There is no shortage of beachfront accommodation in Durban, where ‘The Golden Mile’ is a chock-a-block stretch of apartments, hotels and services catering for holidaymakers. It spans North and South Beaches, which are a short stroll across the road from this concentration of accommodation. A promenade runs the length of the beachfront and is filled with seaside activity.
According to Mayasree Moodley, Public Relations Officer for Durban Tourism, the following beachfront properties are among the city’s most popular:
- Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani, a two-tower complex occupying a North Beach location with 734 rooms, six food and beverage outlets, three heated pools and a spa,
- Suncoast Towers, a boutique hotel opposite North Beach. It has 36 rooms and suites, a spa and fitness centre, and is adjacent to the Suncoast Casino. Guests can enjoy meals reflecting Durban’s Indian heritage at the Jeera restaurant, as well as cocktails and music at The Bar.
- Garden Court Marine Parade, family-friendly and positioned on North Beach, with 352 sea-facing rooms. A special feature is a heated roof-top swimming pool, making for a great back-up plan on those rare days when the beach is too windy. Breakfast and buffet dinner is served in the Peppa restaurant.
- Garden Court South Beach has 414 sea- or city-facing rooms and two restaurants – The Breakfast Room for buffet breakfast and Mustards Grill for light meals, dinner and drinks.
- Gooderson Tropicana Hotel is an affordable, mid-market South Beach facility, with 168 en-suite rooms and two restaurants. Family-friendly, it offers baby sitting and childcare.
- Protea Hotel by Marriott Edward, a South Beach grande dame with an elegance reminiscent of Victorian times. It has 101 rooms, most with sea views. A rooftop pool, 120-seat Brasserie Restaurant and a bar are other amenities.
All these properties are within easy reach of a number of attractions, including the highly rated theme park, uShaka Marine World; Wilson’s Wharf for shopping, eating and entertainment; the Durban Botanical Gardens; and the Suncoast Casino. The casino is a Tsogo Sun development with a plethora of entertainment such as dining, gaming, movies and live shows.
The Moses Mabhida Stadium, renovated for the 2010 World Cup, is not far off and tours of the venue are offered daily. Tourists also enjoy its Sky Car ride up a stadium arch, taking them to a 106m-high viewing platform for panoramic views of the city. The fit and able can also reach the viewing platform on foot, taking 550 stairs, which should take 20 minutes or so. Some 70m up is a Big Swing platform, from where the brave can leap into the stadium bowl, swinging out in a massive 220m arc.
There are also some spectacular beach spots a little way out of Durban, both to the north and south.
Northwards is the holiday resort village of Umhlanga Rocks, and although some would say it’s no longer a village owing to large-scale development of holiday facilities and large shopping centres, it retains an atmosphere of intimacy and casualness.
The coastline is lined with apartment blocks, hotels and B&Bs and among those at the top of the ladder are the famed Beverly Hills Hotel and The Oyster Box. Continuing north is the luxurious Fairmont Zimbali Resort, where both beach and golfing activities are superb.
Stretching south of Durban is the Sapphire Coast, a string of resort towns including Amanzimtoti, Warner Beach, Winkelspruit, Illovo, Umgababa and Umkomaas. This is family-friendly holiday terrain with a good spread of timeshare resorts, self-catering facilities and B&Bs. There are also some good scuba diving spots, such as Aliwal Shoal, a fossilised sand dune off the Umkomaas river mouth.