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Hidden gems: 5 under-the-radar beaches in KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal on the East Coast of South Africa is a fantasy land of nature and wonder in the most abundant ways possible. Durban is a typical surf / coastal city that could be found in California, however the difference is that Durban is an African city, far more so than other coastal urban areas in the country which could possibly be accused of being too eurocentric.

Durban’s fierce Zulu influence has insured the city has kept its African eccentricity and the entire province of KwaZulu-Natal is inspired by this, which is the dominant culture of the region. KwaZulu-Natal is also a big province which means that there is a lot to explore.

The beaches really are world class and the warm Indian Ocean has ensured travelers keep coming back year in and year out to experience one of the most breathtaking, charming and unspoiled parts of the country and world.

Tinley Manor

A typical summer’s day at Tinley Manor, photo taken from WhereToStay.co.za.

Tinley Manor is such a small town you may very well drive past. The place literally consists of a few houses in various shapes and sizes and one or two shops and restaurants and a splendidly picturesque beach which is famous for its blue oceans, tidal pools, fishing and surfing.

There are certain parts of the beach which can only be accessed via dirt roads making it a secluded desolate, picturesque piece of paradise. It’s also not far from more populated areas nearby such as Ballito and Umhlanga.

Where to stay: If you’re looking for hotels, backpackers, lodges or resorts, you’ll have to travel to nearby Ballito, Durban or Umhlanga; however there are a number of self-catering options available in Tinley Manor including 8 Lauren Lane, Palm Lake Estate and Palm Villas.

Where to eat: Impulse by the sea (Indian).

When to visit: All year round, however winter is blessed with warm weather which is not too hot or humid.

Sodwana Bay

Sodwana Bay on certain occasions is also a great surfing destination, photo taken from sodwanabay.com.

Travel further north towards Mozambique and you will eventually find Sodwana Bay which over the years has become a sought after diving destination and a place where many diving instructors learn their craft.

This unique bay is located in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Maputaland Marine Reserve, hence continuous conservation initiatives are put forth to enable the place to flourish in its splendor and be a wildlife and nature area for which future generations can enjoy. It’s also regarded as one of the best places to dive on the planet and there is a quaint town with colourful locals if you get bored of the ocean and outdoors. 

Where to stay: There is a world of great lodges, backpackers and tented camps to choose from including, Pisces Dive Charter and Retreat, Flat Cat and Triton Dive Lodge.

Where to eat: For a relatively small place Sodwana Bay has quite a lot of options and variety when it comes to restaurants try these three – The Lighthouse Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge (Italian), Ngunis Restaurant (pub fare) and Mseni Beach Lodge and Restaurant (seafood/pub fare).

When to visit: All year round, however winter is blessed with warm weather that’s not too hot or humid. Rain in certain areas during December, January and February can become quite encumbering. Winter sees dryer weather for most of the season.

Amatikulu Estuary

Amazing untouched beaches of Amatikulu, photo taken from - www.facebook.com/PrawnShackKZN.

This is a splendidly secluded part of the world, in a gorgeous estuary that makes up some of the most untouched beauty in all of KwaZulu-Natal. There really isn’t much in Amatikulu besides for charming rural villages, rolling fields and a certain kind of vastness which is unable to be found in city life.

The area is also home to The Prawn Shack a facility which is open for functions where one has accommodation facilities as well. It’s also the location of Amatikulu Nature Reserve and it is a great area for the fact that you can see wildlife and the blue Indian Ocean at the same time. Visit this website for more information.

Where to stay: Amatikulu Beach self-catering accommodation, Gingindlovu guest farm. If you can’t find accommodation here there are many options nearby and one can still take day trips to this area.

Where to eat: The Prawn Shack (variety) visit their Facebook page to see what options they have for set meals and functions.

When to visit: All year round, however winter is blessed with warm weather and not too hot or humid. Rain in certain areas during December, January and February can become quite an encumbrance winter sees dryer weather for most of the season.

Elysium Beach

The Mtwalume Tidal pool situated on Elysium Beach, KZN photo taken from www.sugarbeachresort.co.za, copywrite WeaverWorx. 

The South Coast of the Eastern Coastal region of South Africa really does have a lot to offer it’s hard to make a firm decision on where to base oneself as there really are so many wonderful beaches. If you’re looking for something a little more out the way why not try Elysium Beach, it's close enough to other less secluded areas, so do not fear, your restaurant and shopping facilities are still within driving distance if you need a fix of city life. Visit this website for more information.

Where to stay: Elysium Beach is definitely one for the self-catering holiday maker. Sugar Beach Resort does however have a Halaal restaurant. Other facilities to consider include The Laughing Forest and Anchorage B&B.

Where to eat: There aren’t many restaurant options in Elysium itself however nearby towns have many places to eat at some include the Umdoni Park Golf Club (Pennington), Village Pub & Diner (Pennington) and The Rock Music Bistro (Umzumbe).

When to visit: All year round, however winter is blessed with warm weather that is not too hot or humid. Rain in certain areas during December, January and February can become quite an encumbrance. Winter sees dryer weather for most of the season.

Cape Vidal

A lovely day at Cape Vidal This image, which was originally posted to Flickr.com, was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 21:36, 9 June 2010 (UTC) by Pauk (talk).

This is a fisherman and marine life enthusiasts haven, for years people have been frequenting this awe-inspiring part of the world for fishing and camping trips and basking in the natural innocence of the area. This is really for the traveller wishing to connect with nature. 

Where to stay: The nature in the area in such abundance that most of the accommodation facilities work within their surroundings as to not cause unnecessary damage to the natural area. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t options. Consider staying at Cape Vidal Camp, Bhangazi Bush Lodge and False Bay Guest House.

Where to eat: There are no actual restaurants in Cape Vidal so you will have to braai or self-cater, however there are many places to eat in nearby St Lucia, check out St Pizza Restaurant,Alfredos, Fur Elize Restaurant and St Pizza Restaurant and Thyme Square Coffee shop.

When to visit: Cape Vidal is a conservation area so the area will be closed and open during certain times of the day so bear this in mind when visiting on days trips. The times are as follows (October to March) 05h00 and 19h00 and winter (April to September) from 06h00 to 18h00. No one will be allowed in or out after these times. Office hours are from 08h00 to 12h30 and from 14h00 to 16h00 every day.

 


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