North Coast, KwaZulu-Natal, is renowned for its endless beaches and breathtaking scenery. It is the place where the great Zulu King, Shaka, was buried, and features dozens of sites linked to this warrior and his legacy. Its rich Indian influence also makes for a fascinating voyage of discovery.

Did you know?

The village of Shakaskraal, a North Coast attraction, has only one street.

The North Coast, KwaZulu-Natal, stretches from Zimbali in the south to the Thukela River in the north. While beaches, battle sites and heritage routes comprise the major North Coast attractions, the coastal towns of Ballito, Salt Rock, Umdloti and Zinkwazi offer up endless North Coast activities.

KwaZulu-Natal's North Coast is also known as the Dolphin Coast due to the hundreds of bottlenose dolphins that frequent this part of the coast. They can be seen all year round, frolicking in the warm waters just offshore.

The coast can be explored by boat, providing front row seats from which to watch the dolphins at play, or on horseback or by microlight, which offers a bird's-eye view of this spectacular region. Of course you could just while away the days lazing on the exquisite beaches of Ballito, Blythedale, Prince's Grant and Sheffield, which is also a hot snorkelling spot.

The influence of the Zulu culture and the legacy left by King Shaka is tangible here. Salt Rock was once his home and Shaka's Rock a favourite look-out point. Inland, at KwaDukuza-Stanger, you can see a memorial to the king, built on his gravesite.

Shaka's grave forms part of the local Zulu Heritage Route, which takes in numerous sites associated with his reign. You can also visit the tiny town of Shakaskraal - the site of Shaka's royal military homestead and today home to many traditional African healers. Explore this theme further on the Muti (African medicine) Trail in the Harold Johnson Nature Reserve.

The North Coast has a strong Indian influence, reflecting the history of Indian labourers who were brought in to work the sugar cane fields. Visit Indian temples in KwaDuzuka-Stanger or pop in at the colourful markets to pick up authentic food, curios and spices at bargain prices.

Twitchers should definitely stop off at Zinkwazi, which is renowned for its stunning birdlife.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0) 31 366 7500
Email: info@zulu.org

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Tel: +27 (0) 33 845 1000
Email: webmail@kznwildlife.com

How to get here

Fly from any of South Africa’s major cities to King Shaka International Airport.

If you’re driving from Johannesburg take the N3 freeway direct to Durban. From Cape Town, take the N2 freeway to Durban. From Durban, travel north on the N2 freeway – the region from Zimbali to the Tugela River mouth is the North Coast.

Best time to visit

The North Coast is an all-year-round destination due to its warm climate.

Tours to do

Muti Trail in the Harold Johnson Nature Reserve, microlighting and canopy tours, all at Ballito; King Shaka memorial at Stanger; the beaches of Ballito, Blythedale, Prince’s Grant and Sheffield; a round of golf at the Umhlali and Zimbali golf courses.

What to eat

Seafood; Indian cuisine at the markets in KwaDukuza-Stanger.

Best buys

Spices, colourful Indian clothes and curios at the Indian Market in KwaDukuza-Stanger; traditional African arts and crafts at stores along the coast.