The South African coastline is immense and varied, but few sections are quite as exciting as the incredible #KZNSouthCoast, from Umkomaas to Port Edward. Along this 120-kilometre coastal stretch is a wealth of incredibly unique ocean life and marine activities just waiting to be explored by welcome tourists.
Following a stressful year, it’s important to prioritise mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing, and a trip to the ocean is the perfect remedy. The abundance of ‘Vitamin Sea’ on in this coastal #Paradise gives tourists the chance to immerse themselves in the soul-replenishing Indian Ocean, enjoying the many natural health benefits such as lowering of anxiety, pain management and improving sleep. Even the simple act of sitting on the shore and taking in the sights and sounds will reduce those months of pent-up stress.
“The KZN South Coast is an entrenched seaside holiday destination, and our strong drive towards conservation and eco-tourism has seen the local marine life thriving in our ocean waters,” explained CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT), Phelisa Mangcu. “Our many aquatic tourism establishments offer visitors the chance to enjoy the ocean life through a variety of interesting methods, from snorkelling and freediving through to whale watching and shark cage diving. There are so many reasons to #Visit #Paradise on our beaches on the #KZNSouthCoast.”
1. 5 Blue Flag Beaches
The iconic Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised voluntary awards for beaches. To qualify for such status, a series of strict environmental, educational, safety and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained. The #KZNSouthCoast has five such quality-standard Blue Flag beaches at Marina Beach, Trafalgar Beach, Southport Beach, Umzumbe Beach and Hibberdene Beach, with top-quality facilities and safe bathing.
2. 2 Marine Protected Areas
South Africa’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been established to keep marine ecosystems working harmoniously while protecting the ocean life under the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act. Within the #KZNSouthCoast’s waters there are two MPAs at Aliwal Shoal, just 4 kilometres off the Umkomaas, and Protea Banks, just 7.5 kilometres off Shelly Beach. These two are home to a variety of big marine life such as sharks, whales, turtles, rays, king fish, yellow fin tuna and barracuda.
3. World-class dive sites
These MPAs with their abundance of ocean life are world-renowned diving sites, attracting adventurers from across the globe. April to July is peak dive season and the #KZNSouthCoast has a number of registered dive operators catering to everyone from beginner through to advanced divers. Aliwal Shoal’s ‘Raggie Cave’ is a major attraction, and those wanting an up-close shark experience can try one of the SAMSA-approved dives offered here. Aliwal Shoal is also home to two iconic shipwrecks, The Produce and the Nebo. Protea Banks is known for its breathtaking shark dives which include large numbers of schooling hammerheads – perfect for advanced divers.
4. Most tidal pools in KZN
Tidal pools, whether naturally-formed or man-made, make for sheltered bathing conditions suited to children and those looking for a more relaxed ocean swim. The #KZNSouthCoast boasts the highest number of tidal pools within the province, with visitors able to enjoy the warm Indian Ocean in a more controlled environment.
5. Deep-sea fishing
There are several skiboat launch sites along the #KZNSouthCoast where avid anglers can charter boats for a day out of incredible deep-sea fishing. Fishermen are likely to catch big game species, among them sailfish, marlin, dorado and yellowfin tuna. The launch sites can be found at:
• Rocky Bay
• Shelly Beach
• Lucien Beach
• Glenmore / Munster
• Silver Beach
6. Shore angling
For anglers who prefer to cast their line from the land, the #KZNSouthCoast has a wealth of fishing hotspots. These include many rock-and-surf fishing spots at the many beaches, as well as freshwater fishing locations along river banks and dams surrounded by coastal forests and farmlands. Fishing permits are required for all anglers and these can be issued at the post office.
7. Excellent surfing
This ‘point break heaven’ attracts international surfers who are looking for incredible surfing opportunities along the 120-kilometre coastline. Some of the top surfing spots on the #KZNSouthCoast include Umzumbe, Shelly Beach, St Michael’s-on-Sea, Scottburgh, Southbroom, Margate, Port Edward and Lucien Beach. However, for those looking to learn the art, the #KZNSouthCoast has Learn to Surf schools that can teach surfing in as few as five lessons.
8. Annual whale migration
Between April and December, visitors to the #KZNSouthCoast are treated to an incredible spectacle as the Humpback and Southern Right whales migrate northwards towards Mozambique. Breaching whales can be spotted from the shore, as well as from the many whale watching decks, including Umtentweni Conservancy Whale Deck, Ramsgate Whale Deck, Impithi Beach Kiosk, and Umdoni Golf Club Whale Deck.
9. Birding opportunities
In addition to the maritime bird species found on the shoreline, the coastal and wetland environments alongside the #KZNSouthCoast beaches create the ideal habitat for a number of unique bird species. Twitchers and novice birdwatchers flock to the shores, following the South Coast Birding Route to view the nearly 500 bird species.
10. Annual Sardine Run
Winter is a time when marine life along the #KZNSouthCoast puts on a show and a once-in-a-lifetime experience is the annual Sardine Run. When the waters cool down sufficiently, the silver sardines swim close to shore, attracting a variety of bigger game fish, dolphins, sharks, whales and overhead seabirds all ready to feast. #TheGreatestShoalonEarch is the planet’s biggest mass migration, and the #KZNSouthCoast has front-row seats to the spectacle. Sardine Run updates are shared on the USCT social media platforms listed below.
11. Beautiful Weather
The year-round pleasant weather and sunshine found along this coastal #Paradise makes a seaside retreat possible from January to December. In fact, the winter weather in these parts is particularly welcoming, with clear, sunny skies, calm seas and milder temperatures making for ideal beachgoing conditions. Although the mornings are quiet and calm on the beach from September to December, visitors can enjoy some kitesurfing in the afternoon when the wind picks up somewhat.
For more information about USCT, as well as events and activities on the #KZNSouthCoast, download the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app from Google Play and Apple stores or #Visit www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za. USCT is also on social media – follow the ‘South Coast Tourism’ Facebook page, or @infosouthcoast on Twitter.