Durban is cool
The typical South African holidayhas an outline similar to this: First one flies into Joburg and take a look at the latest hipster scene, pop over to Kruger National Park for Game Reserve experience like none other, then drive down to Cape Town to sip local wines on the waterfront with the amazing Table Mountain in the backdrop.
And that’s awesome, but it still means most visitors miss out on Durban! What.
Joburg is trendy (well only as it’s the central city), Cape Town is glamorous (party like a Rockstar), but Durban is cool.
Really cool. Seriosuly…
That’s why around a million South Africans flock to the beaches every summer (around Christmas or New Year, as such its advisable to book early, very). If you have read some of our other blogs you can see why.
If you’re wondering what the low down is and what all these cool people are getting up to, here are 10 great reasons to visit.
The Golden Mile
We have said it once and will say it again, Durban’s beachfront has been completely redeveloped for the 2010 World Cup, so with its new makeover, its truly one of the best places to experience all that Durban has to offer and take a long beautiful stroll down the promenade.
If the weather gets the better of you, why not flag a Zulu rickshaw. A century ago, more than 2,000 of them crowded the streets and docks.
Sadly only about 20 registered pullers remain, however they are all wearing beaded headdresses that match the decorations on their rides. Its worth it, trust us.
Along the roadside, stalls offer beach gear and Zulu crafts. On the beaches, sculptors create sand landmarks and wildlife which truly takes a lot of skill and is an adventure the whole family can enjoy.
Durban’s beach is one of the few places where South Africans of all stripes mingle — surfers, women in burkinis, pensioners on a stroll and kids playing on the well-maintained public slides. This is one of the biggest reasons Durban is truly one of the coolest places in all of Africa! This is what makes South Africa so great.
uShaka Marine World
At the one end of the Golden Mile is The Point and overlooks the entrance to the city’s famous harbor.
The Point hosts high-end condos, linked by canals so you can keep your boat there. Wouldn’t that be nice J
One of the main attractions is uShaka Marine World (this is a no miss sceneranio, we recommend everyone if they have time to go check this out, the whole family will love it), a water park and aquarium.
Moses Mbhida Stadium
At the other end of the Golden Mile is the Durban’s city’s sports complex, this is dominated by the soccer stadium recently put up for the World Cup.
Even if there’s not a match on, it’s worth a visit to ride up to the top of the arch that stretches over the field for an unrivaled view of the city.
There’s a quick way down via the Big Rush Big Swing, an 80-meter free fall over the field.
KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board
The Sharks Board maintains the nets that protect the city’s beaches. It’s possible to book an early morning boat ride with the crew that maintains them every morning.
The boats leave from Wilson’s Wharf and ride through the harbor, which gives a sense of the gigantic scale of the container ships that serve Africa’s busiest port.
It’s rare to see a shark around the nets, but for those that really need a Jaws moment there are public shark dissections at the Board’s visitor center.
The origins of the name are a mystery, but this curry served in a hollowed-out bread loaf is the quintessential Durban meal.
No rabbits are harmed, it’s usually beef, chicken or mutton.
The theory goes that the dish was created as a meal-to-go that farm workers could hold in one hand. To sample one, look for any crowded takeaway counter or head to Gounden’s.
Durban’s art museum was the first in the country to start collecting African art.
It’s housed inside the city’s neo-Baroque City Hall (Church Street, Durban), which is worth a visit to explore the markets on the surrounding streets or to check out what’s on at the Tudor-style Playhouse Theatre.
Durban loves its local designers, and with reason.
For local crafts, you can save yourself a lot of walking and sunburn with a visit to the African Art Centre, a well-curated non-profit that scours the province for the best of the best.
For fashion, antiques and bric-a-brac, Helen Joseph Road in Glenwood is lined with retail gems.
Low-key fine dining
Some cities keep their best restaurants in posh locales. In Durban, some of the best dining is at the docks, in a shipping container or in the parking lot of a strip mall.
Bud’s on the Bay offers wharfside dining with its own brand of upmarket bunny chow and creations like Zulu sushi (seared steak).