The heart of the Dolphin Coast is Ballito, which sits perched between the green rolling hills inland and the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean. Isimangaliso Wetland Park is located some 275 kilometres north of Durban and is a World Heritage Site that consists of rare swamp forest, wetlands, the largest estuary in Africa, St Lucia, and some of the highest coastal vegetated dunes in the world – a true natural haven to explore. With a terrific variety of flora and fauna across its five ecosystems, it was Nelson Mandela who also stated that iSimangaliso “must be the only place on the globe where the oldest land mammal (the rhino) and the world’s biggest terrestrial mammal (the elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (the coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammal (the whale)”. It is this range of diversity that makes this part of South Africa so appealing, whilst being away from the most popular and trodden routes.
There are whales in the region that may be spotted – some of the dune forests have excellent whale and dolphin viewing platforms so that you can attempt to spot these marine creatures from the shore – and snorkelling the warm Indian Ocean waters is great, when the tide allows.
The ocean is also one of the main draws of this region, and activities can range from boating, angling, surfing and diving.