Durban and the South Coast

The most populous city and busiest port on the east coast of Africa, Durban is a vibrant and interesting city set in the municipality of eThekwini (a Zulu name meaning ‘Place of the Sea’). A substantial Indian population and sticky subtropical coastal climate combine to give Durban a slightly Asiatic feel, but the city’s main attraction is its fine beaches and sunny coastlines. The urban setting will appeal to those seeking a more down-to-earth, lived-in experience than one tends to associate with other beach resorts.

Durban and the South Coast_Common dolphins Common and Bottlenose dolphins frequent the waters of Durban and often interact with surfers

Durban lies midway along the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, a 200 km stretch of subtropical Indian Ocean frontage stretching from the Tugela River Mouth south to the border with the Eastern Cape. This is South Africa’s most conventional beach holiday destination, a beach nirvana strung with palm-fringed expanses of broad white sand. Unlike Cape Town, the beaches around Durban cater mainly to domestic holidaymakers from landlocked Gauteng, and thus tend to get congested over school holidays and long weekends (especially around Christmas and Easter), but to be quiet at other times.

Durban and the South Coast_Tugela River Mouth Tugela River Mouth | Credit: Fresh Water Health

Highlights

South Africa’s most resort-like urban beach, Durban’s Golden Mile is divided from the CBD by the pedestrianised OR Tambo Parade. Protected by shark nets and patrolled by lifeguards, the beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing and surfing, though it can get very crowded during peak season.

Durban and the South Coast_Durban beaches Warm waters from the Indian Ocean make Durban beaches a pleasure to visit during the summer | Credit: South African Tourism

TheuShaka Marine Worldhouses the largest aquarium in the southern hemisphere. Marine life is on show where dolphins, seals, sharks, rays and penguins are the main attraction. Attached to this child-friendly installation is the Shaka Wet ‘n’ Wild Waterworld, a family fun park that incorporates the country’s largest waterslide.

Landmarks associated with Durban’s Indian population include the golden-domed Juma Mosque, the largest building of its type in southern Africa, and the less central Alayam Hindu Temple.

Durban and the South Coast_Hindu Temple Durban Hindu Temple in Durban | Credit: KZNIA.com

The central Durban Botanical Garden includes fabulous collections of prehistoric cycads and rare orchids.

Durban’s most ecologically important conservation area,Beachwood Mangroves Nature Reserve offers a rare opportunity to see mangrove dwellers such as the brilliant mangrove kingfisher and quirky mudskipper fish from a wooden boardwalk.

The popular resort town of Umhlanga Rocks, 20 minutes drive north of Durban, is home to the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, where lifelike replicas of various sharks and rays can be viewed along with an audiovisual display emphasising the importance of these oft-maligned creatures in the marine ecology.

![Durban and the South Coast_Kingfisher Beachwood Mangroves Nature Reserve]https://www.discoverafrica.com/images/Ansie_Coetser_Mangrove_Kingfisher.jpg) A mangrove Kingfisher in the Beachwood Mangroves Nature Reserve | Credit: Ansie Coetser

Ballito, 40 km north of Durban, is a thriving and well-equipped upmarket resort town with a 2.5 km long beachfront promenade and plenty of family friendly activities on offer. Its Willard Beach is ideal for swimming while Boulder Beach is popular with surfers.

Durban and the South Coast_Ballito Ballito is a popular holiday spot for locals

Carved by the Mzimkulwana River, the euphorbia-studded Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve is run through by several walking trails from which bushbuck, blue monkey and a vast array of colourful forest birds might be seen. White-water rafting and abseiling can be undertaken outside the reserve. Durban and the South Coast_Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve The suspension bridge over the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve | Credit: Wild 5 Adventures

A succession of wonderful beaches run along the 120 km stretch of coast south from Durban, among them Amanzimtoti, Umkomaas, Scottburgh, Port Shepstone, Margate and Ramsgate. Excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities are available at reefs and wrecks offshore of Amanzimtoti, Umkomaas and Shelley Beach.

Protecting a forested river gorge on the Eastern Cape border, Umtamvuna Nature Reserve offers some lovely coastal and forest hiking, and it harbours various small antelope, along with a breeding colony of the endangered Cape vulture.

Durban and the South Coast_Cape Vulture The Cape vulture is a protected species due to the fact that many are killed for traditional medicine and their nesting sites destroyed as a result of habitat loss | Credit: The Flacks Wildlife Photography

Practical information

Airport Durban King Shaka International Airport

  • Durban is connected to Johannesburg, Cape Town and many other large centres by several flights daily. All flights land at King Shaka International Airport, 35 km north of the city centre. The usual car rental agencies are available here, and airport shuttles and taxis are available to get you to the city center or elsewhere on the coast.

  • There is no shortage of hotels in Durban and the city is also serviced by many B&Bs and backpacker hostels. Hotels and resorts can also be found all along the coast flanking Durban, with Ballito and Umhlanga Rocks being particularly well endowed when it comes to stylish upmarket lodges.

  • Indian cuisine is well represented in Durban and good seafood can be had throughout the region.


Popular South Africa Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | South African Bush and Beach Journey (10 days)

South African Bush and Beach Journey (10 days)

Explore the magic of Cape Town followed by the Scenic Garden Route and finally the Big Five members at the Kruger National Park...

 | Forray into the Wilderness of Sabi Sands and Madikwe  (7 days)

Forray into the Wilderness of Sabi Sands and Madikwe (7 days)

Our selection of South Africa's top safari lodges and game reserves are guaranteed to suit every taste and budget...

 | Kruger, Cape Town and Mauritius Bush & Beach Safari (15 days)

Kruger, Cape Town and Mauritius Bush & Beach Safari (15 days)

Spend your days discovering the fine beaches of Cape Town, enjoying the remarkably untamed wilderness of the Kruger National Park and swimming the pristine beaches of Mauritius....

 | Sabi Sand Game Reserve Safari (4 days)

Sabi Sand Game Reserve Safari (4 days)

You'll trek Africa's Big Five members in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve...

 | Cape Town and Kruger Family Safari (8 days)

Cape Town and Kruger Family Safari (8 days)

Combine the best that Cape Town and the Kruger National Park have to offer – beach and bush – for the ideal family holiday...

 | Sabi Sands and Okavango Delta Big Five Tour (8 days)

Sabi Sands and Okavango Delta Big Five Tour (8 days)

Explore the famous reserve that offers exceptional game viewing and sight the elusive Sitatunga antelope in the Okavango ...

 | Exhillarating Garden Route Adventure on a Royal Enfield Motorcycle (7 days)

Exhillarating Garden Route Adventure on a Royal Enfield Motorcycle (7 days)

Experience the Cape and Garden Route in a thrilling motorcycle safari ...

 | South African Midlands Meander (15 days)

South African Midlands Meander (15 days)

Explore the Eastern Cape, Lesotho and KwaZulu Natal...

 | South Africa’s Garden Route Odyssey (14 days)

South Africa's Garden Route Odyssey (14 days)

Discover one of South Africa’s best kept secrets - the Garden Route...

 | Big Five Safari in the Kruger National Park (3 days)

Big Five Safari in the Kruger National Park (3 days)

Encounter the Big Five safari and discover the elusive leopard...



You might also like

Luxury safari holiday in South Africa

The five-star Singita Lebombo in the Kruger is an example of safari luxury A must-for for anybody with a taste for bush luxury is a stay at one of the small and exclusive camps or lodges set in private reserves or concessions such as the Kruger concessions, Sabi Sand, Madikwe, Phinda and the vicinity of Addo Elephant National Park. Typically these lodges combine chic Africa-themed…

A South African holiday as a couple

There are plenty of romantic getaways in South Africa that are perfect for couples | Credit: Madikwe Safari Lodge Most parts of South Africa are suited to couples. However, it’s easier for couples travelling without children to self-drive (which also helps keep costs down) and ensures plenty of privacy and quality time together. Many couples opt to visit areas like the Garden Route,…

South Africa in August

Game viewing is exceptional in the Kruger from August Johannesburg and the highveld is mild to cool by day, cold at night, and dry. Cape Town and the Western Cape is warm by day, cool at night, and receives regular rainfall. The Kruger Park and surrounds is hot by day, cool at night, and dry. August is an ideal time for beach holidays on the Indian Ocean coastline of KwaZulu-Natal…

Is South Africa safe?

Public safety initiatives have been implemented in large cities to help curb crime | Credit: The CapeTowner Crime rates are high but as a rule not directed specifically at tourists. The main crime hotspots areas are probably the CBDs of the three largest cities (Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban) but an element of risk exists everywhere. That said, the overwhelming majority of…

Solo traveling through South Africa

Solo travel through South Africa is a pleasure. Locals are friendly and you’ll be able to meet many people Most parts of South Africa are suited to solo travel. Locals are very friendly, and will often go out of their way to make single travellers feel at home. Cape Town in particular is suited to those who relish urban attractions, whether it be museums, galleries and theatres, or…

Wildlife in South Africa

Several Big Five reserves protect the more charismatic large mammals associated with the African savannah. Foremost among these is the Kruger National Park and abutting private reserves, but other key safari destinations include iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Madikwe, Pilanesberg, Addo Elephant National Park and a variety of smaller and more exclusive private…

Health care in South Africa

Although South Africa has a public healthcare system, it is underfunded and understaffed, and facilities tend to be overcrowded, with some 20% of the country’s doctors employed to serve around 80% of the population. By contrast, private medical facilities compare favourably with anywhere in the world, and also tend to be affordable. ...

South Africa in April

Lush foliage can hide wildlife in its fold during April Johannesburg and the highveld is warm by day, cool at night and might receive occasional rainfall. Cape Town and the Western Cape is mild by day, cool at night and might start receiving occasional rainfall to mark the start of the wet winter period. The Kruger Park and surrounds sees the seasonal shift towards autumn with…

Ready to start your adventure?

+27 (0)21 422 3498
   discover.africa
    info@discoverafrica.com
    Mon - Fri: 8AM - 9PM GMT+2