North Coast, KwaZulu-Natal, is renowned for its endless beaches and breathtaking scenery. It is the place where the great Zulu King, Shaka, was buried and features dozens of sites linked to this warrior and his legacy. Its rich Indian influence also makes for a fascinating voyage of discovery.
KwaZulu Natal's premier coastal holiday town is Ballito, which lies just 30 minutes north of Durban in the heart of the North Coast, is nestled between rippling fields of sugar cane, KwaZulu Natal's famous Green Gold. The friendly, village atmosphere is a welcome haven from the fast pace of big city life, with golden beaches and sheltered coves that are ideal for a day of fun in the sun.
The North Coast is also known as the Dolphin Coast due to the hundreds of bottlenose dolphins that frequent the coast. They can be seen all year round, frolicking in the warm waters just offshore.
The coast can be explored by boat, providing front row seats from which to watch the dolphins play, or by horse back or microlight, which offers a bird's eye-view of this spectacular region. Of course you could just while away the days lazing on the exquisite beaches of Ballito.
The North Coast is a hidden treasure of history and culture. Cultural and historical influences vary from European, Indian and Zulu. The region has an embattled past, ruled by some of the most respected and feared warrior chiefs. The many cultural dependants of the various role players of the region offer a unique experience.
The influence of the Zulu culture and the legacy left by King Shaka is tangible here. The King Shaka Heritage Route follows in the footsteps of one of the great Zulu chiefs. King Shaka Zulu is considered by many as the architect of the Zulu nation. He moulded dozens of scattered clans into a powerful unified force.
Shaka's grave forms part of the Route, which takes in numerous sites associated with his reign. You can also visit the tiny town of Shakaskraal - the site of Shaka's royal military homestead and today home to many traditional African healers. Explore this theme further on the Muti (African medicine) Trail in the Harold Johnson Nature Reserve.
The North Coast has a strong Indian influence, reflecting the history of Indian labourers who were brought in to work the sugar cane fields. Visit Indian temples in KwaDuzuka-Stanger or pop into the colourful markets to pick up authentic food, curios and spices at bargain prices.
For the more adventurous and thrill-seeking visitors, the Dolphin Coast has a number adventure activities on offer. Swim with the dolphins in their own environment (conditions permitting); take an educational boat tour of the Ocean Wilderness Trail from Salmon Bay; take an exciting low altitude flight over Ballito and the surrounding coast in a piloted microlight; explore the KwaZulu Natal North Coast on the back of a quad bike; or visit a nearby crocodile breeding farm.
The Dolphin Coast, and surrounding areas, boasts some of the finest golfing in South Africa. These magnificent golf courses are both challenging and unforgettably beautiful, with unique settings and breathtaking views. Prince's Grant Golf Estate, just twenty kilometres from Ballito is rated as one of the top twenty golf courses in South Africa; the Simbithi Country Club meanders its way around the beautiful Simbithi Eco-Estate; the superbly beautiful Zimbali Country Club offers world-class standards for top players and higher handicap players alike; and the gracious Umhlali Country Club with its unique settings, superb greens and resident zebra, makes a round of golf an absolute pleasure.
Nature lovers can enjoy the Dolphin Coast's wide and exotic range of flora and fauna at one of the many nature reserves, wildlife parks, hiking trails and picnic sites in the area.
The Dolphin Coast is close enough to Zululand to take a drive north and explore the African game reserves. The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Park is approximately 257km north of Ballito. Most of the big game species including lion, cheetah, leopard, elephant, white and black rhinoceros, buffalo, leopard and giraffe live in the reserve. Apart from the game viewing drives, there are also two self-guided auto trails.
Harold Johnson Nature Reserve is situated on the banks of the Tugela River, north of Zinkwazi. This reserve is run by the KZN Wildlife organisation and offers walking trails, picnic sites, a small variety of game and a large variety of bird life.
Dolphins and whales are considered to be the "Big Two" of the ocean. Go out to sea to get a close up view of these beautiful and mysterious animals. Dolphin, Humpback and Southern Right Whales can regularly be seen from shore. Three artificial reefs created by the Oceanographic Research Institute (based at uShaka Marine World) offer divers an opportunity to view a wide variety of marine life.
Just because the sun has gone down, does not mean the fun has to stop. Take the family out on the town and dine at one of Ballito's numerous wonderful restaurants. You'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out on a wide variety of delicious cuisine. Whether you're in the mood for Italian, Chinese, French, Portuguese, superb Seafood or a simple cup of coffee with a homemade baked treat on the side, any one of Ballito's wonderful restaurants and cosy coffee shops guarantee fine dining for any appetite.
The Dolphin Coast is also a great place to shop ‘til you drop, from the curio shops to the shopping malls, you are sure to find what you're looking for from a wide range of goods and services. You can also choose to see the latest movie at one of Ballito's two cinemas.
The Dolphin Coast is well-equipped to take care of your health, beauty and fitness needs as well. A full range of professional spa and beauty services are available in salons set in exotic and relaxing surroundings. So go ahead and pamper yourself - you deserve it!
While beaches, battle sites and heritage routes comprise the major North Coast attractions, the coastal town of Ballito, flanked to the east by golden beaches and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean offers up endless North Coast activities and total relaxation.