We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
3,544 posts
18 reviews
Save Topic
Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

I live in a land locked province at home, and ache for a beach holiday. We've refrained from taking a Caribbean trip this year because we are going to South Africa in April.

My husband wants to make a stop in Pietermaritzburg, so I figured a couple of days beforehand somewhere along the KwaZulu-Natal coast would satisfy my beach needs.

Here's my confusion: All the tourist material advertises KwaZulu-Natal as being on the year-round warm Indian Ocean; but then there are very few hotels or resorts on the ocean, and I've read in the reviews of a resort at Richards Bay that you can't actually swim there?

Is there somewhere on the beach that doesn't cost several thousand R per night? Is that the price I need to pay to be on the beach in a region in which I won't get mugged? (I've heard several nasty reviews about the areas on the South Coast.) If I pay these prices, am I going to be restricted to looking at the ocean from a few meters away?

Greater Sydney...
Level Contributor
16,372 posts
78 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

G'day amberm,

Have a look at the Umhlanga area which is just 20 min north of Durban. I think will give you what you are seeking. We have booked into the Protea Hotels Umhlanga for 2 people 2 nights total ZAR3540 b&b which is about CA$528. This is rated 3 star which suits us.

There are quite a few B&B's in the area, but we chose to stay at the hotel in a bit of comfort before later moving into KNP bungalow accommodation.

Our daughter tells us that you are having a mild winter so far in Calgary. :)

Pretoria
Level Contributor
1,042 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

Generally go slightly north of Durban, be wary of Durban itself or the south of Durban

These are recommended IMO

1. Anything in upmarket Ballito north of Durban

2. Anything in Umhlanga north of Durban

3. The quiet Cape Vidal beach, one of the best beaches of its kind in SA. This beach is north of Richards bay and near St Lucia.

At Cape Vidal there aren't hotels, but log cabins. This is a safe beach if you are not scared of wildlife, like monkeys, which can be a problem if you leave your cabin open..

Richardsbay is not a great holiday town IMO

Edited: 05 January 2011, 06:56
durban
Level Contributor
1,951 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

Umdloti, Sheffield Beach, Ballito, Umhlanga, Salt Rock Hotel http://www.saltrockbeach.co.za/ is right on the beach and close to all amenities. far north for secluded unspoilt beaches in the midst of a World Heritage Site where nature abounds, Cape Vidal or Rocktail Bay http://www.rocktailbay.com/

www.sleeping-out.co.za/default.asp… Far south ST Michaels, Uvongo, Southbroom, all are lovely beach destinations.

http://www.southernexplorer.co.za/

http://www.thedolphincoast.com/

www.kimssouthafrica.blogspot.com

Howick, South Africa
Level Contributor
781 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

Pietermaritzburg's not that far from the coast. Instead of packing, moving, and unpacking for two days you could consider driving each day to a beach. Or, dependant on your need to be in PMB, stay the whole time "by the beach" or somewhere half way like Hillcrest and drive to PMB. And, PMB itself isn't really a tourist spot.

Perhaps if you gave us a general idea of your plans in the area we could be more specific in our advice.

Pickering, United...
Level Contributor
3,298 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

I think I must have missed out on something, Navigator. We often go to the south coast and have great visits to the lovely beaches there. My last trip to Margate we rented a property overlooking the beach and had a wonderful time. We also take day trips to Scottburgh amongst other places. No hassle. Are you referring to the industrialised area directly south of Durban rather than the south coast in general, navigator? We also enjoy day trips to north coast with Umhlanga and Salt Rock being our usual haunts.

My usual message of caution to amberm. We go to the beach in and around Durban every couple of years as part of our main holiday and love it. It is advertised as a year round destination. Are you are used to the Caribbean, it's warm tropical waters and palm fringed beaches with wonderful resort hotels right on the beach? if so, you're not going to find it here. However, you will find slightly cooler climes, water still relatively warm from the summer and huge expanses of empty pristine beach whose beauty really is awe-inspiring. If you are used to calm waters protected by coral reefs, come prepared for exposed beaches with huge surfing waves. SA doesn't really do resort hotels (don't know why) although a few vaguely similar options exist such as San Lameer on the south coast. However, don't be afraid to try a guest house or B&B in one of the smaller places if it is close to the beach. They're generally great value and high quality.

Have a look at the following website for some ideas. you can search for holiday resorts, boutique hotels etc and by region (handy map!).

http://www.wheretostay.co.za/kzn/

Pretoria
Level Contributor
1,042 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

Safari friend, If you say the South Coast is a fantastic holiday destination, I am so glad for you and the people who offer accomodation there.

Margate is OK, yes. I know it still gets a lot of visitors. I was there last year for work purposes.

And yes, there are still quite good accomodation to be found. But in general the South Coast cannot be compared with Ballito or Umhlanga.

Margate, Amanzimtoti and Hibberdene etc. are older areas and has gone down signifIcantly since my student days 20 years ago when we went there on every occassion.

Scottsburgh for day trips? Are you honestly telling me you think Scottsburgh nowadays is a great seaside town that you want to visit for day trips? I was horrified to see how dirty and run-down the beach area was when I was there last year.

Wow, it just shows you how preferences differ.

.

Edited: 05 January 2011, 13:53
Pickering, United...
Level Contributor
3,298 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

Thanks for the update, Navigator. We didn't make our planned trip last year (as it clashed with the World Cup and we like peace and quiet) so it's good to get a recent opinion. I'll bear it in mind when starting to plan 2011.

Yes, I know Umhlanga is the more upmarket of the resorts. This is reflected in the prices too as one would expect. We have similar debates in the UK about the resort in which I work (Scarborough) and it's more "desirable" neighbour Whitby!

durban
Level Contributor
1,951 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

I disagree with Navigator, I still think that the far South Coast is beautiful and comparable to the more 'upmarket' North Coast. So much hype about the North Coast that it is a shame that so few see beautiful areas such as Southbroom etc.

www.kimssouthafrica.blogspot.com

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
3,544 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

Frommy, we started late, but now that it's arrived, we're paying for it. You should talk to your daughter more often. ;-)

I had been considering Uhmlanga, but the prices are incredible. Even the Protea, a block and a half away from the beach for just under $300/night seems steep. Ballito seems to have even fewer options on the coast.

And given that I'm not all that excited at being even 2 blocks from the beach, staying in PMB and driving to the coast is not going to satisfy me. But at the same time, I don't want to spend the money on a "near beach" hotel and then spend the days in PMB. (My husband wants to watch the downhill mountain bike World Cup races in PMB on Easter weekend. It usually involves standing around outside all day, and then maybe finding a rowdy restaurant to have dinner and talk about biking with strangers. I don't relish the idea myself, and having my hotel be over an hour away so I can't escape temporarily would be even worse.)

Kim, thank-you for the Salt Rock Hotel suggestion. I have submitted a request to see if they have availability. Rocktail Beach Camp is a little out of my price range.

SafariFriend, thank-you for the warning. I actually prefer some surf over the completely protected coasts. My parents spend their winters on the Gulf coast of Florida, and as much as I love the weather when I go visit, I find the lack of waves to be a little boring. Some days, when there's a good storm out in the Gulf, they get some nice waves, which my mother hates, but I love it!

Oh, and I find that wheretostay website extremely overwhelming. I get lost in having to choose a location and then wade through all the 4 bedroom+ options.

Edited: 06 January 2011, 00:28
durban
Level Contributor
1,951 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Confused about KwaZulu-Natal beaches

Keep letting us know how your plans are going and we will endeavour to help where needed.

www.kimssouthafrica.blogspot.com