12 reasons the KZN South Coast is a top beach destination in South Africa

Summer is on the doorstep and the holidays are beckoning! Now is the time to start planning that year-end holiday – and where better to relax and cool off than the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast?

“Our tourism establishments are geared up and ready to welcome our many holiday visitors to the KZN South Coast this festive season,” notes Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of the South Coast Tourism & Investment Enterprise. “For those of you who haven’t yet decided on where to book, we’ve put together a great list of the many coastal attributes that make the Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom a prime destination.”

1. Blue Flag beaches

The recent announcement of the 2023/2024 Blue Flag Beaches positioned the KZN South Coast as having the highest number in the province. There are 5 Blue Flag beaches, with another seven attaining pilot status. Marina Beach has retained Blue Flag status for 22 consecutive years, while Trafalgar Beach has held its title for 12 consecutive years. This shows an international standard of conservation, health and safety.

2. Subtropical climate

The KZN South Coast’s beaches are not just beautiful to admire; the year-round subtropical climate and warm Indian Ocean mean visitors can swim throughout the year. There’s no better place to beat the heat this summer (or winter, spring and autumn!).

3. Tidal pools

There are 21 tidal pools dotted along the KZN South Coast, providing bathers with protected conditions throughout the year. This also happens to be another KZN record – the highest number of tidal pools in the province.

4. Snorkelling

Alongside the wonderful tidal pools, the KZN South Coast has a variety of natural rock pools on the shoreline that are ideal for snorkelling and discovering local marine life. Visitors can wait until the tide gets low before heading out with snorkelling gear, and buckets and spades for the little ones.

5. Ocean conservation

Aliwal Shoal, Protea Banks and Trafalgar are three marine protected areas (MPAs) found on the KZN South Coast. As MPAs, marine life is protected through no-take zones and other restrictions to ensure marine biodiversity and protected ocean wilderness. Aliwal Shoal is also a Hope Spot, which is a critical space identified by the non-profit Mission Blue, to create awareness about ocean issues.

6. Dive sites

In addition to being MPAs, Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks are also considered among the top scuba diving sites in the world. Aliwal Shoal has stunning fossilised sand dunes, shipwrecks and incredible shark sightings of ragged tooth, tiger and blacktip sharks. Protea Banks is home to seven shark species, with huge schools of hammerheads and ragged tooths.

7. Ocean safaris

These waters are renowned for sightings of the annual humpback whale migration, either from one of the many whale-watching decks found along the KZN South Coast, or by chartering a boat for a superb ocean safari. During the winter months, the planet’s greatest biomass migration – the Sardine Run – goes past the KZN South Coast, giving visitors the chance to view whales, dolphins, sharks and sea birds close by. Underwater ocean safaris to the top dive sites could include sightings of the highly endangered devil ray, with a cleaning station discovered recently at Aliwal Shoal.

8. Surfing

The KZN South Coast boasts some of the best point breaks in the world, making it a top destination for surfers year-round. The numerous beach breaks also make this the perfect spot to learn how to surf, with instructors taking newbies onto the waves at Scottburgh, St Michael’s and more.

9. Kitesurfing

Even if the wind picks up, there’s still lots of fun to be had at the KZN South Coast’s seaside, with kitesurfing a top water sport in the region. Palm Beach in the south is a popular kitesurfing location when the southwesterly wind picks up.

10. Campsites

The KZN South Coast is also a budget-friendly destination, boasting some award-winning campsites and caravan parks located conveniently close to the beach.

11. Coastal forests

There are a number of coastal forests and incredible nature reserves throughout the Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom, ideal for hiking, birdwatching and relaxing with a picnic. There are several established hikes found here, including the recently launched Beach-to-Beach Adventure Hike from Port Edward to St Michael’s beaches.

12. Fishing

The 120-kilometre coastal stretch from Scottburgh to Port Edward has several incredible fishing spots for every level of angler, no matter the skill or budget. The region caters to shore-based and deep-sea angling, with charter boats available.

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