Explore Durban: The Sapphire Coast

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Sapphire CoastThis magnificent stretch of coast extends from Athlone Park in the north to Clansthal in the south, and boasts 40 kilometres of golden beaches and lush coastal forests, interspersed with lively coastal villages. The Sapphire Coast is perfectly located, bordered by the city on one side and the unspoilt beauty of the south coast on the other. To the north is the vibrant city of Durban with all the amenities and energy of a big African metropolis, and to the west are the rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal, rich in wildlife, culture and history. The King Shaka International Airport is 60 kilometres north of Amanzimtoti, along the N2 highway.

The Sapphire Coast is a place where abundant natural beauty and wildlife exist alongside stylish modern shopping malls, luxury accommodation, restaurants and sports facilities. The area is truly renowned for its beaches and wealth of ocean activities, from fishing, surfing and scuba diving to paddling in the lagoons or white water rafting. It also has a rich sense of cultural diversity, from traditional Zulu art and crafts to spicy Indian food and the oldest natural golf course in the country! The Sapphire Coast truly has something for everyone, and we welcome you to this, ‘the place of sweet water’.

The place of Sweet Water – where King Shaka once rested his troops

In 1828, the legendary Zulu King Shaka led his people on an epic journey down the wild south coast of KwaZulu-Natal. After a long march he stopped to rest beside a cool river that flowed into the Indian Ocean. King Shaka drank deeply from the river and pronounced “kanti la manzi amtoti!” – “so the water is sweet!” The river and the town that later developed around it, would henceforth be named Amanzimtoti.

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Awesome Ocean Experience

The Sapphire Coast is renowned for its wealth of ocean activities, whether you are looking for adventure or a purely relaxing family holiday. This stretch of coast has some of the most idyllic beaches in the country, with excellent swimming conditions and a high safety standard. Amanzimtoti Main Beach, Warner Beach, Winklespruit, Karridene and Umgababa are protected by shark nets and watched over by professional lifeguards.

For the adventurous at heart, there are epic surfing spots at Amanzimtoti Main Beach, Clansthal, Widenham and Warner Beach. This stretch of coast is famed for its quality right hand point-breaks and beach breaks, which work particularly well in the winter months when big swells come marching up the coast from the ‘Cape of Storms’.

The Sapphire Coast has excellent fishing conditions, particularly between May and November, with shad, salmon, barracuda and snoek among the catches. Amanzimtoti is the venue for the ‘Summer Showdown’, which is the biggest shore angling competition in KwaZulu-Natal.

Underwater Wonderland

Aliwal Shoal, just off the coast of Umkomaas, has a spectacular marine ecosystem awaiting intrepid scuba divers. The magnificent reef is alive with colourful corals, reef fish, turtles, whales, rays and moray eels. It is rated among the top five warm water diving spots in the world.

The reef is particularly renowned for its ragged-tooth sharks, which cruise the reef’s intricate gullies and caves. The reef is also inhabited by Zambezi and tiger sharks! The warm, clear water has excellent visibility and rarely drops below 19 degrees Celsius. Some of Aliwal’s dive sites include:

Raggie’s Cave – which is famed for its ragged-tooth sharks, moray eels and potato bass. Divers are only allowed to enter the caves when the sharks are not in residence.

Outside Edge – where the greatest variety of marine life on the shoal can be found, including game fish, sharks, dolphins and scorpion fish.

Wreck Dives – the MV Produce and the Nebo provide fascinating alterative sites, with excellent photo opportunities and interesting sea life, including lion fish, the rare harlequin goldie, moray eels and brindle bass.

There are many dive centres in the area that offer accredited scuba diving courses, dive equipment for hire and chartered dives to Aliwal Shoal and other locations along the coast. Divers require valid PADI, NAUI or CMAS Open Water Qualifications.

See the sardines run!

The annual Sardine Run is one of the world’s most incredible natural phenomena. Enormous shoals of sardines migrate up the coast every winter, followed by an army of dolphins, sharks, whales, game fish and diving seabirds, which feast on the small shiny fish. The sardines are often driven into shallow water by their predators where they are scooped up by eager fishermen and visitors, who come from far and wide to enjoy the experience.

Never-ending Fun in the Sunshine

rudder boat.jpgAmanzimtoti Main Beach is a hub of ocean fun, with excellent surfing, swimming and fishing conditions and some exciting water slides at Splash Water World. There are a variety of restaurants, takeaways and shops along the bustling promenade, as well as many colourful street traders selling local attire, crafts and curios.

Funland, in Amanzimtoti, is packed with exciting entertainment for the whole family, with ten-pin bowling, arcade games, dodgems and a sports pub and diner. Teens will love the Toti Paintball Arena, while young and old can enjoy an adventurous horseback ride along a beach trail. If you are looking for a leisurely afternoon in the great outdoors, go for a paddle on Amanzimtoti’s beautiful lagoon; rowing boats and canoes can be hired on the northern bank of the lagoon at Oasis Water World. The beachfront super-tube at Inyoni Rocks will provide the kids with hours of entertainment and the Ilovo River is an awesome destination for water-sports, picnics, fishing and birdlife. Visit Crocworld near Scottburgh, and get up-close and personal with a giant pre-historic crocodile! Crocworld has an excellent restaurant and offers a complete wildlife experience.


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