South Africa has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and this is confirmed by a number of Blue Flag Awards.
The Blue Flag is an exclusive eco-label awarded to more than 3000 beaches and marinas in 33 countries across Europe, South Africa, Canada and the Caribbean. The award of a Blue Flag beach is based on compliance with 29 criteria covering the aspects of environmental education and information, water quality and environmental management. Blue Flags are only awarded for a season and if the beach fails to comply with the expected criteria status will be removed!
Durban’s beaches are a cultural experience where you will find a truly representative cross-section of South Africa’s population. Young to old, you can find from bikini-clad teenagers and suntanned surfers strutting their stuff to chic sari-clad matrons herding their broods and beaded sangomas (traditional Zulu healer and respected healer/practitioner of herbal medicine) collecting sea water for medicinal use. Even outdoor baptisms are not unusual. The water is warm and this is where the epitome of organised beach frivolity is found. But whatever beach experience you choose, be it sardine-style and social, or solitary and silent, precautions must be taken. Things such as sunscreen and a hat are very important as the South African sun is a real scorcher. Also be aware of your own limit in all things, such as far, long or well you can swim. Take note of where the lifeguards are and swim only where they are on watch. Remember it is illegal to drink on South African beaches. You may find bars on the beaches where you can enjoy delightful cocktail sundowners, but taking your own alcohol onto the beach may have negative consequences.
Durban’s (south coast) Blue Flag beaches include:
Ramsgate beach, located in Hibiscus Coast is a one-of-a-kind experience. It has been transformed into a park-like area with all the natural vegetation surrounding it. The wide and sandy beach is based at the end of an estuary and restaurants are local in the adjacent area. This beach also offers year round swimming with warm waters, sub-tropical climate and lifeguards always on the lookout.
South beach, located in eThekwini Municipality is yet another typical KwaZulu-Natal sandy beach with ideal for swimming and surfing. Part of Durban’s world famous “Golden Mile”, this beach lies at the heart of the Durban beachfront and is perfect for kids as it is protected from the powerful westerly winds and large waves by the Bluff.
Hibberdene beach is a relatively narrow beach also sheltered from the southerly winds. Good waves can be found at this often steeply sloped beach. It is also ideal for families as there is a grasp picnic area available, as well as a new boat launching site which has just been developed alongside the Blue Flag area.
Lucien beach lies to the north east of Margate main beach and is a quiet yet popular beach accessible by a steep set of chairs. Lifesaving facilities are top class and facilities can be found at the new building with lots of parking, which provides good views of the sea and coast stretching towards Margate as it is elevated. A good place to park and then walk along the coast towards Uvongo – another beach which received pilot Blue Flag status for 2005.
Margate beach is a mile long beach ideal for swimming, bodyboarding and surfing. There is also a famous fishing spot off a specially constructed pier. A popular beach as Margate is a popular, vibrant holiday town.
Marina/San Lameer is a beautiful, long sandy beach with an adjacent tidal pool. Located between Southbroom and San Lameer and close to the Trafalgar Marine Reserve and Mpenjati river mouth and lagoon. Lifeguards are on duty at all times and you will find that facilities are top class, with accessibility for the disabled.