KZN’s south coast, with its string of small village, from Port Edward in the south to Amanzimtoti in the north, and its pretty beaches and warm sea, has always been one of South Africa’s favourite year-round holiday destinations. As you drive southwards from Durban, passing popular towns is a delight. You pass towns such as Umkomaas, Scottborough, Port Shepstone, Margate and Port Edward on the beautiful Umtamvuna River bordering the Eastern Cape, through sub-tropical forests, rolling hills of sugar cane, banana plantations, orchards of nuts, blue lagoons and golden beaches with rocky coves.
Many of the South Coast’s activities revolve around the ocean, so go on a licensed boat-based whale and dolphin watching trip, or you can snorkel and scuba dive, surf, swim and catch fish, or just lie on the beach and enjoy watching others do so.
The Aliwal Shoal off Umkomaas and Scottborough, and more especially the Protea Banks off Shelley Beach, are rated as some of the top shark diving sites in the world. Diving with ragged tooth sharks is extremely popular, as is the cage diving option for the less experienced.
However, beach-related activities are not all there is to enjoy. If you’re a thrill seeker, inland from Port Shepstone is the beautiful 27 kilometre, 400m deep Oribi Gorge that is great for walks, hikes, and exploring the waterfalls and spectacular views. This is also the site of the world’s highest natural commercial abseil, the world’s highest bungee swing – an adrenaline rush from the top of Lehr’s Falls into the gorge – a Wild Slide across the gorge, white water rafting, mountain biking and a suspension bridge to sway across a ravine.
For those who enjoy the outdoors, but in a less ”energetic” way, KZN’s sub-tropical vegetation and numerous small nature reserves, such as Umtamvuna and Vernon Crooks, provide some wonderful opportunities to watch birds – there are more than 400 species – and to wander along paths of beautiful floral diversity.
A lovely and rather unique experience is to walk along the beach with a guide at low tide and see some of the most amazing protected marine fossils within the Mpenjati Nature Reserve on the lower south coast.
The South Coast has long been known as South Africa’s ‘Golf Coast’, and there are eight excellent 18-hole golf courses, two of which are rated amongst the top 30 in South Africa.
Being as popular a holiday destination as it is, the South Coast also has a variety of accommodation ranging from up-market hotels, middle market guest houses and B&Bs, self-catering units and caravan and camping facilities, as well as all the commercial amenities such as shopping malls, movie theatres, and even an ice rink at the Galleria Mall in Amanzimtoti.