Conifer Beach House

About Us

Conifer Beach House consists of two period styled houses, which have been lovingly renovated by owner Junita van Dijk.
Conifer Beach House is a beautiful 4-star guesthouse situated in the bustling beachfront neighbourhood of Humewood, Port Elizabeth. The guesthouse offers 15 stylish yet comfortable rooms in two spacious period style houses. The houses have been carefully restored by owner, and renowned choir conductor and music lecturer, Junita van Dijk. Built almost a 100 years ago, these Conifer houses have witnessed much change.

Then and now

The two colonial style houses with elements of Cape Dutch Revival – typical of that time – were constructed in 1927. Humewood was still fairly undeveloped in the early 1900s. During the 1920s, though, the area earned a reputation as the “playground” of Port Elizabeth, with its swimming beaches, the development of the promenade, Happy Valley, camp grounds, roller skating rink, and bathhouse. Some of these structures have since been lost as a result of the flood of 1968, and the beach front today looks very different from back then. But remnants of the original promenade and the slipway – which was used in ship repairs – hint back to those early days.

Junita bought the first Conifer house in 1996, and the second in 2018. She lovingly restored both buildings, being careful to retain their stylistic integrity, including their characteristic wood flooring and high ceilings. The stylish rooms are equipped with all the modern amenities guests may need, yet also capture the essence of days gone by. Paintings and old photographs depicting the history of the beach front adorn the dining room and lounge walls, paying homage to the past. Junita expertly merged old and new by creating a homely yet elegant, contemporary and eclectic interior that complements its colonial exterior.

The lush garden with refreshing swimming pool was Junita’s creation. Large coco palms and wild banana trees were planted to hem Conifer in from the outside world. The terrain was very rocky – they sometimes needed a jackhammer to plant the trees! But they also found water here, and today use their own, pure, borehole water on the premises. The garden now provides a peaceful ambience, which spills into the rooms via their private entrances. Here guests find a hide-away where they can immerse themselves in the symphony of bird songs, and reminisce about simpler times.

Humewood in days gone by. A painting depicting the slipway and associated pillars still visible today.
The lush Conifer garden provides an escape from the outside world

With a song in the heart

Conifer is a social and artistic outlet for Junita, and this talented musician certainly has much creativity to share. Junita earned distinction for founding the Nelson Mandela University choir in 1994, the first multicultural choir in South Africa. At that time, the notion of multicultural choirs was very unique, and reflective of post-apartheid South Africa. Junita embraced the challenges of this new endeavour. Under her tutelage, this acclaimed choir charmed audiences around the world with their unique blend of African and Western sounds. They performed at festivals and international events, even before president Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Pope John Paul II. Junita continued to conduct the choir for 25 years until 2019.
The Nelson Mandela University (NMU) choir performing under the direction of Junita van Dijk. (Photo credit: NMU)
The NMU choir on tour
Junita’s husband, Péter Louis van Dijk, is also a well-known international composer and orchestral conductor. Péter composed several operas and orchestral works. Some of his best-known works include the Mandela Trilogy, an opera about the life of former president Nelson Mandela performed across Europe, the United States, Dubai, and Hong Kong, and Horizons, made famous by the King’s Singers, but which has since been sung all over the world. Conifer encapsulates the creativity, beauty, and celebration of life shared by this musical duo.

Home away from home

So, Junita channelled her passion for gardening, interior design, cooking, and skill in merging cultures, to carve out this home away from home. Over the years, some famous guests visited Conifer, including celebrated opera singers Mimi Coertse and Deon van der Walt, and rugby captain Siya Kolisi, who led the South African team to victory in the 2023 Rugby World Cup. But all are welcome here. Junita and her team are deeply committed to make everyone feel as if they are home, always providing a little more, something extra. The conifer team enjoys hosting small, intimate events at the guest house, including weddings, and has even hosted a book launch.

As a seasoned traveller – in South Africa and abroad – Junita is always ready to help guests plan their trips, advising them on the most interesting and beautiful destinations, particularly along the Garden Route. Even breakfast here is a departure from the typical, and the Conifer Special has become a favourite among guests. Conifer Beach House is a labour of love, and an oasis of calm for the weary traveller. Managed by the very competent Ester Theron and Michael Tourney, guests can be certain they will receive the very best care any time of the day.

But come, and experience Conifer Beach House for yourself.

Make Your Reservation Today