Durban is one of South Africa’s major beach resorts and lies close to some of the country’s finest game reserves.
Blessed with a balmy year-round Indian Ocean climate, long golden-sand beaches, a wide array of leisure activities and accommodation options to suit all budgets, multicultural Durban is a perfect honeymoon destination at any time.
Relax on the aptly named Golden Mile, a 4km-long golden-sand beach that stretches along a beachfront lined with 5-star hotels, fine dining restaurants and vibrant bars.
Ride one of the iconic and colourful rickshaws along the seafront, go swimming and surfing in the patrolled areas or stroll along the beach to see what the locals are up to, which could be anything from Shembe-style baptisms and Hindu worshipping using clay votive lamps, to ancestral offerings conducted by Zulu sangomas (traditional healers).
For an evocative insight into apartheid, visit the Kwa Muhle Museum, or experience Africa's largest marine-themed park, uShaka Marine World.
Visit the Durban Art Gallery for arts and crafts, and see ethnological artefacts at The Campbell Collection, including traditional cooking utensils, ornaments, musical instruments and various beaded clothing such as the necklace of redcoat (British) buttons worn by Zulu warriors as a sign of bravery.
Discover the essence of this multicultural city on a walking tour of the Indian Quarter, where you can browse stalls stacked with aromatic spices and colourful sari fabrics while Zulu street hawkers offer baboon skulls and dried herbs for casting, or warding off, evil spells.
At nearby Umgeni River Bird Park, see more than 300 species from around the world housed in large walk-through aviaries; don’t miss the educational ‘Free Flight’ bird show featuring a parrot, blue crane and Cape vulture.
Elsewhere, track game on a choice of hiking trails through pristine bushland in the Umfolozi Game Reserve, home to the ‘big five’.
Or try the coastal estuary and dune forests of the Mziki Trail in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers the chance to see elephants, buffaloes, hippos, crocodiles and loggerhead turtles.
Guided hikes range from a few hours to four days in length. Spy more than 400 species of birds at three of South Africa’s best bird-watching locations – St Lucia and the Mkhuze and Ndumo reserves. Umfolozi Game Reserve is a 3-hour drive from Durban, Mkhuze is around 4 hours away and St Lucia Wetland Park and Ndumo are around a 5-hour drive.
Drive the famous ‘Battlefield Route’ in the northwest corner of KwaZulu-Natal: ponder numerous museums and memorials surrounded by rolling grasslands, including the heroic battle sites at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift – immortalised in the film Zulu, starring Michael Caine.
The ‘Battlefield Route’ comprises 50 battlefields and 15 towns covering four wars. Isandlwana is a 3-hour drive from Durban, while Rorke's Drift is around a 4-hour drive.
Relax on Durban's expansive beachfront. Durban city's beachfront ranges north to south in an uninterrupted stretch of golden sand that is divided into several named sections by man-made piers.
These sections include Blue Lagoon, Laguna and the Golden Mile, which embraces Tekweni, Country Club, Oasis, Battery, North, South and Addington beaches.
Facilities on all beaches include toilets, showers, lifeguards (from 8am to 5pm) and shark nets. Marked sections are reserved for swimmers and surfers. Alcohol consumption is not allowed on the beach.
A series of pristine and often wild beaches lie to the south and north of the city.
The best beaches in and around Durban include the following …
Pick your own spot to sunbathe and go swimming and surfing from several named sections on this uninterrupted 80m-wide beach. The Golden Mile stretches for more than 4km along a beachfront promenade lined with 5-star hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Go for a stroll and watch Tai Chi practitioners, enjoy a flutter at the gaming tables of the Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World or take the kids to the themed marine water park of uShaka Marine World, which also features a dolphinarium and a restaurant with the largest shark tank in the world.
Facilities include toilets, showers, changing rooms, lifeguards, picnic areas and volleyball courts. Water sports activities include swimming, surfing, kite surfing and fishing.
Unwind on the soft sands of this very long beach and go swimming in the clean warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
The beach is flanked by two large piers and is just a stroll away from a range of beachfront restaurants, nightclubs and bars, as well as the Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World, a large complex offering gambling, a cinema and a choice of restaurants and fast food eateries.
Facilities include toilets, showers, changing rooms, lifeguards, picnic areas, volleyball and skateboarding courts. Water sports include swimming, surfing, body boarding and fishing. North Beach is accessible from Marine Parade, which stretches north from the adjacent Golden Mile.
Pick your own spot to sunbathe and swim on this pristine and unspoiled beachfront, part of an uninterrupted stretch of golden sand that runs south of Durban for 25km.
Explore the many tidal rock pools, work on your tan, go swimming or ride a reef break at the world famous surf spot, Cave Rock.
Choose from several hiking trails in the beachfront Bluff Nature Reserve, looking out for monkeys, mongoose and various species of birdlife. From atop the high dunes you can try to spot dolphins year round, as well as whales during their annual migration in the winter months.
There are no facilities here (except for those in nearby Brighton Village), so take your own food and drinks. Brighton Beach is a 20-minute drive from Durban city centre.
Discover one of KwaZulu-Natal’s best beaches, a 400m-long stretch of golden sand framed by rocky headlands and backed by a selection of shops, seafood restaurants and bars.
Sunbathe, go swimming and surfing, try a microlite flight or enjoy scenic walks on the boardwalk and along the coastline, discovering cute bays and secluded coves along the way.
Facilities include changing rooms, toilets, showers and lifeguards. Willard Beach is located at Ballito, around 50km north of Durban.
Unwind on the soft golden sands of this 80m-wide and 1.1km-long beach that stretches in front of the popular coastal resort of Margate.
A range of restaurants, cafes, bars and after-dark entertainment sit just a short walk away. The beach is set against a backdrop of estuaries and dense green forests and hillsides. Go swimming, body boarding and surfing and try fishing off the pier.
Facilities include changing rooms, toilets, showers and lifeguards. Margate Beach is located on the KwaZulu-Natal coast, around 135km south of Durban.
Choose from a range of accommodation options, including the Southern Sun North Beach hotel, which overlooks the Golden Mile, and the Beverly Hills Hotel, home to The Sugar Club, one of the city's best restaurants.
Fairmont Zimbali Lodge
Location: Zimbali Estate, Durban
Prices: from AUD227 per room
Description: This opulent, beachfront lodge is surrounded by secluded indigenous coastal forest, with a golf course and private-access beach. The resort is set on a bluff overlooking a natural lake, forested hillsides and the ocean. Guestrooms include balconies and bathrooms with separate bathtubs and showers and designer toiletries. A selection of villas offering two- to six-bed luxury self-catering accommodations are scattered around the estate. Facilities incl.: restaurant, bar, outdoor pool, room service, horseback riding, bicycles, tennis, 18-hole championship golf course, spa and beach.
The best time to visit Durban is from mid-April to late-September, when it's warm and sunny but not too humid. Durban is regarded as a year-round destination.
Durban experiences a subtropical climate with very mild, fairly dry winters and hot, wet summers.
More information on Durban weather…
Durban is located on the east coast of South Africa and is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal.
The city lies at the centre of a 600km- (370mi)- long coastal region fringed by uninterrupted stretches of golden sand beaches lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
The most convenient route to Durban is by air to King Shaka International Airport (DUR), or KSIA, located around 35km (22mi) north of the city centre.
By bus, several bus and coach companies operate between Durban and Johannesburg, taking around 7 hours for the 570km (354mi) journey.
By rail, Durban is linked by a frequent service to and from Johannesburg (allow 14 hours) and Cape Town.
By sea, the Port of Durban is the most popular cruise hub in Southern Africa.
More information on How to get to Durban…
Latest update: Durban Honeymoon Guide: 3 January, 2023