Visit Port Edward

Port Edward Travel Information

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The Sao Joao Shipwreck

In 1552 the Portuguese ship São João ran aground near modern day Port Edward. It was the first cargo ship to wreck on the coastline of South Africa.

It was travelling from India back to Portugal, carrying a cargo of pepper, porcelain, beads, tapestries and other items, reportedly "worth a million in gold".

Of the approximately 600 souls aboard, some 100 lost their lives during the wrecking. Only 21 of the survivors eventually reached Mozambique after embarking on a journey north along the coastline in hope of being rescued by passing ships.

The wreck was only found in 1980s by Tim Maggs.

The Portugese Monument has been erected at Splash Rock, Port Edward, and the annual Portuguese Mariners Food and Wine Festival, held as part of the Sardine Festival, comemmorates the lives lost.

The São João and Chilli Route, organised by the Port Edward Business Association, is a modern day "treasure hunt" leading visitors to numerous local businesses, in memory of Manuel de Souza and the mariners he led up the coast.

Porcelain shards believed to be from the wreck of the São João still wash up on the beaches near Port Edward.