Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
If Johannesburg has business and Cape Town has culture, then Durban has the beach. This city is a surfer's paradise, with the warm Indian Ocean offering just the right temperature and the perfect waves for a rewarding surfing experience. Even the busiest of executives hang up their coats during lunch and head for the beach, either for a surf, a swim or a jog. Many keep a surfboard in their car and catch of quick wave before or after work, or both.
The Durban beachfront is a cultural experience. Here you will find families on holiday, surfers challenging the waves, Indian ladies walking in flowing saris, beaded traditional healers collecting bottles of seawater to use a muti and youngsters strutting their stuff on the pristine beaches. The sea plays an important part. There are 2 yacht clubs and one very big commercial harbour, the biggest and busiest harbour in South Africa.
Enjoy lunch in the shadow of huge container ships and cruise liners as they enter the harbour. Shopping is a wonderful and special experience, with strong influences from the East. The Indian culture adds a touch of spice, literally and figuratively, and you will be able to purchase a number of interesting Eastern wares at the Victoria Market. Traditional beadwork and baskets are for sale at ridiculously low prices on the beachfront.
For a more upmarket shopping experience, the Gateway Shopping Centre is more than just an average shopping mall. Besides being one of the biggest malls in the southern hemisphere, it also offers a climbing wall and an enormous artificial standing wave - the first artificial double-point break in the world.
But most people come to Durban for the surfing, and the city boasts South Africa's only surfing museum. Another fun water based activity is to paddle out on a sea kayak, or even a short and gentle white water trip on the nearby Umgeni River. Some of the hardest climbs in South Africa are at the Wave Cave at the nearby Shongweni.
The diving south of the city is excellent. In winter and spring, migratory Ragged Tooth Sharks make their appearance at Aliwal Shoal and can be viewed on a specially organized dive. There are also alot of coral-encrusted rock reefs with pretty tropical fish for the less intrepid. For the more serious diver, Protea Bank is a must.
Durban City Guide
The vibrant city of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal province is South Africa's busiest port. Endless golden beaches adjacent to the warm Indian Ocean with a mixture of the country's colourful cultures, is what gives this attractive seafront city its subtropical paradise charm.
The land of modern-day Durban was a gift by the Zulu King, Shaka during the 1830's. Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is a city of pleasure and relaxation. Activities range from surfing, whale watching and cultural tours to an electric nightlife.
Durban's climate lends itself to outdoor pursuits of all kinds year round. The beaches stretch for miles up and down the coast. The warm Indian Ocean draws visitors from far and wide to escape cooler climates. Surfing is one of the city's top attractions, with regular competitions and world class events. Both the North and South beach is shark-protected and dolphins can often be seen close to the shore. The mile long stretch of beachfront in Durban is called The Golden Mile, packed with hotels, pubs and bars.
At the northern end of the Golden Mile is the popular Suncoast Casino and Entertainment complex right on the beach. Visitors to this city in KwaZulu-Natal will find a variety of eateries, bars and much more. Another cool thing to do from here is hire a Retro Bike. These superb rides are sure to get you noticed and provide a great way to explore the Durban promenade. At the opposite end of the Golden Mile is uShaka Marine World, a multi faceted complex to suit every kind of traveller with direct access to the beach.
UShaka Marine World in Durban is a "must do" for any tourist to this KwaZulu-Natal city. There are 5 different zones for dining, entertainment, retail, water slides and Sea World. The Sea World zone has the world's 5th largest aquarium at UShaka Marine World, a dolphinarium, seal pool and penguin rookery. Interactive activities include a dive tank, snorkel reef and touch pool, while Wet 'n Wild offers heart-stopping adrenalin rides and more sedate water activities.
The Golden Mile is filled with fun things to see and do. Visitors can take a unique Rickshaw Ride in Durban and enjoy being pulled from one venue to another. The Rickshaw is a 3 wheeler which is handled by a magnificently dressed "puller". Top attractions in the same vicinity of the Rickshaws are Funworld, salt water pools, an Olympic size swimming pool, cinemas, pubs, eateries and fast food outlets, amusement arcades and traditional art and craft. Other attractions in Durban include Mini-Town and a Snake Park.
In the city, visitors can sample popular Durban foods such as a "Bunny Chow" which is a half a loaf of bread scooped out and filled with curry, or take a Township Tour and visit a local Shebeen (tavern) for traditional local food. The Victoria Street Market also has many facets, an oriental delight with delicious aromas, bargain hunting, colourful stalls, a fish market and curio stands. African craft is also available.
Half and hour by car north from Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, is Umhlanga Rocks, the site of excellent beaches, informative Natal Sharks Board tours and the Southern Hemisphere's largest shopping complex - Gateway Theatre of Shopping. Gateway in Umhlanga has a huge array of shops, restaurants and cinemas as well as massive standing wave known as DRex, a mega Skate Park, the highest climbing wall ever and a go-karting track plus mini-golf course.
Highlights in Durban
- Retro Bike hire - Suncoast Casino complex, Durban beachfront
- Mini Town - Durban beachfront
- Rickshaw rides - Durban beachfront
- Suncoast Casino and Entertainment - Durban beachfront
- Wet n' Wild - uShaka Marine World, Durban beachfront
- Dolphinarium - uShaka Marine World, Durban beachfront
- Aquarium - uShaka Marine World, Durban beachfront
- The Harbour Ferry - Point Road, central Durban
- Durban Ice Rink - Marine Parade, Durban
- The Yacht Basin and sunset cruises - Durban harbour
- Brewery Tours, Firkin Hophouse - Pavilion, Westville
- Brewery Tours, United National Breweries - Congella, Durban
- Brewery Tours, SAB - Prospecton, Durban
- Sugar Terminal tours - Tongaat, north of Durban
- Gateway Shopping and Entertainment - Umhlanga Rocks
- Sibaya Casino and cultural village - north of Umhlanga Rocks
Top visitor attractions in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Gardens and Nature:
- Snake Park - Durban beachfront
- Umgeni Bird Park - Durban North
- Natal Sharks Board Shows - Umhlanga Rocks
- Japanese Gardens - Durban North
Action and adventure:
- Kitesports - Durban beachfront
- Paintball - Westville and Durban North
- Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park - Kloof
- Deep sea fishing charter- Point Harbour
- Scuba diving - Shelley Beach, South Coast
- Go-Karting, Gateway - Umhlanga Rocks
Art, culture and markets:
- African Art Centre - Morningside
- BAT Centre (arts, cultural, eateries, music) - Victoria Embankment
- Madressa Arcade Bazaar - Grey St, central Durban
- Victoria Street Market - cnr Queen / Russell Sts, central Durban
- Township Tours - various settings
- PheZulu Safari Park (Zulu Village) - Botha's Hill
Museums and local interest:
- Old Station Building - Pine Street, central Durban
- City Hall - Durban central
- Local history museum - Old Court House near City Hall
- Natural Science Museum - City Hall, central Durban
- KwaMuhle Museum - Ordinance Rd, central Durban
- Juma Mosjid Mosque - Grey St, central Durban
- The Old Fort - Old Fort Rd, Marine Parade, Durban
- Durban Military Museum - Old Fort Rd, Marine Parade
- Maritime Museum - Aliwal St on the bay, central Durban
- The Kings Battery Museum - North Pier, Point Waterfront