Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal south coast
Did you know?
Port Shepstone is home to the famous ‘checkerboard’ lighthouse, which was set up here in 1905. It's cast-iron, checked in black and white, and is just 8m tall.
Port Shepstone lies on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, and is to South Africans what Blackpool is to the English: a traditional beachside holiday resort.
With its rather romantic setting of holiday hotels, restaurants, beaches and a tidal pool that was built more than a century ago, Port Shepstone bustles with vacation fever most days of the year.
There was a time when this area was the province of King Shaka’s Zulu empire, the European traders who did business with the Zulus – and a rather motley band of 246 Norwegians who arrived here in August 1882.
They arrived aboard a ship called the Lapland, and dropped anchors off the coast of what is known today as Port Shepstone in the dead of night. What followed was near-disaster.
So pleased were the residents of Port Shepstone at the prospect of these new arrivals, that one of the locals set off five dynamite explosions to welcome them. The Lapland replied with a salvo of rockets, and pretty soon the beach was a-blaze.
The passengers began disembarking the next morning, in manageable numbers because the seas were rough. By all accounts, they arrived on shore the worse for wear. They were greeted by a sleek, well-groomed regiment of 500 Zulu warriors – in full regalia.
Despite their initial misgivings, more than 600 Norwegians eventually settled in the Port Shepstone area while more their countrymen travelled deeper into southern Africa.
Just off the Port Shepstone coast runs the rich Protea Reef, and this is why deep-sea fishermen, casting out from boats or simply the beach, come from all over the country to test their skills – and their luck.
Should you be in the area in winter (June to August), you should go down to the beach and witness what has been dubbed ‘the greatest shoal on Earth’. It’s the annual Sardine Run, when many millions of fish are on the move, keenly followed by humans, dolphins, sharks and seabirds of all descriptions.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
South Coast Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)39 682 7944
Oribi Gorge Hotel
Tel: +27 (0)39 687 0253
Cell: +27 (0)82 419 2993
How to get here
Port Shepstone lies 130 km south of Durban on the N2 highway, or just over an hour's drive away.
Best time to visit
The South Coast is a mild, year-round destination.
Tours to do
Try a Wild 5 Adventure in the Oribi Gorge. Book from the Oribi Gorge Hotel – see Who To Contact.
You could take a bus south from Durban, but driving yourself gives you the freedom to visit all the spots you'd like to in the area.
Length of stay
Set aside three days for your Port Shepstone/South Coast adventure.
What to pack
It’s rarely very cold along the South Coast, so just pack a light wind cheater for the occasional evening out. Be sure to pack your swimming costume, no matter the time of year.
Where to stay
Port Shepstone offers a wide range of accommodation. See the listed websites for details and choices of places to stay.
What to eat
Port Shepstone has several restaurants – see the listed South Coast Tourism website for details.