South Africa Recreational Activities

Segways on the pier.

Introduction

If you are looking for a real break, South African holiday can offer a whole host of really relaxing destinations, including some healthy options like a week at a wellness centre, or a few days deep in the bush at a simple retreat. And, of course, while a few days at a game lodge is exciting it is still an extremely relaxing break to be in the bush. These attractions will appeal to the need for luxury and pampering, as well as meeting the needs of the comfort-seeking urban traveller.

Beaches

From the West Coast's wild, deserted, sunbleached stretches of snow-white sand to the sub-tropical, coral-fringed, forest-backed beaches of Maputaland, South Africa has a beach for every reason. Even near the cities of Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, there are long stretches of unspoiled coastline and, of course, fun urban beaches with every conceivable convenience and novelty. In Cape Town, try Clifton for the fashionable set; Sandy Bay, the unofficial nudist beach, for the wouldn't-wear-fashion-anyhow set; and Long Beach for the walking. Boulders offers the very best swimming and a possible sub-aqua visit by a curious penguin as a bonus.

In Port Elizabeth, Hobie Beach is good for buzz and burger bars, while Sardinia Bay offers miles of virtually deserted snow-white sand. East London's beaches tend to be well populated, but only a few kilometres from town there are some practically deserted ones. And the whole city of Durban is really just a life support system for the beach. In Cape Town, you could watch the sun rise over False Bay, and watch it set over the broad expanse of the Atlantic on the same day. And again the next day.

Romance and honeymoons

Generally speaking, the only difference between a honeymoon and any other holiday, is the fact that people are prepared to spend a little more money and they do probably want a bit more privacy. For the rest, they mostly want to do whatever interests them anyway - watch game, play golf, go diving, sample the local cuisine, lie on the beach.

Urban indulgences

South Africa's cities are an exciting mix of first and third world influences, offering a veritable kaleidoscope of sights and sounds.  From "happening" Cape Town one of the most beautiful cities in the world to busy, bustling Johannesburg on the highveld, each has its own special attractions and cultural palette. The nightlife benefits from both the vibrancy of Africa and the sophistication of the first world facilities. South Africa has absolutely everything: brilliant theatre (musicals
often end-up on Broadway or the West End), plenty of live music performances, wild and wacky clubs, glittering casinos, a rainbow of restaurants, and of course, loads of shopping malls.

Health and vitality

If you are looking for a total break and some real re-creation (as in bodily improvements) you'll be spoiled for choice on your South African holiday. You could opt for a series of massages and a healthy eating regimen at a wellness centre, or even that "little op" or "nip and tuck" that they've been considering but haven't quite managed to make the time for.

If this is so, you will be pleased to note that the medical and wellness facilities are absolutely first class and equal to the best in the world (no exaggeration here) what's more, for many the favourable exchange rate makes them so affordable that even paying for them will be  stress-free! Whether it's cosmetic dentistry, elective surgery, a week at a spa or even a long-term stay at a "rehab" centre, you will be assured of the utmost discretion, finest facilities, treatment, guaranteed expertise and all at very competitive prices.

Shopping

Shopping in South Africa is a major activity for most tourists because of the vast array of craft at such good prices.  Whether it's a quick dash into the airport craft shop or an extended shopping expeditions to one of the numerous state-of-the-art shopping malls to be found in all major cities, few visitors leave without something special. Indeed, shopping in South Africa is a delight for visitors - and not only because of the unbelievably low prices by European, Japanese or American standards.

You can find anything and everything in South Africa. It is little wonder therefore that South Africa is such a popular shopping destination, especially for visitors from the rest of the continent, who often head straight for the large chains of wholesalers. Shopping malls are actually shopping and entertainment centres, as all of them usually have several restaurants, and at least one cinema. Many also have ice-rinks, rolling blading rinks, video-arcades and mini-golf, whilst others offer activities such as wall climbing and artificial-wave surfing.

The shops themselves range from major supermarkets and smaller delis to designer sportswear shops and exclusive high fashion and designer jewellery boutiques. Banks and foreign exchange bureaux and post offices are also often located at shopping malls. Most major bookshops frequesntly double as coffee shops, making them an ideal place to while away a few hours. These days many malls are in interesting locations such as waterfronts (real and artificial!), but for those who prefer strolling from shop to shop in the centre of the city can still do so or even in trendy suburbs that have smaller, very specialised shops, that line their quaint streets in between restaurants, pubs and live music venues.

Flea markets sell the most astounding array of goods from household items to arts and craft to handmade leather goods to outrageous clothing fashions to antique jewellery. This is where the inventiveness of South African (and African in generally) is on display. It is worth a visit to at least one large flea market as the quality of the handcrafted goods, and unusual jewellery (often made from South African gold), is quite exceptional. Apart from flea markets, African craft, mostly from Southern, East and West Africa, is on sale at the various African craft centres and specialist curio shops. Items include weaved baskets, loads of beadwork articles, African masks, ceramics, colourful textiles, jewellery, wooden carvings, items made from wire and a wide variety of sculptures.

Shopping hours are usually between 08h30 - 17h00 during the week and 09h00 - 17h00 on Saturdays, although as a rule, shopping mall hours are usually extended into the early evening. Most, if not all, shopping malls and larger stores are open on Sundays, usually until at least 14h00. In addition, Sunday is the main shopping day for most flea markets and craft centres which normally close in the late afternoon. All methods of payment are usually acceptable, including VISA, American Express and MasterCard, and traveller's cheques such as MasterCard and Thomas Cook, on provision of proof of identity.

Food and drink

South Africa's cuisine utilises the natural bounty of the land and oceans in a heady mix of European, Asian and African ingredients and styles - that you will want to take South African recipe books home.

Wine

South African wine is worth travelling halfway around the world for. Most of the wine growing areas are centred around Cape Town, heading up the West Coast towards Vredendal, along the East Coast as far as Hermanus, inland as far as de Rust, near Oudtshoorn and straight north as far as Upington. If you are "into" wine (i.e. discerning about wine), you will agonise about not being able to visit the other hundred wineries during your South African holiday. That's because there are fourteen separate wine routes, all of which offer tasting as well as many other attractions.

Food

Epicurean (connoiseur) travellers will be in heaven. From five-star restaurants to small cafes and bistros, South Africa caters for all tastes and purses. All major international cusine is available as well as South Africa's own home-grown
specialities. For lovers of seafood there are many excellent seafood restaurants and a few special treats for lovers of fishy fare. In summer, the West Coast features open air beach restaurants, which are very casual and offer an enormous range of seafood all cooked on an open fire.

Oyster lovers will revel in the quantity, quality and variety of the delicacies on offer all along the Garden Route where you can choose between cultivated or wild oysters. The Wild Coast is renowned for its seafood and even the most humble establishments offer enormous seafood platters for a reasonable price and may even feature wild oysters and lobster legs as bar snacks. In Durban the freshest fish can be eaten in restaurants in the harbour and yacht basin. Other local attractions include traditional South African food. This ranges from sweet, fruity, spicy Malay curries to hearty African food such as putu (a grits-like maize porridge) and, of course, the ever-popular South African braai (similar to a barbecue).

In Durban, the large Indian population contributes to a wealth of good curries. Game meat and the unique ostrich meat feature heavily on local menus and Karoo lamb is claimed by many to be the best in the world. But all those meaty attractions are no reason for vegetarians to despair as the majority of restaurants can always create something delicious for them. South African fruit juices are exported all over the world, and with good reason.

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