The North Coast of Natal is a dramatically beautiful coastline from north of Durban, to St Lucia, towards Mozambique. South Africa is blessed with 2500 kms of stunningly beautiful coastline, and this 280 kms of lush green coastline along the east coast overlooks the warm Indian Ocean.
The North Coast ranges from one extreme to another. You can experience either the sophisticated busy commercial and residential centre of Umhlanga outside Durban city, or on the other extreme, serene wide open spaces at the protected St Lucia Wetlands.
Along the way you can see small holiday towns like Ballito, Salt Rock, Umhlali, Tinley Manor and Zinkwazi, and Richard's Bay, one of the country’s largest harbours. The coastline and terrain becomes increasingly wild, undisturbed and exquisite with glorious beaches and ancient dunes, up to the quaint and delightful little town of St Lucia in the grasslands of the Park.
The St Lucia Wetlands were proclaimed South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in 1999, on account of its superlative beauty and global importance. These protected wetlands are Africa’s largest estuarine system, and the massive St Lucia lake has hundreds of crocodiles, herds of hippos, pelicans and other wildlife.
This Nature Reserve is also near the famous Hluhluwe and Umfolozi Game Parks, which is very popular with international tourists.
10 Reasons You will Love Visiting the North Coast
Swimming and Surfing
There are endless exquisite beaches where you can relax.
The long sandy beaches are warm, perfect for watersports all year. You can be assured of safe swimming at Umhlanga, Umdloti and Ballito as the beaches have shark nets and lifeguards on duty. There are natural rock pools, lagoons, beautiful tidal pools and estuaries for the children to paddle about in.
2.Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Diving sites are all along the coast. If you are looking for wilder more remote beaches, with great reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving, Tinley Manor is a tiny village with glorious sea views. There is a gorgeous tidal pool as well as rock pools, and great reefs for snorkeling.
3. Angling and spearfishing.
Cape Vidal has long been a favourite destination for deep sea fishermen and you can charter boats there. Angling is excellent all along the North Coast and there are many rock and reef formations, perfect places for you to fish from.
4. Hiking and Walking
There are many Nature Reserves with hiking trails and guided walks. At Umhlanga there is the Lagoon Walk and Hawaan Forest Walk, guided walks for you to explore the preserved coastal dune forests. The wild rugged coastline with long stretches of beach is great for long walks along the Indian Ocean.
5. Outdoor Adventures
The warm climate offers you a chance to be outside in fresh air enjoying a wealth of outside activities. You can choose from quad and mountain biking through sugar cane fields, golf, horse riding, jet skiing and boating.
6. Shopping, Cinemas and Entertainment
Umhlanga Ridge has the huge Gateway Theatre of Shopping with over 400 shops. As the biggest shopping centre in Africa it has everything you could need, as well as 70 places to eat and 18 cinemas. There is also the Wave House and other entertainment for you to take the children. The Sibaya Casino for gambling is in Umhlanga Rocks.
Crocodile Creek is another interesting place to visit, with 7000 crocodiles and a large variety of other curious animals. There are many family orientated entertainments and gardens for picnics. You could also take the children for fun to have a picnic at Flag Animal Farm near Ballito, where they have saved all manner of animals from birds and bunnies to goats.
7. Scenic Drives
You just must go for drives along the North Coast, as the views of the countryside are spectacular, landscapes of gorgeous hills with rich verdant subtropical vegetation and trees, beautiful rivers and estuaries overlooking superb beaches.
You can visit some of the most pristine beaches off the main freeway. Monkeys are everywhere.
There is also the bridge over the magnificent Tugela, the biggest river in Zululand, which plummets down from the Drakensberg mountains.
There are beautiful Hindu temples built by the Indian community who settled along this part of the coast.
8. Dolphins and Whales
The Dolphin Coast is the part of the North Coast which stretches from the Tongaat River in Zimbali, to Zinkwazi and the Tugela River Mouth. You can have fun seeing thousands of resident Bottlenose dolphins that play in the surf, from the beach. The little resort towns on the Dolphin Coast are the busiest and most popular holiday destinations.
Another interesting way you can see whales is by microlight, if you are brave enough . There are Microlight Coastal Safaris, what a way to see the fabulous views of the coastline ! The main whale migration is from July to December.
There are many excellent restaurants along the coast. They range from fine dining to family friendly where you can take children. There is Italian, Chinese, Indian, Portuguese - you can find whatever you prefer.
10. Virginia Airport
Small planes and helicopters can be chartered at the small airport in Durban North, also a great way to explore the beautiful coastline. They offer a variety of different tours around the area for you to choose from, even one going right up to St.Lucia.
There is a wealth of accommodation available. There are luxury 5 star hotels overlooking the sea, of the highest international standards, efficient business hotels in Umhlanga Ridge, lovely terraced apartments on the seafront a short walk away from a swim in the ocean, self catering holiday houses with beachfront access and wooden chalets in the forests further north. Everything is available for whatever you and your family might want.
The modern state of the art Shaka airport opened in 2010. It is on the north coast near Umdloti, and many rental car agencies and shuttle services operate from here. The north coast has excellent roads, the N2 and M4. There is not a public transport system to recommend.