South Africa is fortunate in having a long coast line upon which sea shells can often be found. JEFFREYS BAY, in the Eastern Cape, stands out for those many people who collect sea shells! It is not only local Conchologists who visit Jeffreys Bay but also visitors from different parts of the world or those who exchange Jeffrey Bay sea shells via the postal system. The gatherers may be collectors enjoying the variety of the shapes and colours of the shells and also those who are the more serious and studious individuals.
Winter is often the time when one finds fragile shells – cowries, paper nautilius – swept up onto the shore by the strong sea waves. This is when one observes people upright, on hands and knees filling a variety of containers. If one is not quite sure of the excitement created by the shells and the idea of collecting specimens, take a walk to the Jeffreys Bay Shell Museum where one can, in a quieter surrounding, discover the reason.
Walk about the town and one will view different ideas relative to shells. Small dolls dressed in many costumes as well as a number of other ideas the maker can think of. This may be a fair part of an individual’s income.
Jeffreys Bay has another very well known attraction – the surfing industry. It has been stated that it is one of the top surfing areas in the world. The media often write and discuss surfing events that have or are going to be taking place there. For the men and women who were once but are no longer involved in the sport, or for the younger generation who want to learn more about it there is the Jeffreys Bay Surf Museum. There are tributes to earlier pioneers as well as displays of earlier boards made of wood, foam and glass.
It is not absolutely clear as to how the town got its name but it is thought to have been named after a Captain Jeffreys – this around 1840 – who sailed along the coast as a trader or possibly as a whale catcher. One reads that his crew contacted scurvy, began to recover in the area and in time the main beach began to be known by his surname.