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Ballito is a small serene resort town on South Africa's warm sub-tropical east coast, about 42 kilometers north of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.
Ballito has a beautiful natural bay, facing the Indian Ocean, with wonderful sea views and exquisite immaculate beaches, and is encircled by sloping green hills rising behind. The lovely setting led to the development of a holiday village on the seafront amidst luxuriant tropical vegetation
Ballito is the heart of the Dolphin Coast. Schools of dolphins can be seen frolicking in the clear shallow waters of the bay. In summer people watch the whales on their yearly journey up north to Mozambique. It is peaceful and quiet most of the year, but has shops, hotels and all necessary amenities.
Ballito is away from noise and crowds, ideal for people wanting a restful time surrounded by nature and the sound of waves. It is perfect for families with children, a blissful place to enjoy the open air, with golden beaches and wonderful views of the turquoise ocean.
There are four beaches and the water is warm all year. The beaches here are exceptional. Willards, the main beach, has Blue Flag Status with shark nets and lifeguards, and is for swimming and body boarding. Salmon Bay is the surfing beach. Clarke beach also has shark nets and lifeguards, and little rock pools. South of this beach, on Ballito Point, is a big Olympic size tidal pool built between the rocks. The pool water is refreshed by the high tide every day. There is also Thompsons Bay beach for picnics, beach games and tanning.
There is a 2 ½ kilometer scenic boardwalk curving along the beachfront for walking and jogging. Fishing licences are available and there is prolific birdlife for bird watching. Game reserves and nature trails are nearby. There are interesting scenic drives to explore the countryside and untouched beaches around Ballito. Horse riding, golfing, deep sea fishing, scuba diving and microlight flights are available. There is a reptile park also.
Ballito has three shopping malls, so although far out of Durban, it is not entirely out in the wild. There are luxurious spas, restaurants and bars, and a nightclub. The massive Gateway shopping centre and Umhlanga are 30 minutes away on the motorway, for excursions to a busier part of the world, with more shops, nightclubs and movie houses.
Ballito has numerous coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants to choose from. Below are some local and international favourites!
Beira Alta is a sophisticated restaurant, and specialises in portuguese and south african food. Mo-Zam-Bik, relaxed, friendly and near the beach, is another restaurant with portuguese and african cuisine.
Al Pescatore, with italian cuisine and seafood, is above Clarke beach overlooking the ocean, so one can sit out on the deck and watch the dolphins and surfers.
Thava Indian Restaurant does delicious fresh aromatic curries and is elegant and upmarket. The Thandi Restaurant at Zimbali, with a calm atmosphere in the midst of indigenous forest, has breakfasts and lunches with continental, indian and south african food.
The Crayfish Inn, in a stunning setting overlooking Ballito in the tower of La Montagne Hotel, is a charming restaurant for fine dining, with a wide range of fish dishes and salads.
Fiamma Grill, with picturesque natural forest surroundings overlooking the ocean, has italian Tuscan style food. The Beach Hut is popular and suits families with children. Zara’s Cafe is a trendy casual bistro in the Lifestyle Centre, for breakfasts and lunches, and a tempting selection of cakes.
There is a wealth of luxury hotels, guest houses, and terraced apartments on the seafront. A wide choice of excellent accommodation is available, due to the fortuitous position of rising hills overlooking the sea. There are comfortable guest houses in lush tropical gardens, and self catering beach apartments with magnificent sea views, as well as b&b’s. There are many places available right on the beach, something not often found, another reason Ballito is a favourite holiday destination.
There is no reliable public transport, as Ballito is out of town, so it is best to hire a car. King Shaka airport has made access easy however, and it is a short 20 minute drive on the N2, with not much traffic after Umhlanga. There is also a daily Airport Shuttle Service to Ballito. The N2 continues up the South African east coastline towards Mozambique in the north. Durban and the south coast are in the opposite direction.
Air: Ballito has no airport of it's own, however guests can arrive at Durban's King Shaka airport and either drive, taxi or shuttle the 42kms trip north through to the town.
Car:It is best to either take your car or rent one while visiting Ballito. It is easy to rent one in Durban or online.
Taxis/cabs: There are taxi services available in Ballito. These tend to be expensive if you travel further that a few kilometers in them.
Ballito was originally sugar cane farms. The beauty of the surrounding landscape and perfect setting is why it is called the “Pearl” of the Dolphin Coast.
In 1954 Ballito was declared a proper town.
Hotels, luxury apartments and houses were built along the seashore as it became a popular family holiday destination.
Once the King Shaka airport opened in 2010, access to Ballito became direct and the business sector developed a large commercial park nearby on the N2.
Many young families have moved there in recent years, following the business developments, and schools and churches were built. The population has now grown to 20,000, so Ballito is no longer only a holiday resort town.
Several private and exclusive gated complexes were built around the town, like the Zimbali Coastal Estate, a 700 hectare estate in a protected natural environment of coastal forest with miles of deserted beach.
Ballito is Italian for 'Little Ball', and is sometimes misspelt as Balito, Balitto, Ballitto Ballitoo or Baliito.
For a more down to earth experience there are guest houses. Less expensive than hotels, they offer a more homey environment, as well as more privacy. Converted from a private house it’s a much gentler environment and for those with furry friends, there are also pet friendly options. They are usually well situated with shops and places of interest nearby. Being so small it offers a much more personal and intimate attention to it’s upkeep, leaving you with a more polished and homely experience.