On the Indian Ocean, Port Elizabeth is in Eastern Cape Province and one of South Africa's most important ports. Many tourists come here, as it is at the eastern end of the Garden Route that stretches long around the tip of South Africa to Cape Town. Together with the numerous other smaller cities in the area, including Despatch and Uitenhage, Port Elizabeth is known as Nelson Mandela Bay, after the anti-apartheid activist and South African president Nelson Mandela, who was born in Eastern Cape but some 300 miles further east in Mvezo. Dominating it is the visually impressive Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, which was – as were many stadiums in the nation – built for the 2010 World Cup soccer finals. (Some Port Elizabeth event venues also date from this time.)
The Port Elizabeth Airport (PLZ) is only two miles south of the center of the city and receives flights from five domestic South African cities.
Chief among convention venues in Port Elizabeth, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Conference Centre is the city's principal gathering spot, whose spaces include the MMM Loubser Auditorium for 200 persons, the 654-seat Goldfields Auditorium and the Up-Market Theatre for 160 persons. When the students are not studying, the center can host larger groups and offer accommodations.
Hotel venues in Port Elizabeth that are perfect for meetings include the 173-room Radisson Blu Port Elizabeth, which has eight meeting rooms covering more than 6,000 square feet of space, including a large ballroom; the 170-room Summerstrand Hotel, which has seven function rooms for groups of up to 300 persons; the 114-room Protea Hotel Marine, which has room for events of up to 90 persons; the 97-room Paxton Hotel, a swish space; and the 63-room Kelway Hotel Port Elizabeth, which has two meeting rooms for 100 and 16 persons, respectively.
Choices for unique gathering venues in Port Elizabeth could include Humewood Golf Course, which is ranked one of the top 10 courses in South Africa (and regarded as its only true links course), with a clubhouse, bar and restaurant; beautiful Sahara Lodge in the pristine Amakhala Game Reserve, full of wild animals and with numerous, memorable function spots; Riverside Hall & Marquee, which has a tent and two halls for up to 400 persons; Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum (formerly the King George VI Art Gallery); and Bayworld, a large entertainment complex that incorporates the Port Elizabeth Museum, Oceanarium, Snake Park and No. 7 Castle Hill Museum, and has function space in such areas as its Dinosaur Hall, with life-size dinosaurs and room for 60 guests, Marine Hall, which also has re-creations of famed animals such as the once-thought-extinct coelacanth and room for 300 and Bayworld Exhibitions & Events Centre, with room for 280, among its other spaces.
Restaurants in this buzzing city include Ginger, a fine-dining spot that has private dining room for 16 persons; Blue Waters Cafe, which sits beside the ocean and does resemble a ship, down to its porthole windows; Coachman Restaurant, which has several spaces for private groups, including an oceanside terrace; Country Restaurant, which is within the Boma Reptile World complex, which contains a corporate venue in an old house for 140 persons and dining space under thatch and amid forest; and Royal Delhi for Indian cuisine.