Many visitors on South African holidays come for the whale-watching, which lasts from June to November.
The Whale Coast is one of the country's most frequently visited regions. Not as well known to foreign tourists, but just as fascinating, is the Dolphin Coast.
It is named for the great number of bottlenose dolphins that frolic in the coastal waters throughout the year. It lies north of Durban, between Umhlanga and Tugela Mouth. Because of the rolling expanses of sugar plantations, it has also been called the Sugar Coast. But for the tourists lucky enough to discover this uncrowded stretch of Indian Ocean coast, it is the dolphins that make the show. The best way to see the Dolphin Coast is to get off the N2 highway and take the old coast road that runs parallel to the sea.
A Local Favourite
The Dolphin Coast is popular with the residents of South Africa. Holidays for many locals mean trips to the beach resorts of Ballito, Umhlanga Rocks and Salt Rock. There are a lot of smaller, more expensive resorts that attract an upscale clientele. The soft sand beaches are wildly beautiful, and the waves that roll in are majestic - but before you head in for a swim be sure that the location is protected by shark nets. You'll find some excellent golf courses here, as well as numerous tropical nature reserves that are seldom overrun with tourists. The reserves are well protected and well run, and are especially inviting to bird watchers.
If you want to do some shopping, there is Gateway, South Africa's premier shopping mall - claiming to be the biggest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere. You'll find it in Umhlanga Rock, a resort community that is practically a suburb of Durban. Shopaholics could easily spend a day here, and an evening, too, if they want to see a movie in the 18-screen cinema.
Just to the north is Umhlanga Lagoon, where there are gorgeous expanses of wetland and forest, and an unspoiled beach. A popular landmark here is the Umhlanga Lighthouse. Kids and adults alike will enjoy a visit to Crocodile Creek, which has 9,000 crocodiles, as well as snakes, tortoises and monkeys. Between December and March you can see the hatching of baby crocs.
Salt and Shaka
For people on South African holidays who have a taste for history, the legacy of the Zulus is strong here. Salt Rock, north of Ballito, was once a place where the Zulus gathered salt. Nearby is Shaka's Rock. It was from here that the warrior king, Shaka, the Zulu's version of Julius Caesar, allegedly had his enemies thrown into the sea. The reefs here provide good snorkelling, but don't expect to see the bones of Shaka's victims. The community of Stanger/KwaDukuza was once Shaka's capital. It was here that he was assassinated by his two half-brothers. Visitors can see his monument, and learn his story in the KwaDukuza Visitor Centre. If you go 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) north on the N2 highway, you will come to the Howard Johnson Nature Reserve. This is the site of the remains of Fort Pearson, the base for the British invasion of Zululand in 1879. A small museum displays Zulu dress and cultural artefacts. It's a great historical experience, and an educational break from the beach and the dolphins.
About The Author:
Rachel Hill is a Southern Africa Travel specialist, a company specialising in luxury, tailor-made South Africa holidays as well as holidays to other destinations in Southern Africa. Our experienced consultants will help you design your very own luxury South Africa holiday, and will be happy to provide you with a free quote.