Kosi Bay, although in a remote part of northern KwaZulu-Natal, is well worth a visit for the beauty of its isolated white beaches, palm-fringed reed channels, lakes and waterways. Known for its traditional system of fish-trapping in woven baskets, this little known area is one of Zululand's loveliest holiday destinations.

Did you know?

Sodwana Bay, also on KwaZulu-Natal's extreme north coast, is rated as one of the world’s top 10 dive sites.

Although KwaZulu-Natal is renowned for its beautiful beaches, lush vegetation and dramatic history, Kosi Bay, in the far north, is not as well known to international travellers as some of the province’s glitzier attractions, such as the many game reserves, battlefields and coastal resorts.

One reason is that Kosi Bay is not that easy to get to, but when you find yourself amidst its lakes, reed channels and dazzling white beaches, you’ll be delighted you made the effort.

Part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site, Kosi Bay is famed for its traditional fish traps or kraals, used by the local Tsonga people for centuries, which are passed down from generation to generation. Because the traps are small, similar to reed baskets, there’s no major impact on the thriving fish population.

Another reason for visiting this lovely area is to see the leatherback and loggerback turtles. Beaches here are their traditional breeding ground and to follow one of the great leatherbacks (weighing up to 450kg and over 2m in length) as she hauls herself uphill from the surf beyond the tide line to dig her deep hole and then lay over 100 white glistening eggs is the experience of a lifetime.

Nesting time is October to February, and then the hatchlings – so tiny that they are barely the size of a bath plug – scramble up from their deep sandy nest and run helter-skelter for the sea.

It’s a precarious business, as gulls, ghost crabs and jackals lie in wait for them. If they do reach the sea, then the marine predators are waiting for them. Only one in a 1 000 of these endangered creatures will make it to adulthood and then return 2 decades later to nest on the very same beach.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Tel: +27 (0)33 845 1000

How to get here

Take the N2 from Durban or Richards Bay, then the R22 from Hluhluwe to eMangusi. You will need a 4x4 to reach Kosi Bay from there.

Best time to visit

If you want to see the turtles, then October to March is the breeding and hatching season.

Around the area

iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Sodwana Bay, Lake Sibaya

Tours to do

Eco-friendly turtle tours operate from Kosi Bay, Sodwana Bay, Rocktail Bay, St Lucia and Cape Vidal between November and March.

Get around

To visit the fish traps at Kosi Mouth you’ll need a 4x4 and a permit that you can obtain at the gate.

What to pack

Snorkelling and/or scuba diving gear, although equipment is also available for hire.

Where to stay

Kosi Bay Lodge, Kosi Forest Lodge, Thobeka Backpackers.

What to eat

Fresh fish and shellfish.