South Africa is blessed with more than 2 500km of ocean-lapped coastline, spanning four provinces and offering a staggering degree of variation in landscape.
Only one of these coasts, however, has been granted the title of Wild.
The Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast stretches from East London until virtually the province’s border with KwaZulu-Natal, and is home to some of the best beaches in South Africa.
The coast pulls the Garden Route’s lush, yellowwood-dominated vegetation northwards, creating a shoreline that blends the warm, biodiverse waters of the Indian Ocean with the many ancient rivers of the former Transkei.
Lying just beyond East London, inconspicuously sheltered beyond the quintessential rolling, green pastures of Chintsa, lies a haven of isolation, tranquility and luxury – Prana Lodge.
A TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice award winner in several categories for the past few years, the luxury getaway and spa hides itself neatly away in dense, monkey-ruled forests.
Visitors are treated with the kind of hospitality one might imagine is usually reserved for royalty. From the moment you enter Prana’s confines, you are stripped of all burdens and stresses – it truly is a retreat.
Being a Wild Coast gem, its gorgeous pool isn’t its only swimming spot – Prana is a custodian of 21km of nigh-untouched beach.
The sand stretches well beyond the limits of your eyes, and is soft and pure - a hark back to a time when much of South Africa truly was wild.
The unspoilt sands of Chintsa. Credit: Mikail Baker
Prana offers seven separate suites, crowned by the exclusive and elite Diamond Villa, which boasts superb views of the shore well within the confines of luxury.
Inside the Diamond Villa. Credit: Prana Lodge
Six of the suites are equipped with private plunge pools, and all are fitted with any modern amenity one could need – including televisions.
The plunge pool outside the Diamond Villa. Credit: Prana Lodge
Suites are not so much decorated as they are curated. The tastefully-selected local artworks and time-worn Persian carpets lend to a homely, personal feel. Bathrooms are spacious and all rooms include outdoor showers – vital for late-night unwinding in the sanctity of the ancient forest.
The inside of one of the other suites. Credit: Prana Lodge
Most rooms are just a brief walk from the beach – handy on those hot, humid, tropical days.
Let’s not faff around, here. Prana’s cuisine is world-class. It may well end up being the highlight of your stay, especially if you can appreciate innovation in your meals.
Blending Eastern flair with both local and standard Western dishes, the kitchen whips up flavours you’ve likely never experienced before.
A colourful dessert creation from the kitchen. Credit: Prana Lodge
Dishes are conjured up by a team of exceptional chefs who can cater to whatever dietary requirement you may have. This includes halaal meat, a rare feature for a five-star lodge, testament to Prana’s popularity with visitors from the Middle East.
Teatime is an especially elegant affair, giving you the opportunity to fully enjoy the comforts of Prana’s bar area.
Meals are hosted either at the warm, elegant dining hall, under a gazebo in the picturesque garden, or even in the comfort and privacy of your own suite.
Your chef really will go the extra mile for you – if you are set for a pre-breakfast departure, brunch packs will be ready for you when you leave. It’s the small touches that leave the biggest impressions!
Prana Lodge is perhaps best known for its award-winning spa. A particularly noteworthy feature of the treatments on offer is the sourcing of certain ingredients, which are picked from the spa’s very own garden.
The wellness centre shows many signs of an Oriental influence. Credit: Prana Lodge
Couples on honeymoon breaks can be pampered together, and a steam room, sauna and jacuzzi are on site to ensure a proper wind-down after the rub-down.
For an especially memorable experience, try the ‘Moonlight’ experience, a combination of heavenly massages with a cocktail and dinner under the stars.
Despite its name, the Wild Coast will have you tame as a house-cat after just one day. It’s a truly remarkable place to unwind, with the endless beaches instilling one with a sense of perspective that’s the perfect remedy for the weary.
Prana Lodge is a genuine gem of the Eastern Cape, and its plethora of blissful experiences makes it one of South Africa’s premier spa retreats.
Accommodation: 9/10 (It's all you need, and a bit more)
Dining: 10/10 (The food is some of the best you'll ever come across)
Leisure: 9/10 (For relaxation and pampering, it's world class. The beach is incredible)