The long-fingered palm trees and almost constant sunshine of KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast begin at Amanzimtoti, just south of Durban, and stretch to Port Edward. The safe, sheltered bays are great for swimming with kids. Off the shore of Umkomaas, Aliwal Shoal is one of the best dive sites in the world, attracting amateurs and experts to explore its caves, reefs, tropical fish and ragged tooth sharks. Many beaches adhere to international standards of safety, education and water quality so they have been awarded Blue Flag Status.
Visitors also come to play golf at San Lameer or Selborne Park, hike in nature reserves, see prehistoric rock caves, or take a tour of the hidden lighthouses. Walks on the Hibiscus Coast reveal unusual flowers, shipwrecks and coves. Make your way to the immense Oribi Gorge for waterfalls and views. For extra thrills, choose white water rafting, mountain biking or sway on a suspension bridge across a ravine.
If you visit in June, don’t miss the tremendous spectacle of the Sardine Run. You’ll witness thousands of dolphins, sharks and fur seals, game fish and even possibly a whale or two, all rushing to feed on a shoal of millions of sardines.
Where the best beaches are:
- Oribi Gorge – the colossal and spectacular ravine is part of the Lake Eland Game Reserve with unique rock formations, waterfalls and walking and cycling trails. If you’re looking for a thrill to remember, choose from the world's highest natural commercial abseil, the world's highest bungee swing, and a Wild Slide where you zip line across the gorge.
- Aliwal Shoal – An exciting and challenging dive site that is part of an ancient reef complex. Dives here reveal a huge variety of fish and ragged tooth sharks particularly between August and November. On top of the water this is also a great spot for dolphin and whale watching.
- Protea Banks – off the shore of Shelly Beach, this is ranked with Aliwal Shoal as one of the best shark dive sites in the world, better suited to experienced divers.
- Vernon Crook Nature Reserve – A half hour’s drive from Umzinto is a well-kept combination coastal forest, grasslands, wetlands, rivers and dams. There are a number of excellent roads and trails, designed to show visitors a good variety of habitats. There’s a reception office where you can find information about which hike to choose, and there is a lovely picnic area. You may spot zebra, impala, black backed jackal, blue wildebeest, bushbuck, blesbuck, blue duiker, plus over 300 species of bird.