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The Top 10 Best Beaches in Durban

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Susan Swanepoel

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Susan Swanepoel

Author: Susan Swanepoel - 13 February 2024

Last Update: 26 April 2024

Durban is a hotspot for beach lovers with miles of soft, golden sands, a subtropical climate, warm waters, watersports destinations, and family-friendly amenities.

A Durban beach holiday is just the ticket if you’re looking for a great seaside escape. Pack your towel, sunglasses, umbrella, and sunscreen as we take a closer look at the top 10 best beaches in Durban.

1. Umhlanga Main Beach

One of the most iconic beaches to visit on a South African holiday is Umhlanga Main Beach, which boasts a long stretch of soft, golden sand, making it an ideal, picturesque setting for beachgoers.

Safe swimming conditions, stunning sunrise views over the Indian Ocean, close proximity to many accommodations, restaurants, and shops, and family-friendly amenities add to this destination’s charm.

Umhlanga Beach, north coast of Durban.
Umhlanga Beach, north coast of Durban.

Other attractions at this beach include Umhlanga Pier (great for fishing and scenic views), the Umhlanga Lighthouse (perfect for pictures), and the nearby town of Umhlanga Rocks, with its vibrant atmosphere and variety of dining options.

Beyond soaking up the sun, popular activities at Umhlanga Main Beach are surfing, kitesurfing, SUPing, and bodyboarding.

2. Golden Mile Beach

Spanning approximately four miles along Durban’s beachfront, Golden Mile Beach features an extensive sandy shoreline, offering beachgoers ample space to relax, play, and enjoy the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

This destination offers travelers a lively atmosphere, spectacular views, easy access from the city, public ablution facilities, and a range of restaurants.

Golden Mile Beach in Durban
Golden Mile Beach in Durban

Nearby attractions include the Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World, bungee jumping at Moses Mabhida Stadium, a family-friendly amusement park, and the North Beach pools.

Apart from swimming and sunbathing, this stretch of coast is popular with surfers, kitesurfers, skaters, cyclists, and runners. Keep an eye out for sporting events, festivals, and live performances.

3. Thompson’s Bay Beach

Situated in the suburb of Shakas Rock, just north of Ballito, Thompson’s Bay Beach is nestled within a sheltered cove with rocky outcrops at either end. This picturesque setting gives the beach a secluded, scenic atmosphere.

Its crystal-clear, turquoise waters are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding, and natural rock pools are perfect for exploring and observing marine life.

Thompson Bay, north of Balito
Thompson Bay, north of Ballito

Attractions here include a stunning tidal pool that’s great for kids and Shaka’s Rock monument, a prominent rock formation with interesting historical significance and cultural heritage.

Grassy areas and picnic spots next to the beach are perfect for families. The shoreline is great for leisurely walks and beachcombing, and the cove’s stunning views are popular with photographers.

4. Sodwana Bay

Located in the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sodwana Bay is famous for its pristine beaches and abundant marine life. Vibrant coral reefs and a wide array of fish species make it a prime destination for diving and snorkeling, and its mild climate allows for year-round visits.

Sodwana bay pristine beach near a lagoon and Isimangaliso wetlands
Sodwana bay is a pristine beach near a lagoon and Isimangaliso wetlands

Numerous diving operators in Sodwana Bay offer guided dives at iconic sites like 2 Mile Reef and trips to shallower reefs for epic snorkeling adventures.

Beyond watersports, Sodwana Bay offers travelers idyllic locations for long beach walks, sunbathing, and birdwatching. Another attraction here is the nature trails, which give you ample opportunity to explore the area’s rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes.

5. Zinkwazi Beach

Situated along the North Coast, this stunning coastal area is known for its natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere. Long stretches of soft sand, beautiful views of the Indian Ocean, and picturesque landscapes make this protected coastal area an excellent choice for an idyllic beach getaway.

The nearby lagoon and coastal forests attract a variety of bird species, perfect for birding and photographic safaris. Relatively secluded and safe, Zinkwazi Beach is ideal for families looking for a quieter seaside experience, while Zinkwazi Lagoon is popular for canoeing, fishing, and tranquil picnics.

If you’re looking for an uncrowded and serene beach escape near Durban, it doesn’t get much better than this.

6. Rocktail Bay

Located near the border of Mozambique, Rocktail Bay is renowned for its pristine, secluded beaches, rich marine biodiversity, and untouched natural surroundings. Falling within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (IWP), this destination’s remote location makes it ideal for travelers seeking a more off-the-beaten-path experience, and the bay itself is famous for its vibrant coral reefs and a wide variety of fish species.

Loggerhead turtle in the sea at Rocktail Bay
Loggerhead turtle in the sea at Rocktail Bay

Beyond offering beachcombing and blissful relaxation, Rocktail Bay is a prime nesting site for loggerhead and leatherback turtles, and visitors can take a guided tour to see hatchlings making their way to the ocean. Guided scuba diving and snorkeling trips are available, while those who prefer to stay on dry land can explore the many trails of IWP. Some tours here include visits to nearby communities to experience local culture.

7. Trafalgar Beach

Trafalgar Beach boasts a tranquil, uncrowded environment, making it ideal for unwinding in superb natural surroundings. Its stretch of golden sand is perfect for sunbathing, beachcombing, picnics, beach games, and leisurely walks along the shore, while at low tide, visitors can explore exposed rock pools teeming with marine life.

With its consistent waves, Trafalgar Beach attracts plenty of surfers, and even a few surfing instructors are operating in the area. Conditions are safe for swimming, and the beach is popular with families looking for a laid-back atmosphere, while nearby coastal vegetation and dunes provide ample opportunities for nature walks and birdwatching.

8. Pennington Beach

Pennington Beach boasts a picturesque coastline with soft, sandy shores and pristine waters. Part of the Umdoni Park Nature Reserve, this beach’s gentle waves and lifeguard patrols ensure safe swimming conditions, ideal for travelers seeking a family-friendly holiday experience.

During low tide, nature enthusiasts can look forward to exploring exposed rock pools and tidal pools.

In between swimming, sunbathing, picnics, and barbecues, visitors can explore the trails of Umdoni Park Nature Reserve, renowned for its birdwatching and wildlife encounters.

Pennington Beach is also a popular spot for fishing, offering anglers a number of fishing spots along the shore. While not as famous for surfing as some other Durban beaches, this destination still offers occasional surfable waves.

9. Ushaka Beach

Part of the Ushaka Marine World complex, Ushaka Beach offers a blend of beach activities and entertainment at the marine park. This destination’s sands are ideal for sunbathing, and swimming conditions are safe, with lifeguards and shark nets.

An ideal spot for family outings, the beachfront area has picnic facilities, shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, giving it a vibrant and lively atmosphere.

Durban Ushaka beach pier along golden mile beach
Durban Ushaka beach pier along Golden Mile Beach in South Africa

Main attractions on a beach holiday here include an aquarium, dolphin shows, water slides, and a water park, while the pier and promenade offer spectacular ocean views and coastal scenery.

Because of its protected swimming areas, the beach isn’t known for its surfing, but visitors can still enjoy activities like kayaking and paddleboarding.

10. Blue Lagoon Beach

Situated near the mouth of the Umgeni River, Blue Lagoon Beach offers travelers picturesque views of the river and ocean. While there are designated swimming areas with lifeguards on duty, the beach’s windy conditions make it more suited to kitesurfers and windsurfers.

The beachfront features picnic spots, grassy areas, and recreational facilities, which make it great for families.

Bridge over Umgeni River at Blue Lagoon
Bridge over Umgeni River at Blue Lagoon

The promenade along the beach is perfect for running, cycling, or just relaxing seaside walks, while anglers can enjoy fishing from the shore or numerous nearby fishing spots. The estuary area is great for exploring nature, birdwatching, and observing coastal wildlife.

Durban’s beaches offer pristine natural settings, water sports, protected areas, and family-friendly conditions, making them ideal destinations for sun lovers of all ages.

Speak to a safari expert at Discover Africa today about planning your tailor-made, luxury beach holiday to the golden shores of Durban.

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