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KwaZulu- Natal is known as the Garden Province of South Africa.
The South Coast stretches south from Durban to the Eastern Cape Province border. It is a wide coastal strip 150kms along the turquoise Indian Ocean, the extreme South East of Africa.
The beautiful scenic landscapes ,wide open spaces, lush green vegetation and trees, and miles of golden beaches along a sparkling translucent sea , make the coast a unique and relaxing destination.
From Amanzimtoti to Port Edward, are a string of small towns and pretty holiday resorts all along the coast.
The main seaside towns are Margate, Scottburgh, Port Shepstone and Port Edward.
Hundreds of rivers from the Drakensberg Mountains flow down and curve through rolling green hills, cutting through the coastline to merge into the warm Indian ocean, forming beautiful river estuaries, lagoons and tidal pools along the magnificent seashore.
Wild and rugged, with diverse flora and fauna, much of the South Coast is sparsely populated and undeveloped. Endless vistas of sandy bronze beaches overlook the Indian Ocean. A scenic drive along the ocean goes through quaint villages such as Shelley Beach, Ramsgate, Umkomaas and Hibberdene.
The subtropical landscapes have coastal forests, grasslands, hills of sugar cane fields, banana plantations, and nut orchards. Along the miles of pristine beaches are tidal pools, caves , and blue lagoons. Abundant wildlife, monkeys and birds inhabit the indigenous forests.
The Umdoni and Hibiscus Coasts together comprise the South Coast.The Umdoni is nearer Durban, from Illovo Beach to Ifafa river, and the Hibiscus Coast continues on south from Hibberdene to Port Edward at the Eastern Cape border.
The South Coast has open air with clean sea breezes, pristine natural surroundings, and a superb climate for the great outdoors. Summer is hot and humid with evening showers, and winter is warm and mild. Summer rainfall is spells of light afternoon rain interspersed with bright sunshine.
The glorious coastline has endless magnificent beautiful beaches. Safe Blue Flag beaches with lifeguards are at Ramsgate, San Lameer, Hibberdene and Margate.
The beaches range from Uvongo , a beautiful beach with a waterfall plunging from high rocky cliffs into a deep lagoon, to undeveloped gems like Marina Beach.
The South Coast has great quality surfing . Waves generated in the southern oceans sweep up the coast from the south west creating optimum surf conditions, especially at Southbroom.
Rocky beach formations create tidal pools that are refreshed every morning by the tides. Reefs with large ranges of coral and tropical fish are ideal for scuba diving. Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks are fantastic scuba diving spots and rival anywhere in the world.
Miles of undisturbed beaches with soft sand and sparkling sea have bays with tidal pools, lagoons, estuaries, rivers and green coastal dune forests to explore.
The long stretches of beaches and bays are great for walking, swimming, fishing, canoeing, and windsurfing. Even in winter the water is in the low 20’s . The temperate climate and warm water is conducive to water sports.
Permits were granted for the first official naturist Nudist Beach in South Africa at Mpenjati Nature Reserve, near Marina Beach in April 2015.
Hiking trails and guided tours go along unspoilt beaches and through indigenous forest. The wealth of scenic beauty in the preserved areas is managed by Nature Conservationists. Coastal forests and grasslands, riverine and floodplain marsh are protected.
Dolphins play in the warm turquoise water all year and whales are seen swimming past in summer from May to July.
The South Coast is one of the finest angling areas in the world for fishing. The surging sea has an infinite variety of fish, both cold water varieties and gamefish from the warm Mozambique currents. There are massive cliff rock formations for anglers to fish from, also the Margate pier.
grows more popular every year and there is abundant birdlife along the coast and in the dune forests.There are apparently over 400 bird species found there.
The South Coast is a Golfer’s Paradise with nine 18 hole golf courses, some of the best in the country. Some courses are alongside the sea amidst beautiful tropical vegetation with views of the ocean waves.There are golf clubs at Umkomaas, Scottburgh, San Lameer and Port Shepstone, also Margate and Port Edward Country Clubs. Southbroom Golf course opened in 1938 and is one of the best holiday resort courses in the country.
There are 2 big shopping malls, the Galleria at Amanzimtoti and the Shelley Centre at Shelley Beach.
Shops, restaurants and pubs are in the charming little seaside villages all along the coast. Numerous art and craft shops reflect the rich and vibrant local cultural heritage. Ramsgate has art galleries and artist's studios.
The Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve
has a deep ravine 27 kilometers long.The forested gorge has spectacular steep rocky cliffs along the Umtamvuna river. The park offers adventures such as the world’s highest bungee jump, equal to a 33 story jump, or abseiling across the 400m gorge with staggering views over the ravine below.
There are Lighthouse tours, 9 Nature Reserves, Butterfly parks and Crocodile farms to visit. Daily trips are organised to the Nature Reserves.
The Sardine Run in July is a spectacle viewable from the shore, a world wonder that happens only along the southeast tip of Africa. When cold currents from the south sweep shoals of sardines up past the coast, gigantic parties of predators await.
Dolphins, sharks, seals, big game fish and thousands of circling soon dive- bombing seabirds converge for a feeding frenzy. Billions of sardines are swept close to shore and a marine predator’s feast follows. Up to 20.000 dolphins chase and hunt the sardines at once, and even the odd whale will arrive and swallow 10,000 sardines in a mouth full.
Where to Stay
Accommodation ranges from hotels and country houses, to safaris and camping.There are many self catering places, guest houses, lodges, resorts and holiday cottages with idyllic sea views along the coast.
The villages of Ramsgate, Margate and Southbroom have beautiful holiday houses with direct beach access and glorious ocean views. Luxurious accommodation is available in Southbroom, San Lameer and Marina Beach with daily housekeepers and night watchmen.
There is a vast variety of accommodation available, to suit all budgets and tastes.
Where to Eat
There are restaurants and pubs all along the coast at the small villages.
Air : Amanzimtoti is 60 kms from Shaka Airport and there are several shuttle services a day from the airport to the South Coast. Flights can also be chartered to Margate Airport, the second biggest airport in Natal.
Car :Cars can be rented at the airport and are the easiest way to explore the countryside.
Taxis Taxis and Tours around the Nature Reserves and other sights can be booked.
Do You Know
The South Coast escaped commercial development as all attempts to establish harbours in the shallow bays ended in shipwrecks.
Originally the countryside, teeming with game and the sea with fish, remained undeveloped. Almost 100 rivers cutting through the coast line made transport impossible.
Eventually the monumental task of building a railway along the coast began in 1895, due to the British obsession with building roads and rail. Hacking through dense coastal forest over endless rolling hills and building 75 bridges over rivers they finally reached Port Shepstone in 1901.
The South Coast is a relaxing holiday destination with beautiful landscapes, wide open spaces, lovely beaches and refreshing scenery.