#TravelTuesday: why Ballito is the go-to destination on the Dolphin Coast

26 February 2019 - 01:00
By Sanet Oberholzer
A view of the ocean from Beach Bums restaurant.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer A view of the ocean from Beach Bums restaurant.

Not quite as busy as Durban and not the rich playground that is Umhlanga, Ballito is the alternative that offers everything people love about the Dolphin Coast without the buzz of the city and for a smaller price tag. It’s relaxed, easy and the place to be if you want to unwind.

When to travel

The weather is generally good year-round. KwaZulu-Natal is known and loved for its warm, tropical climate: blazing and busy during the summer months and blissful, warm days during the winter which also forms part of the quieter time of the year.

If you want to do some dolphin and whale watching, dolphins are spotted all year round and the best time of the year for whale spotting is between July and December, particularly between September and October.

How to get there

As with most places in South Africa, Ballito can easily be reached by road. It’s about an hour’s drive from Durban, linked by the faster N2 or the scenic route along the M4. You can travel to Durban using the train or a bus and make your way from there to Ballito using a bus or a car. King Shaka International Airport is a 20-minute drive from Ballito and offers a good alternative to a long trip via land.

Unwind on the beach with a cocktail or mocktail.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer Unwind on the beach with a cocktail or mocktail.

Highlights you shouldn’t miss

1. Sugar Rush Park is a family-focussed, outdoor destination. Attractions include a petting zoo, the Sugar Rush Express train, bicycle trails, Ndlondlo Reptile Park, a gymnastic and trampoline park and games of laser tag.

2. The Ballito Brewing Company is a microbrewery just outside of Ballito. For those with a taste for craft alcoholic beverages, they produce craft beers and gin and tonic. Brewery tours are offered subject to bookings and include a tour of the brewery, an explanation of how craft beer is made, a taste of their available craft beers and a complimentary gift pack of three beers to take home with you.

3. Mozambik restaurant in Ballito is admittedly a little more special than most Mozambik establishments. Complete with a ship replica and seafood dishes that differ from day to day, Mozambik offers diners a relaxed atmosphere where they can sit back and unwind after a day on the beach, be it over a delicious dinner or for cocktail hour.

4. Beaches, beaches, beaches! With such good weather year-round, you cannot go wrong by soaking up the sun with sand between your toes. Willard beach is the main beach and is a favourite amongst hipsters, families and surfers alike. Because of its close proximity to shops and the presence of lifeguards and shark nets, this beach gets quite busy. Thompson’s Bay is an alternative. It also gets busy but its ‘hole in the wall’ makes it unique and picturesque.

uShaka Sea World aquarium
Image: Sanet Oberholzer uShaka Sea World aquarium

5. With their slogan “forever chilled”, Beach Bums is situated on the shore of Casaurina beach south of Ballito and north of Durban. It offers seating indoors and outdoors with chairs literally on the beach. They often have live music and host weekly events and the menu offers options from breakfast to dinner with a long list of cocktails or jam jars to choose from.

6. If you have a few days and an appetite for marine life, make the drive to Durban’s uShaka Marine World. It boasts Africa’s highest water slide in its water park and Africa’s largest aquarium. Catch a penguin presentation, a dolphin show or a seal show before taking a walk along the Durban pier on the golden mile.

The popular stretch of beach front in Durban, the Golden Mile
Image: Sanet Oberholzer The popular stretch of beach front in Durban, the Golden Mile