As a youngster, I remember often visiting the sub-tropical south coast of KwaZulu Natal. I recall the gorgeous beaches, the banana plantations and the dense evergreen tropical forests. This is a region renowned for all things ocean: surfing, deep-sea fishing, diving and a whole host of other activities.
The south coast has been a playground for South African and international tourists for many years. I had not been back in the area for a while and jumped at the opportunity of exploring this Awesome coastal region again.
I was excited to be winding my way down the old coast road in my hire-car, past many familiar towns and villages; en-route to our first stop at the Selborne Golf Estate Hotel & Spa in Pennington.
When I add, that the season of our trip was mid-winter, you may well cry; ‘Winter’, what a daft time to visit. However, the weather during the winter months on the KwaZulu Natal coasts is glorious. Our arrival coincided with the annual sardine run, 24°C temperatures and big blue skies. It was just as I had remembered it; a holiday paradise.
KwaZulu Natal South Coast
Travelling south through the glorious scenery of this tropical region you will discover many Awesome towns and holiday resorts to enjoy a fantastic beach holiday. The South Coast stretches from the holiday town of Amanzimtoti, just outside of Durban, all the way down the coastal route to Port Edward. Popular South Coast beach towns include Amanzimtoti, Hibberdene, Pennington, Margate, Ramsgate and Southbroom.
Apart from ideal beaches to soak up the glorious sunshine, the South Coast is a perfect choice for surfing, scuba-diving, snorkelling and shark cage diving. Fishing is popular and there are many local ski boat operators to charter for deep-sea fishing expeditions or shore fishing is also rewarding. For the less active, enjoy a day on one of the glorious beaches or watch out for dolphins and whales frolicking in the ocean waters. The South Coast has lots for everyone to enjoy.
The Sardine Run
Our arrival on the South Coast coincided with the annual Sardine Run. A natural phenomenon which occurs between May and July, when millions of sardines migrate up South Africa’s east coast, from the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal.
These sardine shoals are massive. Visible by satellite, these famous sardine shoals travel in seething masses along the coast with shoals stretching up to fifteen kilometres long, four kilometres wide and as much as forty metres deep.
Following the migration are a host of predators’ intent on taking advantage in this amazing feeding opportunity. Birds, mainly Cape gannets, which often indicate the presence of a shoal, along with dolphins, sharks, whales and game fish follow the shoals up the coast.
Dolphins are largely responsible for rounding up the sardines into bait balls. Once the sardines are rounded up, the feeding frenzy commences. Sharks (mainly the bronze whaler) and other gamefish, Cape gannets and other birds, as well as, Bryde’s whales, strike into the seething mass of sardines in a feeding frenzy. Check this South African Tourism Board video out to see just how amazing this natural spectacle really is.
Pennington Luxury Hotel
Renowned for its incredibly beautiful 18-hole golf course; the Selborne Estate, Hotel & Spa offers a choice of accommodation from traditional hotel rooms to exquisite villas. Selborne is just over an hour’s drive south from Durban’s, King Shaka International Airport.
Located in an exquisite picturesque estate in Pennington, Selborne is a magnificent base to explore this lush South Coastal region of KwaZulu-Natal. Enjoy the many magnificent beaches, explore Oribi Gorge or self-drive down the coast through charming holiday towns like Uvongo, Margate, Southbroom and onto the Wild Coast.
The world-class 18-hole, par 72 golf course has been masterfully crafted to offer you a challenging round, while golfers can take in unhindered sea vistas at nearly every hole. The tropical climate of the South Coast is perfect to enjoy year-round golfing experiences, and the area is also known as South Africa’s Golf Coast, with 11 of Golf Digest’s top-100 courses in the area.
Apart from golf and the lush tropical gardens, guests at Selborne can relax at the La Vita Spa, which is fully equipped with a sauna, express gym and four private treatment lounges.
Trafalgar Luxury Boutique Hotel
Further down the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal you will discover the exquisite Boutique Hotel: Days at Sea Beach Lodge. This is a perfect location to chill out and from which one can explore the South Coast region.
This boutique hotel provides a truly luxurious stay in exquisitely decorated suites. The hotel offers superb service with meticulous attention to detail. The Days at Sea Beach Lodge has direct access to the beach and features an Awesome infinity pool overlooking the Indian Ocean. Accommodation is available in luxurious suites and villas on the Trafalgar beachfront. The Honeymoon Suite is glorious.
The air-conditioned guest rooms offer stunning vistas and a terrace. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with shower, bathrobes, and complimentary toiletries. The hotel restaurant offers a selection of fusion cuisine with Mediterranean and Asian influences, taking advantage of the local seafood catch.
For golf lovers the San Lameer Golf Course is just an 8-minute drive, the holiday town of Southbroom is just 10 minutes away. The Wild Coast Sun casino and resort is just 20 minutes further south. This is a superb base to explore the surrounding areas.
Other great places to stay include:
The Albatros Guest House
The splendid Albatros Guesthouse is ideally located in Margate within walking distance of the beach and the vibrant town centre. This 4-star luxury accommodation offers guests a selection of luxury air-conditioned en-suite rooms.
With stunning views from the pool deck or your own private balcony, from where you can relax and watch the whales & dolphins.
La Cote D’Azur
The Awesome La Côte d’Azur is a wonderful self-catering resort located at the northern end of the mile-long Margate beach. Overlooking the Margate Beach each apartment offers magnificent views of the Indian Ocean and the beach below.
This resort offers great access to not just Margate but also the popular Uvingo and the many wonderful beaches in the area. This highly rated resort offers a choice of two and three bedroom units, well appointed and with magnificent views. All the units are sea-facing and have a private balcony with a private charcoal braai. Simply divine.
The Gorge Private Game Lodge & Spa
Want a change from the beach location, well If you love nature, then head inland to the exclusive: ‘The Gorge Private Game Lodge & Spa’. This Awesome property is nestled in the pristine area of Oribi Gorge just 35km’s inland from Port Shepstone.
This is a ‘photographer’s and nature lover’s paradise’. The exclusive lodge offers guests access to 5,000 hectares which make up the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve. A truly spectacular wilderness area, with breath-taking vistas and a variety of wildlife.
Dining at The Gorge is heavenly. Head Chef, Chris offers a contemporary menu with a country twist using locally sourced fresh ingredients. Tuck into a scrumptious breakfast or enjoy the fine dining in this unique and gorgeous setting. For something really different have your dinner in the Boma under the African night sky, it is unbelievable how gorgeous the night sky is here away from the light pollution of the city.
The luxurious, eco-friendly designed villas provide guests with incredible vistas over the magnificent Oribi Gorge canyon.
Travelling to South Africa presents a wealth of truly amazing holiday options. You can traverse many landscapes, interact with many cultures, enjoy many wildlife encounters, indulge in the finest cuisines and select the very best world-class wines.
The various cities, towns, and villages along many of the South African tourist routes will delight you. Check out my Blog Post: Planning a Safari to South Africa if you need additional advice and information.
My next blog post ‘The KwaZulu Natal North Coast’ will be published next week, so join me, as I explore the St Lucia, Hluhluwe, Imfolozi and the iSimangaliso Wetlands.