Durban Things to Do

  • Rockpools at Umhlanga
    Rockpools at Umhlanga
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Beach at Umhlanga
    Beach at Umhlanga
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Things to Do
    by CatherineReichardt

Best Rated Things to Do in Durban

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    Aquarium at uShaka World is worth a visit

    by CatherineReichardt Updated May 14, 2012

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    (work in progress)
    The aquarium at uShaka World is a welcome addition to Durb's tourist offerings.

    The design of the aquarium is based on a sunken ship and is frankly odd. Aesthetically it didn't excite me, but I have to credit it for being original, and it will probably appeal to kids (mine weren't with me at the time to offer a definitive opinion).

    The best exhibit for me was the tank entirely devoted to stonefish, which wasn't something that I'd seen elsewhere. These highly venomous fish rely on camouflage and make staggeringly convincing stones - on first inspection, I estimated that there were three or four in the tank, but the more I looked, the more there were, and the final head count was well over a dozen!

    One of the great attractions of uShaka World is that you can snorkel in one of the larger tanks: not the shark or stonefish tank, I should add! I visited late in the day, so didn't see anyone doing this, but I imagine that it must be amazingly exciting for kids who are only learning to snorkel to do so in close proximity to some pretty big fish! Don't know how they'd cope with huge numbers in peak season, but presumably they manage this - maybe the cost is exorbitant ;) ???

    On the downside, I found that the signage in the aquarium was sub standard, and the notices that were in place weren't always obvious. On this count, the Two Oceans aquarium in Cape Town is streets ahead, and, to my mind, is the better of the two aquaria. Having said that, if you're not going to visit Cape Town and/or you're in Durban anyway and looking for something to do with the kids - especially if the weather's not good - this is an excellent option (and, let's face it, your kids are going to try and drag you to uShaka World anyway, so you might as well give in gracefully!)

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Aquarium

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    uShaka - Aquarium aquatics

    by Gillybob Updated Jan 12, 2008

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    uShaka is the fairly recently built aquarium on the sea front at Durban. As with all aquariums, it will take a while for the tanks to bed in and look like their intended natural locations, but they are already very well stocked. There is also an adjoining water park where the kids can have a great time riding all the slides into the pools.

    This aquarium also gives you the options of a snorkel tank where there is plenty to see, even if the tank still has a very new look about it.

    There is also the opportunity to take a snuba where you go down to between 3 and 4 metres attached to an air hose. In the snuba tank there are non-predatory sharks and rays as well as fish.

    uShaka Sea World and Wet 'n' Wild is open Monday to Sunday 09:00 to 18:00.

    Enjoying a snuba experience! Seahorses in tank
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    • Aquarium
    • Diving and Snorkeling

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    The Sardine Run

    by GerryFM Written Oct 31, 2003

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    Witness the phenomenon of the annual sardine run or as the locals like to call it 'The greatest shoal on earth.'

    Every June or July, huge shoals of sardines leave their home on the Aghulas Banks to make their way northward to Mozambique along the coast travelling close in-shore and even, occasionally beaching themselves.

    'Sardine fever' sets in as thousands of people rush to the seaside to help themselves to these tasty morsels. Serious fishermen take to their ski-boats to take advantage of the excellent fishing afforded by the number of game fish following the sardines. Thousands of bottlenose and common dolphins as well as the humpback, southern right and mink whales are in pursuit. Add to this hundreds of Cape gannets and seagulls circling overhead and you have spectacular ocean frenzy that is believed to be unique to this coastline.

    The Sardine Run
    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Relax at the tranquil Umgeni River Bird Park

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jun 25, 2011

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    The Umgeni River Bird Park is located just inland of the Umgeni River mouth, and has been constructed in a disused quarry. The rather uninspiring website listed below doesn't do it justice, but I have included it nonetheless to provide access to up-to-date information on opening hours and pricing.

    The old quarry walls have been cleverly landscaped to create waterfalls and cliffs, and the dense vegetation provides is a lot of shade, which is extremely welcome on a hot day.

    The Umgeni River Bird Park was opened in April 1984 and was privately funded by a group of bird enthusiasts who saw a need for education. By 1989, the park was recognised as the “Premier Durban Attraction” by the Durban Tourism Board and was home to over 4,500 birds of 400 different species. The park pioneered the concept of the Free Flight Bird Show in South Africa as early as 1995 (now also a feature of the excellent Montecasino Bird Park in Johannesburg).

    As is sadly so often the case, problems set in when the original founder retired in 1997 and the park was sold to the Tsogo Sun entertainment group. Tsogo Sun closed the park at the end of August, 2009 but it was reopened in June 2010 after the Regency Foundation Network agreed to fund its purchase and the City of Durban committed to taking over the operating expenses.

    Obviously the birds are the main attraction, but the attractively landscaped surroundings and peaceful ambience are also a major drawcard. For families and animal enthusiasts, it is a logical add on to the wildlife experiences of the aquarium at uShaka World and the Natal Sharks Board at Umlanga Rocks, as well as the excellent inland game reserves such as Hluhluwe.

    Sadly we haven't had the chance to visit the Bird Park in several years, but I hope that it is still as lovely place to retreat as it was back in 2003 - if you visit, please let me know what it's like today!

    Roller Spoonbill mistakes Mum's shoelace for a worm!

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    Umhlanga beach: sand + rockpools = ideal for kids!

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jun 25, 2011

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    I must confess up front that I've never really been a 'beach person' but since I had kids, I am fast discovering their virtues!

    Umhlanga (pronounced "Um - shlanga") is located a short drive north of Durban and is one of the North Coast's most famous beaches. I like it because although it's a beautiful beach, it's not just a stretch of sand and offers lots of rock pools to explore - much more my sort of thing!

    Umhlanga is a major holiday destination, and offers all the amenities and entertainment that you would expect as a result. As KZN has a subtropical climate, the tourist season is not as limited as that in the Cape (its major competitor) and Umhlanga attracts visitors pretty well year round, as well as a large number of retirees. If I might offer a word of advice, avoid visiting during the long Christmas holidays and over Easter unless you want to pay top dollar and really enjoy (lots and lots of) company!

    For me, the biggest attraction of Umlanga has always been the brilliant Natal Sharks Board centre at Umhlanga Rocks (see my travel tip), and combining beach and Sharks Board would be a really great day out.

    This area got hit by storms a couple of years ago, and has been upgraded as a result - I haven't visited since, but it was pretty nice before, so it must be even better now!

    Beach at Umhlanga Rockpools at Umhlanga Beach at Umhlanga

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    Gateway Shopping Centre

    by MikeAtSea Written Apr 5, 2005

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    One of the largest shopping centres for the metro Durban is situated in Umhlanga Rocks.
    Built in sugar cane land this shopping complex offers besides plenty of shopping, a climbing tower, an IMAX theatre, a surfing venue and tons of restaurants and cafes.
    Best you check the web link below for more information and also certain special activities that may occur there.

    Gateway Shopping Centre
    Related to:
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    • Arts and Culture
    • Theater Travel

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    Queen Victoria Statue

    by MikeAtSea Written Feb 11, 2005

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    Natal which is known as KwaZulu Natal today was the only province of South Africa where British influence was predominant since the settler times. Hence a lot of people still say Natal – the last British Outpost. Victoria the long reigning Empress has got her statue right opposite the Town Hall.

    Queen Victoria Statue
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    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

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    Moses Mabhida Stadium - Sky Car

    by MikeAtSea Updated Jan 12, 2010

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    One of the newest additions to Durban is the sky car that operates from the Northern side of the newly built Moses Mabhida Soccer Stadium. The car takes you right to the top of the arch that allows specatacular views over the beachfront and city.

    Moses Mabhida Stadium - Sky Car Moses Mabhida Stadium - Sky Car Moses Mabhida Stadium - Sky Car
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    • Architecture

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    Smuts Statue

    by MikeAtSea Written Feb 11, 2005

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    Seldom does one see a statue of an Afrikaaner in former British nominated regions of the world. Exception is Jan Christian Smuts who changed sides from the Boer Army to join the British Forces in successful battles against the Germans during World War I. His statue is placed outside the town hall as well as outside Westminster in London

    Smuts Statue
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    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

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    The Valley of the Thousand Hills

    by MikeAtSea Updated Feb 11, 2005

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    On the Western outskirts is this stretch of rural country side directly outside of the city of Durban. Here many Zulus reside next to small towns and the garden suburbs of Durban. The parallel road to the main highway N3 makes a lovely drive with beautiful views over dams and villages.

    The Valley of the Thousand Hills
    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • School Holidays
    • Family Travel

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    The Drakensberg

    by MikeAtSea Written Feb 11, 2005

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    About two hours drive inland from Durban are the Drakensberg a mountain range that goes above 3500 meters. Here mountain walks, unspoiled valleys and the adventurous Sani Pass invite the mountain lovers. During the winter months of June and July it is possible that it even snows here even though that in Durban one still swims in the sea.

    The Southern Drakensberg
    Related to:
    • Mountain Climbing
    • Road Trip
    • Hiking and Walking

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    The Vasco da Gama Clock

    by MikeAtSea Written Feb 11, 2005

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    A present from the Portuguese Gouvernement to the city of Durban commemorating the 25th of December 1498 when da Gama discovered the region of what is today Durban. The original name Natal comes from the Portuguese word for Christmas still remembering the originally discovery as the Christmas Province.

    The Vasco da Gama Clock
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture

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    The Yacht Harbour

    by MikeAtSea Written Feb 11, 2005

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    Having the warm waters of the Indian Ocean right at ones door steps accompanied by winds year round yachting is a big pastime in Durban. Some residents have their own yacht but it is also possible to charter a yacht or use one of the operators that run yacht cruises through the port of Durban out into the Indian Ocean.

    The Yacht Harbour
    Related to:
    • Water Sports
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Adventure Travel

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    Stroll down the Victoria Embankment

    by CatherineReichardt Updated May 14, 2012

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    Victoria Embankment - more commonly known by locals as 'The Esplanade' and recently renamed Margaret Mcnedi Avenue just to add extra confusion - hugs the waterside along the northern shore of the inlet to Durban Harbour, and is an interesting place for a stroll. As it's a little removed (but within easy walking distance) from both the beachfront and the CBD, it is less crowded, and when you've had enough of sea and sand, moseying along in the shade of the massive fig trees in the ribbon of parkland provides welcome respite from the heat and sun.

    The road along Victoria Embankment is lined with enormous palm trees, which make it almost a caricature of how sub tropical city waterfronts are meant to look. However, because it overlooks the working areas of the port, I would describe it as being more 'interesting' than 'beautiful', which is a good thing in my book (but maybe not to all tastes).

    If you're in the area, you can take the opportunity to admire the faded flamboyance of the da Gama clock and the statue of Dick King. There is also the Natal Maritime Museum (which I have yet to visit) and a couple of yacht clubs, and, further down, the distinctive sugar terminals, as well as a few Art Deco architectural gems.

    If you're planning to visit this area, then may I suggest incorporating a pilgrimage to the retro Roma revolving restaurant? The view from the restaurant and Gino's Bar upstairs out over the city and port are unsurpassed, and the food is also surprisingly good: given the choice, the best time would probably be late afternoon so that you can watch the sun set and the emergence of the twinkling lights of the city and port.

    Apologies for the quality of this photo which doesn't do it justice, but this was taken with my cellphone on a day when I forgot my camera ...

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    Moses Mabhida Stadium

    by MikeAtSea Written Dec 10, 2009

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    This is Durban's newest attraction built for the Soccer World Cup 2010 in Durban - the Moses Mabhida Stadium. It will be one of the host stadiums for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The stadium has a planned capacity of 70,000 during the World Cup and 54,000 afterwards. The stadium is adjacent to the ABSA Stadium. Somwhat reminiscent of the famous Wembley Stadium arch, a 350m long free and 105m high span arch will hold up the roof of the stadium, the top of the arch will rise to 106 m above the pitch.
    Around the perimeter, 1750 columns and 216 raking beams will provide the main support. Around the field, 900 m of retaining walls will stretch 8 m high. A total of 1780 pre-cast concrete seating panels will create the bowl form. There are be over 80000 square metres of floor space within the stadium. The games that will be played in the Durban Stadium are:
    June 13 2010: Germany vs Australia
    June 16 2010: Spain vs Switzerland
    June 19 2010: Netherlands vs Japan
    June 22 2010: Nigeria vs Korea Republic
    June 25 2010: Brazil vs Portugal
    June 28 2010: Winner Group E vs Runners-up Group F
    July 07 2010: Semi-final

    Moses Mabhida Stadium Moses Mabhida Stadium
    Related to:
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    • Photography
    • Festivals

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Comments (1)

  • Nov 8, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    "Here in the colonies"? South Africa has been independent for 53 years and a democracy for 20. Please refrain from calling us a colony.

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