KwaZulu-Natal beaches

Beaches, KwaZulu-Natal

Durban beach, KwaZulu-Natal. Photo by Richard MaddenThe coast of KwaZulu-Natal stretches for 600 km from Port Edward in the south to Kosi Bay in the north. All along this magnificent stretch of sub-tropical coastline are beaches to match the very best on the planet from golden, sandy beaches perfect for families looking for a fun-filled vacation by the sea to wilder, more remote stretches of wilderness on the north coast.

Looking out over the balmy waters of the Indian Ocean, Durban’s ‘Golden Mile’ (actually 6kms) stretches along the beachfront punctuated by activity parks, pools, fountains, walkways, gardens and market stalls. South Beach is ideal for families with children as it is protected by a breakwater. All swimming beaches are protected by shark nets and many have professional lifeguards in attendance.

Four beaches along the South Coast south of Durban have been awarded Blue Flag status - Hibberdene, Margate Main beach, Marina/San Lameer and Ramsgate - all meeting the Blue Flag organisation’s strict standards for water quality, environmental education and information, safety and services. The most highly rated South Coast beaches include Southport (Anerley), Banana Beach, Bazley Beach, Beach Terminus, Big Tree Beach, Clansthal, Glenmore Beach, Margate Beach and Marina Beach. The latter is a pristine stretch of coastline just south of Southbroom close to the awesome Mpenjati river mouth and lagoon.

Ballito, about 40 kms north of Durban, is the North Coast’s largest town. Willard Beach is the town’s main swimming beach with a scenic boardwalk and spectacular views. The beach is very safe and patrolled by lifeguards with shark nets to protect it. Ballito’s second beach, Clarke Bay, also has lifeguards and shark nets while Salmon Bay is a popular surf spot.

Generally considered to be among the best beaches along the North Coast are Zinkwazi Beach, Umhlali Beach, Tinley Manor Beach, Thompson’s Bay Beach, Sheffield Beach, Shaka’s Rock Beach, Salt Rock, Blythedale Beach, Clark Bay and Tugela Mouth. The North Coast is also known for its tidal pools which provide safe, enclosed areas for children to snorkel. Examples include Salt Rock, Charles Pool at Thompson’s Bay north of Ballito, and two well-maintained pools at the southern end of Ballito itself.

North of the Tugela River, the coastline of Zululand has wilder stretches of coastland where the dunes are larger and the coastal forest more dense. Many beaches are not shark netted and extreme caution must be taken when swimming. However, beaches that are safe for swimming include Alkantrand, Durnford Point, Five Mile Beach, Mbonambi Beach, Mtunzini Beach, Newark and Two Mile Beach.

North Coast beaches, KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal’s North Coast - also known as the Dolphin Coast due its large population of bottlenose dolphins - stretches for 100 kms north of Durban to the mouth of the Tugela River. This area of coastline is renowned for its balmy year-round climate, spectacular surf, and glorious beaches. While home to many high class resorts and residential areas, the North Coast has a wilder feel to the coastline south of Durban, especially in the far north.

The North Coast is also known for its tidal pools which provide safe, enclosed areas for children to snorkel. Examples include Salt Rock, Charles Pool at Thompson’s Bay north of Ballito, and two well-maintained pools at the southern end of Ballito itself.

Alastair Rankin
Alastair Rankin, Rocktail Beach Camp
"Rocktail Beach Camp is unique. Our chalets are low-impact three and four star canvas structures high in the forest canopy and we are one of the Top Ten dive sites."

Zululand Beaches
North of the Tugela River, the coastline of KZN has wilder stretches of coastland where the dunes are larger and the coastal forest more dense. Many beaches are not shark netted and extreme caution must be taken when swimming. However, the Zululand coast between the mouth of the Tugela River and St Lucia has many beaches that are safe for swimming including Alkantrand, Durnford Point, Five Mile Beach, Mbonambi Beach, Mtunzini Beach, Newark and Two Mile Beach.

Elephant Coast
The Elephant Coast in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park has many long stretches of white, sandy beaches including Black Rock just South of Kosi Bay, Cape Vidal, First Rocks, Hulley Point, Jesser Point, Kosi Bay Estuary, Leven Point, Liefeldt's Rock, Mission Rocks, Rocktail Bay, Sodwana Bay, St. Lucia and St.Lucia Estuary.

South Coast beaches, KwaZulu-Natal

Everything that makes KwaZulu-Natal such a popular vacation destination for both South Africans and international visitors alike can be found along the South Coast. And the star attraction along its 150kms of coastline from Amanzimtoti, a beach playground just south of Durban, all the way to Port Edward are its stupendous beaches, warm waters, fantastic surf and warm sun.

Often compared to Florida in the U.S., the coastline is a rich mix of golden beaches, lagoons, rocky coves, sub-tropical forests, river inlets and estuaries. The subtropical weather helps produce the lush and colourful foliage for which the area is famous with the southern end dubbed the Hibiscus Coast due to the large number of hibiscus trees.
All swimming beaches are protected by shark nets and many have professional lifeguards in attendance.

The South Coast’s most highly rated beaches include Southport (Anerley), Banana Beach, Bazley Beach, Beach Terminus, Big Tree Beach, Clansthal, Glenmore Beach, Margate Beach and Marina Beach. The latter is a pristine stretch of coastline just south of Southbroom close to the awesome Mpenjati river mouth and lagoon.

Many beaches have adjoining rivers and lagoons providing a safe environment for children and there are numerous nature reserves, hiking trails, snorkelling and diving locations, and some excellent golf courses, including two of South Africa’s top ten courses. Aliwal Shoal is famous for its pristine reef diving, while Protea Banks, a little way further south, is one of the world’s top destinations for shark diving.

An annual feature is the Sardine Run during late autumn and early winter (May, June and July) when billions of small silvery fish (actually pilchards) make their way up the coast pursued by thousands of dolphins, game fish, sharks and sea birds. Whale watching during the winter months is also hugely popular.
Responsible Travel would like to thank Tourism KZN for their sponsorship of this guide
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