view a little more from one of our hammocks, or sit back and spoil yourself with our healthy smoothies, fresh seafood and other delicious meals in our restaurant.

Being an active part of our local community, we’ve also initiated several volunteer projects and came to learn how much there is to gain, when you have something to give. So, if you think that’s an

experience you would like to make, too, check out VOLUNTEERING in the menu for more info and work with us!

Video of Amapondo Backpackers

Here is a video of Amapondo Backpackers. The video gives you a better understanding of what you can expect.

Location and Contact


Address: 2nd Beach Road, Port St. Johns (Port Saint Johns), Eastern Cape, South Africa

Amapondo Backpackers is listed on the following booking sites:

Not listed at Hostelworld


Website Amapondo Backpackers Port St. Johns
Phone Number: +27 47 5641344/ 0833153103
To add or correct information for this listing, please use the Listing Correction Form.

Facilities and Amenities

Family-Friendly Hostel

Party Hostel

Solo Traveller


Luggage Storage


Safe Deposit Box

Wi-Fi in Lobby/Commons

Bike Rental


City Tours



24 Hour Security

BBQ Grill


Board Games

Book Collection/Exchange

Concierge/Info Desk

Credit Card Payments

Entirely Non-Smoking



Hot Showers



Lounge Area

Outdoor Seating

Power Point/Sockets in Rooms

Airport Pickup

Lockers in Rooms

Wheelchair Accessible

Wi-Fi in Rooms


Service Animals

Genders: Males & Females

Max. Age: All Ages

Min. Age with Parent (dorms): All Ages

Min. Age with Parent (private room): All Ages

Min. Age without Parent: 18

Checkout: 10:00 (10 AM)

Curfew: No Curfew

Lockout: No

Maximum Stay: Unlimited

Minimum Stay: 1 night

Open Dates: All Year

Reception Hours: Limited Hours

Size: Medium (30-60 beds)


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