North Coast travel guide
Sunshine, sea, and sand… the classic summer holiday trio, only here you get it all year round. The subtropical North Coast of KwaZulu Natal follows the Indian Ocean from just north of Durban all the way up to Richard's Bay. Come here for swimming, diving, dolphins and turtles. The North Coast is also where you’ll find the World Heritage Site of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, with its protected ecosystem of beaches, lakes and forests. If you’re driving along the N2, you’ll want to veer off onto some of the smaller coastal roads, leading you to charming seaside villages. Families can be sure that there are animal farms, bike trails and Zulu villages to visit. In addition to a strong Zulu cultural presence, a large Indian community settled here long ago, bringing spice markets and tasty Indian cuisine.
Where to find exquisite beaches:
- Sodwana Bay – in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, this bay with dramatic curves and well populated coral reefs is one of the best diving spots in the world. Also known for turtle breeding, snorkelling and whale watching.
- Ballito – Town of happy holidays, Ballito is much loved by locals and foreigners. Willard Beach is superb for swimming while Boulder Beach is known for its good surfing. The annual Mr Price Pro surfing contest, attracting many international competitors, is held here.
- Salt Rock - Lovely swimming beaches, a large tidal pool, dolphin spotting and humpback whales in season
- Shaka’s Rock – A great choice for families, this is a residential coastal village with plenty of accommodation, a family friendly beach and tidal pool.
- Sheffield Beach - A dramatic setting, with high cliffs. An excellent snorkelling spot, thanks to the many rock pools.
- Umdloti – A conservation area with excellent surfing, diving, dolphin and whale watching, and plenty to do after the beach.
- Umhlanga - With its red and white lighthouse and lovely stretch of sand, Umhlanga has long been a favourite resort among South Africans. Due to this favoured status, it has a proliferation of high-rise luxury apartment blocks and a roaring social life for most of the year.
Combine your beach holiday with an adventure inland:
iSimangaliso Wetlands and the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park – Off the beaches the Park has acres of forests and lakes. Visit Lake St Lucia where you can spot hippos, crocodiles, flamingos and pelicans. At the Western Shores and Charters Creek a guided game drive will show you elephant, rhino, buffalo and giraffe.
Harold Johnson Nature Reserve - Have a picnic at the Harold Johnson Nature Reserve, where you can walk in the grassland and look over cliffs and gullies. Spot zebra, antelope and loads of coastal birds. Nearby, check out the cultural museum and historical sites like Fort Pearson and the Ultimatum Tree...
Zimbali – Take a walk through indigenous sub-tropical forests enjoying the spectacular birdlife, or horse ride along the beach at sunset. Or make your golf name on the famous Zimbali Country Club golf course.
KwaDukuza-Stanger - The town is
home to King Shaka's memorial monument at the spot where his body was thrown
into a pit. The centre of town has an interesting Eastern vibe and you can take
tours from here to other Shaka sites.
Empangeni - Visit the Empangeni Arts and Crafts Centre for products created by local communities. Or mosey into the past at the Empangeni Art and Cultural Museum on Turnbull Street, where the Harrison collection documents the lives of the first sugar farmers. The museum also displays traditional Zulu art.