Durban in its heyday was the #1 tourist spot for beach seekers, and became many a city dweller’s seasonal migration destination. The lure of warm waters, white sandy beaches and a bustling promenade was strong. But now the general perception of Durban is one of crime and grime. Which is not the case and a little unfair as the past few years has seen a radical shift in the local municipalities getting their asses into gear and “cleaning” up the place. And it may have taken quite some time but it has paid off. Durban and the surrounds are set for a revival – and if the quality of the new Durban International airport is anything to go by they have all the makings of a world class coastal city. Where else in South Africa (and the world for that matter) can you in the space of 5km’s go swimming at a blue flag beach (that won’t numb your nether regions it’s so cold), take a ride on a rickshaw, buy a pair of locally hand-made leather sandals, dive with sharks, eat 5 star cuisine or hurtle down the tallest water slide in Africa.
On our trip we stayed in a hotel just outside Durbs in a little town called Toti (Amanzimtoti), which although was peaceful and away from all the brouhaha and big city lights, it meant there was a bit of a drive to get into the main centre of Durban. Some of the exciting recommendations and must do activities and experiences when you’re in Durban are:
1. Zanzibar Restaurant, Cocktail and Sushi Bar(Amanzimtoti) – 031 916 3611
Zanzibar features a fusion of Mozambican and oriental influences. So while there is an impressive selection of sushi, they’re also pros at grilled prawns and other more traditional seafood. While we were there they had a special on prawns, where for R99 you get a KG of prawns – and damn were they good. The atmosphere and vibe in there was island themed with oriental accents here and there. You’re spoilt with a ocean view and just across the road and over the tree tops is the beach. The bar and deck upstairs has a full sea view. If you’re looking for a quaint restaurant with hugely tasty food with a view in the quieter part of Durban’s surrounding towns then Zanzibar is a must.
2. uShaka Marine World – http://www.ushakamarineworld.co.za/
No trip to Durban is complete without a trip to uShaka Marine World. It’s about a R100 to get in and once you’re in you have access to all the slides, aquarium, sea-life shows, shops, restaurants etc. uShaka also claims to have the highest water slide in Africa, which sounds quite hair raising but is a little tame. If you’re not too keen on all the slides, the aquarium is an absolute must-see. Everything from sharks, turtles and sting rays (with everything in between) can be seen swimming around and interacting in their “natural” habitat. One can even – at a nominal fee – go snorkeling or for a sea bed walk in a special section which makes it feels as though you’re in amongst the fishes and sharks. The world class Moyo restaurant can also be found on the pier just opposite uShaka and not only boasts 5 star African inspired cuisine but 180 degree views of the sea as it is positioned right at the end of the pier.
3. The Stables Wine Estate – 033 266 6781 – www.stableswine.co.za
The Stables Wine Estate pioneered the way to becoming the 1st vineyard to produce a wine in KwaZulu-Natal. Establishing a new “Wine of Origin” area in South Africa. And in case you were wondering this ain’t no Mickey Mouse “back garden” estate as the The Stables Wine Estate in the Midlands of KZN brags 27 hectares of vines. I wasn’t able to visit the estate on this trip but this is going to be 1st on the list with my next visit – I’m itching to compare varietals from the established Cape and now KZN areas. But for all those culturally (and “viticulturally”) inclined this is an absolute must. The estate also features a top restaurant for the full wine and dine experience.
4. Isle of Capri Harbour Boat Trip – 031 305 3099
Durban has one of the busiest ports in Africa, and what better way to see this than by boat. R50 per person gets you a 30 min trip around the harbor which is not only relaxing but interesting. What’s more is that you can bring your own drinks on board to make it a bit more relaxing. You will be taken for a trip out an along the harbour. Make sure to go on a clear, wind-free day otherwise you may find the watering spraying up from the side a tad annoying.
5. Big Rush – Big Swing – http://www.bigrush.co.za
Not for the faint hearted the Big Rush experience is an extreme activity that sees you jumping off a platform at the Moses Mabida football stadium. 60 metres of freefall at over 100kph – gives quite the rush. I wouldn’t say I’m an extreme sports junkie but not a complete adrenaline-sissy either. But this I can say will put a patch of hair on your chest, and a pile of poo in your pants. It’s high. It’s fast. And the air is literally sucked from your chest as you leap off that platform. You’re looking about R550 for the jump and an extra R200 for a video to be made of your jump. Being semi-indoors it’s possible to jump even if the weather isn’t looking to good. An absolute must do for any thrill seeker!
By James Mew for Mantality.co.za