Durban Beach – Sand, Surfers, Sea, Sharks & Elephants?

Durban beach front – the Golden Mile

Sand, sand, sea, surfer, sand, surfer, sun, sea, sand, surfers, surfers …. and sharks?
Known as the Golden Mile, Durban beach front stretches for what seems like miles of golden sands with experienced lifeguards, in front of a vibrant esplanade of hotels, restaurants and market traders.

Firstly, the water is warm – really warm! Result! Secondly the waves are superb! Double result! And we spent many days along the seafront either in the water, on the beach or sitting in our favourite café or restaurant, watching the waves and the many surfers.


So what can you do there?

We were mainly on Addington beach, South Beach and UShaka beach. It is a hub of activity with cyclists, runners, joggers, skaters, of all ages and a mix of nationalities.

We had surfing lessons from the fabulous Xpressions Durban, who come highly recommended. Garry and Josh were amazing instructors. Josh is one of the premier South African swimmers and we hope to see him in the next Olympics.

josh Tim Xpressions surf durban beach

Josh is an excellent and knowledgeable instructor

Due to the exchange rate of £ or $ to South African Rand everything was so very affordable. Surfing lessons for example are about £14.50 / $21.00 an hour (depending on exchange rate at the time) for private 1 to 1. Plus they do a buy 4 get the 5th free. Where else can you get that?

Just downstairs from Xpressions is our favourite place for coffee, Surf Riders Café, where you can sit and watch the world go by.



Then there is UShaka. It’s like being 6 years old again. Water slides, tube rides and our favourite – the lazy river. Float down this man-made river for 10 mins on a tube passing rocks, trees and huge windows onto various tanks housing anything from penguins to sharks all whilst enjoying the 20-30 degree Durban beach front heat. Bliss!


Big durban kid at ushaka beach front

It’s all about being a kid again


ushaka mamba ride in durban at addington beach

Awesome rides at UShaka

The Elephants

Now let’s address the elephant … I mean the shark … in the room! Are you going to meet one while swimming or surfing on Durban beach? Well, statistics say that you’re more likely to get struck by lightning, killed by a falling coconut or fall off a cliff whilst taking a selfie than to get attacked by a shark. The real fact is that shark attacks are exceptionally rare and because of their rarity they hit the headlines when they do occur, which makes them seem more commonplace than they really are.


Now, that’s not to say that we didn’t look out for fins whilst on our surfing lessons. The film ‘Jaws’ and subsequent movies, have done a lot of damage to the reputation of these beautiful animals although the work of conservationists, especially someone we know (Dan aka Sharkman Dan instagram: @Sharkman_Dan) has helped abate that fear.


The real threat to watch out for are from muggers. In Durban 99.9% of the people are lovely. However, there is a small criminal element who like to take advantage, so just be careful and watch your stuff. As one of our surf coaches told us, they’re often very well dressed and look very respectable. So, don’t walk about with expensive equipment, keep your purses and wallets well-hidden and never leave valuables on the beach.


Enough of the bad … back to the exceptionally amazing.

For an amazing sundowners drink or coffee try Moyo – this is a restaurant on the very end of the pier (in the photo below in the distance) with spectacular views of the entire Durban sea front. The pic below is at Piatto.

piato durban pan beach front

A really cool restaurant with very good food, and with stunning views of the ocean.


So what is the link with Durban beach and photography?

Well it’s the camera. We use a Nikon underwater camera but this is our 3rd underwater camera. The first was a Fujifilm XP that stopped working 2 days into our Egypt Red Sea trip (spectacularly annoying as we’d gone there for the snorkeling). Our second was a Canon Powershot D10 . That worked for a year or 2 but stopped working on our second trip to the Red Sea. Spectacularly annoying doesn’t even come close!

We bought the Nikon second hand on Ebay as we weren’t sure how long it would last but it’s been amazing so far.

Nikon AW100 underwater camea

We just throw it in our bag and it gets really beaten up and keeps working. You are not going to create amazing landscapes with it but for fun images it can’t be beaten. Most of the images on this page were taken with it.

Whatever underwater camera you buy, do make sure it has some form of manual override or exposure compensation, otherwise you might end up with the exposure problems we mentioned in our “Why your camera lies to you” blog post.

To fit in you need 3 things. A tan (or in Ally’s case, a few million freckles), to call the city “Durbs”, and a very laid back approach to life.

How can you not love it!

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