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TThe 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.
TThe 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.
TThe region is also rich in history. Shakaskraal, the site of King Shaka's royal military homestead and a charming village, is 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 the Olympic-sized tidal pool at Thompson's Bay, Charlie's Pool, the Salt Rock Hotel, Shaka's Rock and its gorgeous Sheffield Beach. This beach offers great fishing and diving. The charming town of Umhlali is also worth a visit, home to Zimbali, an exclusive hotel set in unspoiled coastal forest. Tinley Manor is famed for its incredible sea views and spectacular beaches.
BBlythedale 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.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Dolphin Coast Publicity Association
Tel: +27 (0)32 437 5021/ 437 5183
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.
Things to do
Shakaskraal – the site of King Shaka’s royal military homestead – is worth a visit and golfers will enjoy the Umhlali and Zimbali golf courses.
Visits to Crocodile Creek, Flag Farm Animal Farm are ideal when it comes to entertaining children of all ages on the Dolphin Coast.
Ballito Pro international surfing contest takes place every year in late June/ early July at Ballito.
What to pack
Durban is famed for its mild, sunny winter climate and year-round ‘fun-in-the-water’ weather. Pack light cotton or linen clothes, short sleeve shirts, shorts, sundresses, hats and swimsuits. Khakis are popular. A simple cardigan or jacket for cooler evenings should be all that is required.
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.