With Durban’s excellent weather and seaside location, it’s no wonder families flock there year round. And while the city is popular for business and leisure travelers alike, it’s also a great place to bring the family. Here are our picks for the best things to do with the family in Durban.
Have a snorkeling adventure
Durban and surrounds are some of the best spots for snorkeling in Southern Africa, offering numerous underwater places to check out. One of the best places to go is Aliwoal Shoal, just a short drive south of the city. The shoal is made up of a variety of sponges and corals where tropical fish love to gather. Other popular places in the area include Dolphin Reef, Limestone Reef, Vetch’s Pier and the Cooperlight Wreck. And if you want something slightly less adventurous, you can go snorkeling at the uShaka Snorkel Lagoon at uShaka Marine World, the next place on our list. For booking and more information on snorkeling in Durban, visit the websites of Calypso Dive Centre and Umhlanga Scuba.
Take a trip to uShaka Marine World
A family trip to Durban isn’t complete without stopping for a visit at uShaka Marine World. This aquarium built inside an old cargo shipwreck is the fifth largest in the world. Like most aquariums of its size, there are thousands of creatures to check out and learn about. After looking through the glass at the colorful fish, head outside and get splashed at one of the daily dolphin shows. And while most children will like the aquarium, they’ll absolutely love the Wet ‘n Wild amusement park — full of water slides and other entertainment. For younger children, there is a great play area with scheduled activities throughout the day. For current prices, see the uShaka Marine World website.
See animals at Mitchell Park Zoo
Located in the serene suburb of Morningside, Mitchell Park Zoo is a charming and scenic place to spend a day with kids. The zoo was originally started as an ostrich farm, but later expanded to include numerous animals, including an old tortoise that has been at the park since 1915. Other species at the zoo include flamingos, crocodiles, raccoons, monkeys and peacocks. There is also a small park on the premises designed especially for small children, including swings, slides and jungle gyms. The Blue Zoo restaurant is the oldest in Durban, but if you don’t feel like dining in, there are several braai areas and picnic lawns, too.
Hit the beach
The year-round sunny climate is one of the prime reasons why vacationers head to Durban. And there’s no better place to enjoy it than by spending a day at the city’s numerous beaches. Families can enjoy the holiday vibe by staying in any one of the numerous resorts lining Umhlanga Rocks beach. Aspiring surfers will want to check out Addington Bay, offering low waves where kids can learn the ropes. And if you’re kids are more experienced, the Bay of Plenty and Dairy offer some of the best breaks around. However, most people will be perfectly fine just working on their tan and swimming among the waves. And don’t worry, most of the beaches in the area have shark nets and plenty of lifeguards on duty.
Hang out at Phezulu Safari Park
While it isn’t in Durban proper, Phezulu Safari Park is just 35km out of the city and is a wonderful place to spend the day with your family. While there, you can see loads of crocodiles and snakes (including a 90-year-old python) at a special section, or enjoy an immersive Zulu cultural experience. Families can learn about the Zulu culture by visiting the onsite thatch huts and stick around to see a lively show of traditional dancing. You can also stop by a craft making section to see tribesmen create colorful battle shields. And before you go, don’t forget to stop by the curio shop, where you can pick up hand made Zulu items like pottery, beadwork, and carvings.
Relax at Durban Botanical Gardens
After a long weekend of fun, spend the day leisurely strolling around at the gorgeous Durban Botanical Gardens. Kids will love wandering through the lush and seemingly endless gardens while literally stopping to smell the roses. The charming gardens were founded in 1849 and were originally used for commercial crops, before blossoming into a much larger venue. It’s also home to one of the rarest plants in the world, the Encephalartos woodii, one of the park’s original specimens. Families can enjoy high tea and scones at the charity tea garden, or plan ahead and book a guided tour, where you’ll follow along with an expert to learn about all the interesting plants. And it’s not only plants that you’ll find inside this oasis in the city, there are also numerous butterflies, frogs and birds — so be sure to bring your camera and binoculars!
This article was originally published on July 14, 2015.