Durban, South Africa

Durban North beach amusements, South Africa

Durban South Beach.

Why visit Durban?

Durban is big, brash and the antithesis of Cape Town. This is the Atlantic City of South Africa, and it’s determined to part you from your wad with minimum intellectual input and and maximum speed.

That’s where the promenade comes in. Loaded with attractions from the uShaka Marine World at the south end to casinos and beaches reaching to infinity and beyond at the north end, it’s liberally scattered with kiosks, hustlers, cotton candy, sand, skate parks, pickpockets and – at night – muggers.

Durban surf beach, South Africa beaches

You’ve got to admire their total disregard for the law of the Durban beach.

But keep your wits about you and your wallet well zipped away and this is a very lively, happening city, with fantastic wide, clean beaches, warm surf (24C in summer) protected by shark nets and lifeguards, endless things to do and watch on and off the promenade and great bars, restaurants and clubs.

View of Durban The Golden Mile, South Africa

The Golden Mile is the local nickname for the busy hi-rise development alongside the beaches here. Visiting during the holidays ensures you’ll never walk alone, but visit off season and it’ll be you and the surfers, mano a mano.

Downtown has a cluster of reasonable museums but most touristy shops seem to have migrated to malls so there isn’t much to keep you away from the beach/promenade zone – except, perhaps, some of the splendid golf courses scattered around.

To keep you and your foreign wallet intact the beach strip is patrolled by police, monitored by CCTV cameras and well lit at night. No problem. But, as usual, avoid dark deserted areas, and don’t wander around in the middle of the night, especially between the port and downtown.

Umhlanga Rocks

Distant view of Durban from Umhlanga beach, South Africa beaches

Umhlanga Rocks with Durban city centre in the distance.

A quieter, safer (duller, some would say) alternative to Durban is a few kilometres north at Umhlanga Rocks, where luxury apartment blocks and hotels line the broad sweeps of sand and appear to embrace a quieter generation that no longer surf and are in bed by 10pm with a cup of cocoa.

Umhlanga beach, closed during the 'sardine run' when sharks attack, Durban, South Africa

Though Umhlanga’s not safer when the sardines are on the run pursued by gulls and Great Whites in a feeding frenzy!

Durban Weather

Durban not only has warmer waters than Cape Town but it also has warmer weather, with average summer highs of 28C (82F) and 23C (73F) in winter and lows of 21C (70F) in summer and 12C (54F) in winter. Summer is, of course, November-February.
The best time to go there is when rainfall is low and extremes of cool and heat don’t occur, in the shoulder months, April May, August, September.