Durban, South Africa
Africa's busiest port is also one of South Africa’s premier beach destinations, with miles of golden sand skirting the Indian Ocean, and a multitude of marine activities ranging from kayaking to shark diving to swimming. Expect a melting pot of cultures, including Zulu, European, and the largest Indian population outside of India. (Gandhi lived here at one time.)
What We Love
UShaka Marine World: The centerpiece of this 40-acre complex is uShaka Sea World, one of the biggest aquariums in the world. Cool off by snorkeling among colorful corals and fish in the lagoon, or just hit the slides at the adjacent water park.
Tala Private Game Reserve: At this 7,500-acre conservation area an hour outside the city, day trippers can snap photos of hippos, giraffes, rhinos, and warthogs, plus more than 380 species of birds.
Best Known For
The Golden Mile: This famous soft-sand beach attracts families, swimmers, and sand artists year-round. Take a surfing lesson, then head to Marine Parade, where hotels line the promenade and cafes like Circus Circus serve up cocktails with a view. For a quieter sand scene, travel 20 minutes north to tony Umhlunga Rocks.
Victoria Street Market: Stalls filled with a rainbow of spices and curries line the passageways here, alongside dozens of booths selling handicrafts, textiles, and trinkets from both Africa and India.
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Who It's Best For
Soft-Adventure Buffs: Adrenaline seekers can kayak on the open ocean or down the Umgeni River; go shark-cage diving in the sea; or bungee jump from the top of Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Spicy Food Lovers: Durban curries are legendary for their complexity and heat. For an intro, order the city's best-known dish, “bunny chow,” a hollowed-out loaf of crusty bread filled with savory curry. Eat it like a Durbanite by ripping off bits of dough to dip into the spicy filling.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It Gets Hot: The climate here is a subtropical, with year-round warm temperatures. Dress in light breathable layers to beat the heat, especially during the humid summers (November through March).
This Isn't a Sleepy Beach Town: Durban is the third largest city in South Africa, so act as you would in any urban hub — keep an eye on your valuables and never leave possessions unattended on the beach.
Melissa Klurman is a New Jersey-based contributor to Sherman's Cruise who also edits and writes for Frommer's Travel Guides.