Did you know?
KwaZulu-Natal's Dolphin Coast - or North Coast - is home to a large Indian community and offers spicy cuisine and fresh produce at a number of markets.
The magical Dolphin Coast on the northern coast of South Africa is a favoured holiday area for local and international visitors alike. This lush strip of coastline starts about 45 minutes' drive north of the city of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal Province. It is bordered by the Tongaat River south of Ballito to the Umhlali River, and is famed for its stunning Indian Ocean beaches, holiday facilities and range of recreational activities.
The Dolphin Coast is famed for daily sightings of large pods of bottlenose dolphins frolicking offshore. With a number of standout beaches, great waves, year-round warm weather and plenty of places to go shopping, this region has become a growth node where residential estates cater for permanent occupants and holiday visitors.
Swimming, surfing, fishing, marine excursions and all manner of water sports, as well as game reserves and great golfing at four local courses makes this an ideal holiday destination. Inland the region is framed by waving sugar cane fields and to the east, by the ocean.
The region is also rich in history, with Shakaskraal, the site of King Shaka's royal military homestead and a charming village to be seen a short drive inland. Further north, at Groutville, lies the Luthuli Museum, dedicated to one of South Africa's great Struggle leaders, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Chief Albert Luthuli .
Other points of interest on KwaZulu-Natal's Dolphin Coast include Thompson's Bay's Olympic-sized tidal pool, Charlie's Pool, the Salt Rock Hotel, Shaka's Rock and its gorgeous beach, Sheffield Beach, which offers great fishing and diving and the charming town of Umhlali. Zimbali, an exclusive hotel set in unspoiled coastal forest, offers a luxurious stay while Tinley Manor is famed for its incredible sea views and spectacular beaches.
Blythedale beach also offers a holiday resort experience, while KwaDukuza/Stanger, which lies just inland from here, is home to a memorial to the famous Zulu king, Shaka and is home to temples and mosques. Kids' outings should include the nearby crocodile farm and animal farm.
Hikers can wander along beautiful trails in Zinkwazi, a nature-lovers' paradise close to Stanger, featuring indigenous forests and incredible bird life. The Harold Johnson Nature Reserve north of Ballito contains two national monuments, the Ultimatum Tree and Fort Pearson, and sits on the banks of the Tugela River. Golfers can hone their games at the Umhlali or Zimbali golf courses.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
How to get here
This lush strip of coastline stretches north of the city of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal Province from the Tongaat River south of Ballito to the Umhlali River. It is easy to reach by travelling along the N2 north from Durban.
Best time to visit
The Dolphin Coast has fantastic weather throughout the year, which makes it a great destination in winter and summer, but mid-summer (January to February) can be particularly humid.
Around the area
Shakaskraal – the site of King Shaka’s royal military homestead – is worth a visit and golfers will enjoy the Umhlali and Zimbali golf courses.
Tours to do
Visits to Crocodile Creek, Flag Farm Animal Farm are ideal when it comes to entertaining children of all ages on the Dolphin Coast.
Where to stay
Accommodation along the Dolphin Route is varied and plentiful, with holiday apartments, housing estates, B&Bs, caravan parks, a hotel and camping available.
What to eat
There are many small bistro-type restaurants, beach pubs and restaurant franchises to be found in and around Ballito.
Mr Price Pro international surfing contest takes place every year in early July at Ballito.