An essential "locals guide" to things to do in Ballito and Salt Rock on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Everything a tourist needs to know about Ballito, from our beautiful beaches to adventure activities, shopping, eating out, things for the kids to do and just getting out and enjoying the beautiful attractions. A lot has changed since our last update, so here's the latest: Updated October 2020
North Coast Beaches
Ballito & Salt Rock Beaches are simply incredible and Ballito is seriously well endowed when it comes to beaches and fun in the sun. Many people assume Ballito just has one beach when in fact there are many to choose from in the area. If you know where to look, you will be spoiled for choice and always somewhere that you can escape the crowds. From Clarke's Bay in the South to Christmas Bay in the north, you'll never be short of beach fun, get out there and explore our coast. Just lazing in the sand seems to be one of the more popular tourist attractions in the Ballito and Salt Rock areas, but if that is all you do, then you are missing out on half the fun. Why not consider taking a guided beach hike and explore the entire coast in a single morning, it is simply a gorgeous experience and incredible to spend time on some of Ballito's more secluded beaches, rocky shores rich in wildlife, secluded coves and bays, plus you have the added bonus of seeing dolphins and whales (June-November)
Snorkeling in Ballito
Of course, we love to snorkel and you are probably in Ballito for the ocean, this is definitely one of the top activities in Ballito (and the excellent Tripadvisor reviews agree), be sure to take a snorkeling safari with Tidal Tao Snorkelling Safaris. A great family morning out, safe and fun and you will see more fish than you can imagine. As they say at Tidal Tao, it’s as close to Scuba Diving as you will get without Scuba Diving. The Ballito beaches (and the North Coast in general) have some incredible rocky shores. It is these shores that make for such excellent snorkeling, the rocks provide great protection in some places allowing coral growth making for incredible underwater fun.
Experience Evolva Games
If you're looking for something totally out of the ordinary and an adventure on some of our hidden beaches, then Evolva Games is a must. Evolva Games specialize in adventure and mystery experiences, a hybrid between an escape room and scavenger hunt combined into one real-life experience. You follow a series of puzzles and clues to unravel really cool storylines - Evolva Games take place every weekend and is a great way to spend the morning or evening at the beach with your friends, or fun and cool team-building experience with your colleagues. There is a night game and day game. The day game is mentally and physically challenging, so be prepared. The night game is easier, but scary considering you do it at night on the beach. (Check out their website for more details: www.evolvagames.com) or have a look at their promo video below for a sneak peek into what to expect.
Visit the Hole in the Wall at Thompson's Bay.
This natural rock feature just south of the very popular Thompson's Bay Beach(on of the most popular of Ballito's beaches) is just a gorgeous area. Take a walk through the “hole in the wall” and venture down the beach to get away from the crazy crowds of Thompson's bay during peak holiday periods. Here you will find virtually empty, gorgeous bays to just spend the day chilling and watching out for Dolphins or Whales. Be sure to visit this area on an outgoing tide, around spring high tides, if you walk through the Hole In The Wall, you may not be able to get back until the tide drops again, don't say we didn't warn you!
Enjoy the views over the ocean
One of the best things do in Ballito and Salt Rock is simply enjoying our amazing views over Ballito's Beaches. A sundowner with a view is a must-do activity at some point on your holiday. Take a slow drive up the coast. For many folks on holiday on the North Coast, they seldom leave the immediate area of their hotels. Well, its time to get out there and explore – the coastal road linking Ballito with Salt Rock to Sheffield to Christmas Bay is simply gorgeous. You get great views over the ocean, incredible beaches for a quiet walk and a side of the area you won’t want to miss. These areas are also excellent for whale watching and viewing dolphins in the early morning.
Things to do in Ballito and Salt Rock with children
Ballito is a family destination. Look on the beaches and there are families having a whale of a time, playing enjoying the sunshine, but what can you do with your kids in Ballito and Salt Rock when the weather is not that great or looking for something a bit different to do with the kids? Great, read on
Grab a coffee at Burndale Farm, a fun morning out. Perfect for folks looking for things to do with the kids during the holidays in the Ballito area. Just outside of Salt Rock, en route to Umhlali is Burndale Farm. We are surprised the place is not overrun with tourists from all over, there is simply so much to offer. Enjoy a great cup of coffee or snack in the beautiful open gardens, let the children play in the special children’s area, shop to your heart's content, including the Pottery gallery, original art, craft stores and the opportunity to learn a new craft. Plus it’s peaceful. We like that. The food at Burndale is great, the craft shops will keep mom well entertained. Burndale has also recently undergone a bit of a revamp since the Covid-19 lockdown and loads of new shops and a great little garden centre.
Flag Farm Animal Farm is a favorite activity for children and families visiting Ballito and Salt Rock. The Farm boasts a rainproof indoor play center with jungle gyms, sandpits and an obstacle course for kids, they organize birthday parties and have over 1000 animals for children to pet and play with (all rescued or abandoned animals, so a good cause too) they have also recently installed a water play area which is perfect for those hot summer days.
From milking the cows to pony rides, Flag farm Animal Farm is a great day out for families in the Ballito area. To get to Flag Farm Animal Farm from Ballito, head north on the N2 towards Salt Rock, and take the road towards Sheffield Beach, the farm is well signposted from here.
Horse-riding in Ballito
Situated just fifteen minutes from Ballito in the rolling hills of the North Coast sugar belt, Redwoods Riding School, owner-run and passionate about horses, Redwoods is a friendly, intimate stable yard that is ideal for those who love to get out on the farm and take a break from the beach for a while. Redwoods offers livery as well as lessons and out rides to people at all levels of riding. If you are looking for something a little bit different, relaxing champagne breakfast rides are also offered. For more details contact Redwoods on 079 517 6764 or visit the Redwood's Horse Riding Website here. They are passionate about horse riding and a great team
Adventure Activities in Ballito
More and more people want to be active on their holidays and looking for adventurous things to do in Ballito and around the north coast, you won't be disappointed, the adrenalin junkies have plenty of adventures and activities in Ballito lined up for you.
When you are on the beach, you will undoubtedly notice loads of microlights flying over. Taking a Microlight flip over the area is exciting and gives you a brand new bird's eye view over our coastline and Ballito's beaches. The mircolight flips are one of the most popular things to do in Ballito, it is fun, safe and views you'll probably never forget. Most of these Microlight guys have been flying the area for years and have an excellent safety record. Come Fly Microlights and Pilot Training Centre and Ballito Microlights offer scenic flights over Ballito and Salt Rock, ranging from a few minutes to half an hour. These trips are well worth your while, on a recent 15-minute microlight flight we were lucky enough to spot several turtles and rays playing in the ocean beneath us.
Inland of Salt Rock in the Glendale area (a 20 min drive from Salt Rock or Ballito) is the newly opened Monkeyland. Monkeyland KZN is a free-roaming primate sanctuary where you get to experience a range of monkey species (all from outside of South Africa) in a wild, fairly natural setting. As a rule, we do not like zoos or similar artificial experiences with animals. BUT Monkeyland was a surprise, the package is well put together (including a land rover drive to the forest area) guides were great and the educational aspects are strong. Monkeyland is a sanctuary not a zoo. Kids love it, the staff are great and there is a great cafe area, jungle gym and curio shop.
Mountain Biking and Other Adventurous things to do in Ballito
Holla Trails and Clubventure offer everything adrenalin or sports junky on holiday in Ballito could need. If you're looking for things to do in Ballito and Salt Rock that includes adventure and sports, then head out to Holla Trails, an epic mountain bikers paradise. Holla Trails is a 10-minute drive from Ballito Central on the old R102 and well signposted from Ballito. The Mountain Bike Trails at Holla are world-class and they boast over 300 Km's of excellent trails, the center also has equipment that you can hire, maintenance for your bikes and keep riders happy by facilitating access to trails with surrounding landowners. Sugar Rush Park is another great family location for all sorts of adventure and play in Ballito, a family-focused destination that caters for everyone, from tiny tots to gran and gramps. Sugar Rush is all about encouraging fun outdoor activities such as riding and running, or just plain jungle gym climbing.
A few kilometers inland from Ballito is Clubventure, where you can learn to Scuba Dive in their custom made pool, play paintball or fly through the sky on their zip lines. Clubventure is great for team building and larger groups (the cater specially for these larger groups) but families and small groups are welcome too. There is also a fully equipped shop to buy dive gear and outdoor essentials.
If you're prepared to travel a bit further south, then the Durban Green Corridor also offers a wide variety of adventure activities from Mountain Bike Trails to Hiking and Canoeing all within a 30-minute drive of Ballito.
Shopping in Ballito and surrounds
Ok, let's face it, when you are on holiday, being stuck in the mall is one of the last things you want to be doing on your holiday ....but and this is what makes shopping in Ballito and Salt Rock so different, most of our shopping is outdoors, making shopping a lot more of a pleasant experience than one would normally have while shopping in peak holiday season.
Salt Rock Shopping
Shopping at Tiffany's Mall in Salt Rock, why we like it? Because the entire mall is virtually outdoors, this certainly beats the normal giant indoor shopping experience we need to go through. It's small enough that everything is close and big enough that it has everything you need. Tiffany's Shopping Centre is just off the N2 Highway heading into Salt Rock, plenty of parking and very easy to find. Tiffany's is a useful option for easy access and also has resident doctors, dentists, and optometrists for those holiday medical emergencies.
Salt Rock Mall: A new shopping area has recently opened on Salt Rock drive near mount Richmore Estate, directly opposite Dunkirk - some great shops and restaurants (we highly recommend Mike's Kitchen for great food and service) There is also a Checkers, Clicks, and Woolworths as well as some interesting decor and fashion shops.
Further down the road near the Salt Rock main beach is also a new variety of little shops including some great food options including MI AÇAI which will give you (hands down) the best smoothie in town.
In Ballito itself, there are two main malls. We always say that there is no place on the planet where you are more disconnected from nature than in a mall, so we are not great fans of malls. But if you must go, Ballito Lifestyle Centre is largely an open-air experience, has most things you will need including a large Woolworths Food, Spar, ATM's, and a wonderful variety of local brands, restaurants, and generally funky/cool stuff....and free parking. Directly across from the Ballito Lifestyle Centre is Ballito Junction, this is an "all indoors" / typical urban mall experience with lots of big brand names and a variety of major chains.
Then for some extra special shopping, you may need to dig around a bit and explore the less central parts of Ballito and Salt Rock, we certainly recommend spending some time at the Sage Centre for beautiful crafts and home decor. Sage also has a great kiddies play area and a range of new, interesting artesian stores.
Coffee Shops, Culture and Relaxing around Ballito
It's funny when I'm looking for things to do in a new area, I always focus in on the coffee shops, the little venues and places you can go to soak up the local feel of a place. Ballito and Salt Rock have no shortage of these sorts of activities and all very tastefully done and great local Ballito experiences.
Coffee Shops around Ballito & Salt Rock
The Litchi Orchard is one of our favorites. Ladies and gents, keep your eye out for this one. The Litchi Orchard Venue, just outside of Salt Rock (opposite Tiffany’s Mall) is a must if you can time it right.
Soak up the vibe at Café Salt. Just up from Shaka’s Rock beach is the quaint little Café Salt – great coffee, even better pizzas and a warm, friendly feel with a relaxed Mediterranean feel to it. For your morning coffee in Ballito, we suggest you give them a try.....and don't forget the best Pizza in Ballito. For locals are looking for things to do in Ballito and Salt Rock on a Sunday morning, this is where they come to chill and savor killer coffee and pastries. Salt Rock Coffee Co at the Salt Rock shopping centre near the main beach is also a must and very popular.
There is also Sage Cafe in Salt Rock, a great spot for a Sunday breakfast or cuppa coffee and pastries. The food is incredible and the deli will have your mouth watering. Plus the Sage center also offers some great little boutique shops for exploring.
Then there is the Waterberry Coffee Shop, a beautiful quiet little coffee shop set right in a forest. The Waterberry is right in Ballito itself, just up from the main campsite.
Just across from Brettenwood Estate in Sheffield Beach is "The Place" a wonderfully tranquil little garden centre and coffee shop which hosts regular Saturday morning markets with a range of organic and homemade goodies. DO NOT miss out on a loaf of homemade, wood-fired artesian bread from Breadologie which operates from this venue.
Eating Out in Ballito & Salt Rock
Perhaps you want something a little different, just south of Ballito (about 10 km's on the M4 towards Durban) is Beach Bums a super relaxed beach vibe by day and crazy party venue by night. Beach bums is literally on the beach, in the sand and is an incredibly popular attraction in Ballito, so be sure to book a table early. Sunday lunches, feet in the sand, watching the waves roll in, what more could you want from your holiday?
Mozambik restaurant, right near Willard's Beach is, without doubt, the best food, atmosphere, and service in the Ballito area. You will need to book well in advance on weekends and holiday season, the food is incredible, once you've tried it, you will understand why Mozambik is one of the most popular spots for eating out in Ballito. Even the vegetables are tasty! Keep and eye out for the extremely popular and regular comedy evenings hosted at Mozambik. In Salt Rock there are also many choices of spots to eat out, in particular, a curry at Salt Rock hotel, with epic views overlooking the beach is a must. Canelands Beach Club in Salt Rock also offers amazing meals on their deck...possibly one of the most beautiful venues in the area.
If you're looking for something quiet and a very unique menu, be sure to try Ray's Kitchen in Dunkirk Estate, an amazing little spot and out of this world food.
Ballito's great outdoors / nature
Looking for things to do in Ballito area with the family and feel like some wildlife? Then head up the N2 to Amatikulu Nature Reserve (about 30 mins north of Ballito) – this little reserve has some incredible picnic spots and walking trails. An ideal outing for the entire family. The reserve boasts Zebra, Giraffe and other small antelope including incredible bird watching (some of the best birding on the North Coast) …..and if you have the time, hire a canoe and take a quiet paddle down the Amatikulu estuary. There are some excellent bird guides based in Amatikulu that can assist with guiding and a fun bird watching experience. And if it's bird watching you want, Junior Gabela, one of our part-time guides is an incredible birder who can show you several of the local specials including trips to the renowned SAPPI Tranquila Bird Hide and wetlands.
Another bit of wildlife close to Salt Rock is Harold Johnson Nature Reserve, a great day out and highly recommended activity for tourists visiting Salt Rock or Ballito. Harold Johnson Nature Reserve is less than 20 minutes from Ballito and has Zebra, Bushbuck, great bird watching and an all-round fun day out getting in touch with nature.
Rain Farm Game Farm is about 20 Km's from Ballito and offers nature walks, game viewing drives and although not the most "authentic" of game reserves, the farm does have it's own special appeal and does offer a nice, different and interesting alternative to the usual Ballito activities. Rain farm has a fully equipped restaurant, bass dams, hiking trails, overnight accommodation and good variety of wildlife.
Golf Courses and Other Sporting Activities in Ballito
The greater Ballito area, most the north coast, in fact, is riddled with really good Golf Courses. In the immediate surround of Ballito you can enjoy 18 hole golf courses of a world-class standard at the following Golf Courses
Umhlali Country Club
Zimbali Country Club
Princes Grant Golf Course
Other Sporting Activities Around Ballito and Salt Rock
Essential Tourist Resources
So, there you have it, so many things to do in Ballito and activities to enjoy, come rain or shine, there is always something fun on. We hope you enjoy our area and we encourage you to get out and explore Ballito and Ballito's Beaches, this article has not even touched the tip of the iceberg with regards to things to do in Ballito. But we hope we have given you some ideas at least. For more tourist information on the area, visit the Dolphin Coast Tourism Website or if you're looking for more ideas on activities and attractions that are absolutely FREE, then be sure to check out this article "Five Totally FREE Things To Do In Ballito & Salt Rock"