Durban and surrounding areas have hundreds of townships, suburban neighborhoods, and beaches. The population is about 3.5 million. I joined a city tour of notable attractions, but it was difficult taking quality photos in the moving vehicle.
Central Durban has interesting museums, monuments, markets, galleries, and theaters. Political and historical sites provide detail about Zulu ancestry and the apartheid era. A favorite building, City Hall is a magnificent Edwardian neo-baroque structure!
“The most prominent part of Durban is called The Golden Mile, a stretch of beach where sunbathers, surfers, and bodybuilders gather.”
Beaches, Beaches, Beaches…
- Addington – surfing
- Durban Kite – kitesurfing
- EThekwini Blue Flag – secluded
- Laguna – jet-skiing
- Blue Lagoon near Umgeni River – fishing
These beaches are popular surfing, bodyboarding, and kitesurfing locations near the bluff overlooking Durban Harbor:
Neighborhoods, Townships, Streetart
The Durban City Tour began at the beach along The Golden Mile and proceeded through some major Durban areas:
- North and North Central – Umhlanga, Durban North
- Outer and Inner West – Bothas Hill, Assagay, Hillcrest
- South and South Central – Amanzimtoti
Some of Durban’s most popular “places to be” include those described below.
Station Drive Precinct
Station Drive – once a “no go” neighborhood near Durban city centre – was transformed into a “hip” area where “light industrial meets residential”.
There are craft breweries, restaurants, and clothing designers. Morning Trade Market is held every Sunday. Station Drive Precinct “collaborative-style work spaces” are popular. The Foundry includes a renovated clothing factory which is “a creative hub with workshops, studios, and offices”.
Riverton, an “inner-city revival project, reignited neglected spaces in Durban central business district”. Formerly a warehouse, innovative 8 Morrison Street offers flexible “office pod” workspaces. It’s a creative hub for startups, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, and photographers. The district hosts a food and craft market every month. Rivertown Shed and Beerhall is a popular venue for conferences, openings, bands, and creative competitions.
Morningside is one of my favorite neighborhoods. It’s near the beaches and known for “hip” Florida Road. This leafy street has impeccably restored Victorian and Edwardian buildings, and a variety of restaurants, pubs, coffee houses, art galleries, and shops.
Morningside is home to Burman Bush Nature Reserve and The African Art Centre. Burman Bush is 136 acres of indigenous forest along the Umgeni River. It’s a great place to explore local flora and fauna. La Lucia and Beachwood Mangroves Reserve, a nature reserve near the Umgeni River, has an excellent hiking trail. Virginia Bush Nature Reserve and Giba Gorge are also on my list.
“Since the 2010 World Cup, areas in and around Durban central have undergone significant urban regeneration.”
North Beach is a popular area with “its own atmosphere, including the smells of chicken tikka cooking at Pakistani restaurants, sea salt, and pineapples from vendors along the ocean”. There are shops and restaurants, a skate park, and a seaside promenade between UShaka Marine World and Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Umhlanga Rocks is an “upmarket” part of Durban. The holiday village has pricey hotels, a beach promenade, lighthouse, and a mix of Durban’s best restaurants.
Townships are the “cultural soul” of South Africa. Durban’s largest townships include Umlazi, Inanda, and KwaMashu. KwaMashu is known for its soccer team and lively performing arts scene – Maskandi, pantsula dancing, hip hop, drama. KwaMashu township has its own community radio station and eKhaya Multi Arts Centre for Arts and Performance.
Inanda is known for its Heritage Trail and being the home of:
- John Langalibalele Dube’s Ohlange Institute – first African National Congress (ANC) president
- Phoenix Settlement – a base for Mahatma Gandhi’s operations
- Syncretic Nazareth Baptist Church
- Inanda Seminary School – one of South Africa’s oldest girls’ schools
- Nelson Mandela cast his vote for South Africa’s first democratic election in Inanda in 1994.
I’m leaving Durban December 1 for Seychelles Mahé Island, but will be back again in January 2018. Although I’ve spent almost a month in Durban, it seems I’ve barely scratched the surface. There’s much more to learn about the area. It takes time to understand a new place – at least it does for me. The tropical climate and weather have been volatile but never boring – steaming hot one day, cool and stormy with wild skies, thunder and lightning the next. I’ll have refined my Durban “must see” list when I return in January, and am looking forward to more exploration then. During December, I plan to become a Seychelles beach bum!