Margate Beach has been a best-loved KwaZulu-Natal coastal destination for nearly 90 years. Cheekily described as a seaside suburb of Johannesburg, city dwellers flock to its shores in their thousands, yet Margate maintains its cool (and hard-won Blue Flag status) and each year piles on more fun activities for visitors.

Did you know?

In 1922 a mysterious ‘sea monster' washed up on Margate's shores and made headlines worldwide.

Margate Beach is the sort of beach where someone will offer to help set up your umbrella, invite you to a game of volleyball or catch hold of your over-excited toddler who's making a beeline straight for the surf - it's a family kind of place.

Loved for its picture-postcard tropical scenery of coconut palms, grassy embankments, dunes and golden sand, Margate is a 1km-long holiday haven on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Jam-packed over Christmas, Easter and school holidays, avoid Margate if you hanker after a quiet sun spot to read a good book. But if swimming, bodyboarding, surfing, scuba diving, beach parties and festivals are your thing, then Margate is the beach for you.

All the usual Blue Flag facilities – ablutions, good water quality and lifeguards – are in place, with extensive shark netting to ensure safe bathing. A handy paved ramp leads to the promenade for those in wheelchairs or pushing prams.

Kids keep busy for hours in the water amusement park and swimming pools, or go rock-pooling and snorkeling before exploring Margate lagoon in paddle boats and canoes. The hip and happening crowd love to hang out in the restaurants, shops and outdoor cafés overlooking the beach before partying the night away in adjacent clubs and bars.

Water sports are a popular pastime on this KwaZulu-Natal South Coast beach. The pier is a favorite fishing spot, and from November game fishermen pursue schools of tunny, pike and yellowtail out to sea. Offshore of Margate Beach, many shark species congregate around the Protea Banks, a world-renowned dive site. Margate also offers plenty of swell and excellent surf breaks – perfect for surfers, bodyboarders and sea-kayakers.

Between May and July thousands of sharks, seabirds and bottlenose dolphins feast on millions of migrating sardines during the annual Sardine Run and humpback whales are spotted close to shore en route to their breeding grounds off Mozambique.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Hibiscus Coast Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)39 682 7944
Fax: +27 (0)39 682 1034

Margate Information
Tel: +27 (0)39 312 2322

How to get here

Fly into King Shaka International Airport or the small local Margate Airport. Hire a car or pre-arrange for your tour operator or accommodation provider to collect you.

Best time to visit

November to December is the height of summer and the local school holiday season. The beach is packed but there is plenty of organised entertainment over this time.

Around the area

Play at Southbroom Golf and Country Club; Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve offers adrenaline sports and a hair-raising gorge swing; visit Lake Eland Game Reserve with its 4.5-km long zipline and the Pure Venom Snake Park.

Tours to do

A number of Margate coach tours take visitors inland to the Valley of a Thousand Hills and to the Drakensberg mountains.

Get around

Self-drive is ideal, but during the peak holiday period in December, it's best to use public transport or walk down to the beach if you're staying nearby.

What to pack

Sunscreen, swimming costume, hat, camera, binoculars, and fishing rod. Scuba gear, surf boards, bikes and the like can be hired at the beach.

Where to stay

From camping to five-star hotels, Margate offers the full gamut of accommodation options.

What to eat

Dozens of restaurants cater for every food preference, but seafood and curry are always a good bet. The Waffle House in nearby Ramsgate is not to be missed.

What's happening

The Sardine Festival between May and June brings spectacular displays of marine life with associated street entertainment and markets.

Best buys

African curios sold by pavement traders.

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