Staring at the ocean can be quite mezmerising....every wave is different, the colours, the chance of seeing some incredible animals and unbeatable serenity.
Plus, when you think about it, you are looking out over one of the greatest wildernesses on the planet, whales following ancient migratory paths, families of dolphins playing in the surf, turtles, rays, sharks.....you are sitting on the edge of an incredible game reserve. We think people should stare at the sea a bit more often....it's good for the soul. So here are our three favourite vantage points for endless hours of staring :)
Sheffield Beach (Villa Royale) Parking Viewpoint
Just north of Salt Rock is Sheffield Beach, it's a great, quiet beach with loads of rock pools and great vantage points. But to get a truly magnificent view of the North Coast across Salt Rock, Ballito and even Durban on a clear day, the Villa Royale Parking area is the place to be. (Picture above)
How to get there?
Just follow Hugh Dent Drive from Salt Rock, which becomes Sheffield Drive. Along this road you have some great vantage points and benches overlooking the ocean. At the first crossroads you reach, turn right into Barrier Dr. Follow this to the end and you'll know you are here.....the view can't be missed.
Why we like it?
Besides the crippling views, this is one of the best spots to look out for Whales during the Whale Season (June-November) - in some instances, we have sat here for just 30 minutes and seen over 10 individual Humpbacked Whales and 3 Southern Right Whales. On days when the ocean is flat and calm, you can easily see the offshore reefs and may be lucky to catch a glimpse of a small shark or turtle out at sea. This is also one of the few good viewpoints that you can reach without having to worry about the tides (or getting trapped at high tide)
Chaka's Rock Bench
Not many people know that just north of Chaka's Rock is a little trail up onto the dune / cliff where you have amazing views over Chaka's Rock and the reefs below. There is even a comfy little bench and all round very serene, quaint, yet dramatic setting.
How to get there?
Just park near Cafe Salt on Ocean Drive and head down to the Chaka's Rock Tidal Pool. (You will need to do this at a low tide (preferably outgoing to give you enough time) as you can not return at a high tide without being smashed by waves. Walk South of the tidal pool (along the ocean facing wall of the tidal pool) and scramble along the rocks for 200m or so, you will see a small set of stairs going up the rock face on your right (if facing south) - head up these stairs and be amazed.
Why we like it?
We are not certain who does it, but the paths and trail up here are always well maintained and the area is always very quiet and serene. You seldom encounter other people up here. The little bench is perfectly placed for you to put your feet up and enjoy the views. There are even some sign boards pointing out some marine life you can expect to see. This is one of our favourite places for dolphin viewing, especially in the early mornings when the sea is glassy and flat. Large families of dolphins move through this area quite regularly and can be seen quite close inshore. Plus the views over the many rock pools and reefs below are incredible.
Wave Rock - Thompson's Bay
There are some epic viewpoints points just north of Thompson's Bay but we often find this spot over run with fishermen and always a mess of old fishing line and bait boxes. So even though it warrants a mention, we normally recommend heading South of Thompson's Bay for some extra peace and quite and amazing scenery.
How to Get There?
The Thompson's Bay parking area is almost half way between Chaka's Rock (Cafe Salt) and Simbithi Drive and difficult to miss in the busy season (many many cars) ....walk down to Thompson's Bay and bypass the crowds towards the Tidal Pool. Just beyond the Tidal Pool is the "Hole in the Wall" a fantastic rock feature and path to some quiet bays just south of Thompson's. From here you can head up onto any of the rocky outcrops for great views and solitude. (most of the time) - but as with Chaka's Bench, be sure to get back through the Hole in the Wall before high tide otherwise you may be spending a few hours more than you bargained on here.
Why we like it?
We call these rocks "Wave Rock" ....the sandstone rock formations along this stretch are amazing and some rocks carved out like giant waves. There are plenty of comfortable places to perch yourself on these rocks and nine times out of ten, you will have the beach to yourself. Amazing when you consider the crowds often found on Thompson's Bay beach itself, a few hundred meters away. We love this area for the incredible rock formations and sheer natural beauty. Even though your "viewing distance" isn't that far, the sense of place, dramatic rock formations and waves pounding into the rock faces with huge sprays of water is always just special to sit, watch and enjoy.