When we were kids every holiday was spent in Durban. As landlocked Joburgers the annual beach holiday was something I looked forward to all the time. Once a year we packed our family of 5’s belongings into a VW Bettle and headed down to the coast. As we neared Durban, we played the game of ‘who can see the sea first’, which was accompanied by the briny smells of the ocean.
One of my favourite things to do was walk along the Marine Parade from the South to the North Beach, browsing all the vendor’s stalls. I was a child with no cash and convincing my folks to buy this and that was never successful 🙂
These days I seldom go into the city, preferring instead the quietude and serenity of the small village of Umdloti Beach.
The village has changed little over the years but the beach has changed significantly. The beautiful tidal pool most parents felt safe allowing their kids to frolick in is not so safe after all. The promenade has subsided in places because of soil erosion caused by severe storms over the years. When Che and I were last there, in August last year, the tidal beach was closed off for rehabilitation, with a huge bulldozer in the middle of the sand.
Away from the tidal pool, avid residents walk the beaches at sunset, wielding metal detectors – I wonder what they find…?
Things to remember when holidaying in Durban:
- It’s on the Indian Ocean coast so the waters are warm.
- There are amazing dive sites further north, close to Sodwana Bay.
- There are game reserves with the Big 5 just 2 hours to the north.
- uShaka Marine World is a haven for kids – the waterpark is a lot of fun.
- It has, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful aquarium in South Africa.
- The Durban Botanical Gardens is one of the city’s best-kept secrets.
- It boasts a large international airport, the King Shaka International Airport with daily domestic flights, and international flights from Istanbul, Doha, Dubai, Mauritius and other African destinations.
It’s a different experience to Cape Town. I don’t venture into Cape Town’s frigid waters but Durban is my happy beach swimming place. And it has great surfing too.