Sun, Sand, Surf and Nature
Durban is one of the few cities in the world that offers world-class surfing waves right on its doorstep. In addition to surfing, the Indian Ocean is ideal for swimming, fishing, jet skiing, canoeing, windsurfing and kite surfing. Durban’s mild all-year-round climate and 19°C-24°C water temperature make it a summer and winter holiday destination.
Epic beach break surf conditions can be found along the entire Durban beachfront, particularly New Pier, North beach and Battery beach. The Bluff and the North Coast offer powerful reef breaks and the South Coast is home to some world-class point breaks.
One of the five largest aquariums in the world, uShaka Marine World has a a Dolphinarium, a dive tank and a snorkel reef. The uShaka Wet ‘n Wild offers heart-stopping water slides and a 450 m river ride that takes you past the shark tank. The uShaka Village Walk features shops and restaurants, and fine dining on the Phantom Ship.
Up and Down the Coast
The coastal towns of Umhlanga and Umdloti to the north and the Bluff, Amanzimtoti and Warner Beach to the south offer beautiful, unspoiled beaches lined with cafés and restaurants.
KZN Sharks Board (031 566 0400 / www.shark.co.za)
The KZN Sharks Board in Umhlanga has a display hall with life-size replicas of sharks, fish and rays, and offers a 25-minute presentation on the work they do and the importance of sharks in the marine ecosystem. You can also experience a 20-minute shark dissection.
Aliwal Shoal is Durban’s prime diving destination. The reef has many gullies, overhangs, caves and shelves which are home to a vast array of marine life. Local dive operators based in Umkomaas will provide you with equipment and accredited training.
Kayaks, or fishing skis as they are known in Durban, are the best craft for catching fish in the Indian Ocean. This form of angling is especially popular on the outer reefs off the coast of Umdloti.
Dolphin and Whale Watching
Schools of Bottlenose Dolphins move up and down the coast all year round. Humpback Whales (and occasionally Southern Rights) can be seen off the coast from July to November.
The coastal forests, mangrove swamps and river estuaries in and around Durban are rich in animal and bird life, as are the hills and valleys of the Valley of 1000 Hills.
The Botanic Gardens, founded in 1849, is one of Africa's oldest botanic gardens. Situated close to the city centre, it is home to a wide and beautiful collection of sub-tropical trees, palms and orchids.
uMngeni Green Hub (Blue Lagoon Park, Stiebel Place / 082 492 6804)
The Green Hub is Durban’s central portal for eco-tourism information and bookings. Based at the uMngeni River Estuary, the Green Hub offers and arranges canoe trails, and nature and heritage trails in the area as well as throughout Durban. Open 9 am–5 pm daily.
The Valley of 1000 Hills
The Valley of 1000 Hills is a 25-minute drive west of the Durban City centre. Attractions include:
- PheZulu Safari Park that offers game drives, restaurants with views over the valley, a snake and crocodile farm, and authentic Zulu culture, rituals and dancing. (031 777 1000 / www.phezulusafaripark.co.za)
- Tala Private Game Reserve, just a 30-minute drive from the Valley of 1000 Hills. Tala offers plenty of wildlife, game drives, guided horseback rides, bush walks, luxury accommodation and an exquisite restaurant. (031 781 8000 / www.tala.co.za)
Shongweni, Inanda and Hazelmere Dams
There are three major dams close to the city, offering a wide variety of outdoor experiences. Enjoy game drives, nature trails, bird watching, canoeing, mountain biking, fishing, numerous water sports and picnic sites.
Msinsi Resorts and Game Reserves: 031 766 9946 / www.msinsi.co.za