Richards Bay, South Africa
Richards Bay, in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa, offers a unique sense of place, with Zulu dance and music; palm trees and tropical weather; and an incredible array of culture and wilderness coming together right outside the city. It’s also a jumping off point for some of the most impressive game viewing in Africa, including the largest population of endangered white rhinos in the world.
What We Love
Beaches: A short hop from the cruise port, Alkantstrand’s warm Indian Ocean surf, soft sand, and full-time lifeguards make it popular with beachgoers and swimmers year-round. A road-trip worth the drive is to St. Lucia, less than an hour north of Richards Bay — it’s one of the most beautiful and pristine coastal areas in all of South Africa.
Best Known For
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park: Hluhluwe-Imfolozi (shloo-shloo-ee uhm-fah-loh-zee) Park has nearly 2,000 endangered white rhinos — by far the largest number in the world (thus increasing your chances of spotting them). You'll also be able to search for the rest of the “big five” of safari lore here: lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo.
Shakaland: This replica of a traditional Zulu homestead focuses on legendary warrior King Shaka. It's a transporting introduction to the Zulu culture, with demonstrations of everything from traditional beer brewing to spear making.
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Who It's Best For
Surfers: Experienced surfers will want to grab a board and hit the waves — the swells here draw surfers from around the globe.
Twitchers: The birdlife around Richards Bay is epic, with more than 350 endemic species calling the area home. Birdwatchers will also want to grab binoculars for a trip to nearby Umfolozi River Lodge and Bird Park.
Wildlife Watchers: Rhinos, hippos, lions, leopards, and elephants are all within a two-hour drive of port.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Water Safety: Sharks and rip currents are both safety issues on South Africa’s eastern coast. If you’re swimming, stick to the well-marked, protected beaches that have both lifeguards and shark nets.
Melissa Klurman is a New Jersey-based contributor to Sherman's Cruise who also edits and writes for Frommer's Travel Guides.