Down the centuries the Wild Coast has become the graveyard of many luckless vessels, some of them laden with treasures from the East. To date most of these treasures have defied salvage attempts. The Portuguese, the first Europeans to ply the Cape route to the East suffered more losses than any other nation. The first recorded wreck was the Sao Joao (Saint John) in June 1552 and Port St Johns was named after this ship.
The most celebrated shipwreck was that of the (British) Grosvenor which ran aground in 1782. The vessel carried 150 crew & passengers and according to the bill of lading, a treasure in bullion. The 136 survivors broke up in little groups, who struck out independently in search of assistance. Six sailors reached a farm near present-day Port Elizabeth and a search party found 12 more survivors. Despite many salvage attempts down the years only a few cannons, and a number of gold and silver coins have been found.