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Shark bait fear can't spoil Durban fun

The shark dive can be scary.
The shark dive can be scary.

The cold weather this weekend makes me long for the incredible beaches and tropical weather that my Durban friends get to experience most of the year.

After visiting two weeks ago for a spring break special, I feel the urge to take full advantage of the Durban Tsogo Sun specials that start again on October 25.

I was invited to the opulent but relaxing Garden Court South Beach.

Before checking in I rushed to get some of the city's famous Indian spices - there's really no difference in quality, but a whole lot in price.

Garden Court South Beach, located on the beach front with an executive suite looking out to the pool and the luscious beach in the distance, isn't too far from Moses Mabhida Stadium and other attractions.

OK, so the pool was supposed to be heated and wasn't, but the heat rising off the paving was enough to give me palpitations, making the cool dip refreshing after the long drive from Joburg. After freshening up I hit the beach barefoot and stopped for a quick lunch at Harpoon Harrys - a definite no-no for anything fishy or bunny related.

Joe Cools on the beach front is a much better option and provides the perfect ambience to watch the sun set with a sundowner in hand.

Garden Court South Beach, Durban offers an opulent but relaxed stay for visitors, with unrivalled views of the beautiful beach front.
Garden Court South Beach, Durban offers an opulent but relaxed stay for visitors, with unrivalled views of the beautiful beach front.

Saturday was my big day - I was about to get up close and personal with sharks at Ushaka Marine World, a five-minute drive from the hotel. As much as I love the sea and the sea life, I kept picturing how this would be my unlucky day as I braved the snorkelling experience and a dive in the shark tank.

I don't do well with activities where I'm not in control.

The staff at Ushaka assured me that I would be safe and the sharks are pretty much harmless as they swim around the tank.

I procrastinated for most of the windy but humid day as I checked out the rest of the park, from dolphin shows to the water world and eateries. Eventually I made my way back to face my fear. The snorkelling experience was fun, and mellow.

Again, I tried to escape the shark challenge and then before I knew it, I was getting into the glass tank, barely hearing how to put on the goggles as my heart revved at a million fearful beats a minute. I found solace in the fact that I could come up for air at any time.

After taking my first plunge - pushing my body right to the bottom of the tank - I actually felt liberated.

Wet n Wild slides are loads of fun.
Wet n Wild slides are loads of fun.

My swimming skills kicked in as I managed to hold my breath for three full minutes marvelling at the beasts in front of and below me.

It was exhilirating until I realised the rail inside the tank that is used for people to stand on and to push down on was a tad loose.

I panicked and immediately asked to be freed.

At least now I've worked up the nerve to take on deep sea diving in the future.

After a full, thrilling day at the park I retired to the warmth of my comfy suite revelling in my achievement .

- The SunBreaks Weekender offers discounts of up to 25%. With two kids under 18 breakfast and staying is free when sharing with two adults and it comes at a steal for R1199 a night.

- Stockenstroom was hosted by Tsogo Sun Garden Court South Beach

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