Beach Vacations to Durban, South Africa

Addington Beach, Durban, South Africa
Early morning at Addington Beach, Durban (Walter Knirr/courtesy, South African Tourism)

Durban Beach Travel Tips

  • The least humid time of year to visit the beach is between February and mid-May, but even in winter (May though August) the weather can get warm enough for a beach day.
  • Durban's celebrated beachfront holds a number of beach volleyball and surfing tournaments. With plenty of public transportation, it's an easy place to reach, although you may not want to hang out after dark.
  • Although most beaches around Durban are safe, it's best not to bring any valuables or jewelry.

International tourists to South Africa head directly to Cape Town, but a longtime popular destination for South African tourists is Durban (population 3.5 million), a sophisticated seaside port city lined with miles of golden beaches basking in a laid-back vibe. Durban, the country's third-largest city, is located about 1,000 miles northeast of Cape Town in KwaZulu-Natal. It features a warm, subtropical climate for most of the year, making it a magnet for surfers and scuba divers (particularly at Aliwal Shoal) and kiteboarding (particularly at La Mercy Lagoon and Country Club Beach).

This unique city began as sugar plantations, and there's a strong Indian influence on Durban's architecture, cuisine, and culture due to the thousands of indentured laborers who were shipped in from India during the 19th century. In fact, Durban is said to have the largest Indian population outside of India, and you'll know it by the huge Hindu temple found there, the largest in South Africa. Although it has been known as a center of crime and decay in the past, the city is rebirthing itself with a property boom and major urban beachfront rejuvenation along The Golden Mile, including high-rise hotels, theme parks, casinos, patrolled beaches, and UShaka Marine World.

The city center may not be as popular for tourists, but it's perhaps more fascinating with old colonial buildings and interesting Art Deco architecture. Durban is also a major arts and crafts center, displaying the distinct Zulu culture in pottery, beadwork, traditional medicine, and fashion via museums and art galleries, not to mention outdoor marketplaces and random beachside vendors. And don't overlook the suburbs, including the seaside enclave of Umhlanga Rocks, filled with modern shopping malls, stylish restaurants, and a cosmopolitan populace. A short drive beyond the city's boundaries takes you to the magnificent northern KwaZulu-Natal game parks and forests, world-renowned for their abundance of wildlife and flora.

Published: 22 Sep 2009 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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