10 FREE family fun activities on the KZN South Coast

by | Feb 1, 2021

The South Coast is beloved by families for our 58 swimming beaches (five with Blue Flag status), but not everyone knows that there is so much more to this gorgeous strip of coastline than surf and sea.

Lagoons, waterfalls, forests, rivers, dams and nature reserves abound on this strip of coastline between Scottburgh and Port Edward, and the warm, sub-tropical climate means that visitors can enjoy outdoor activities all year round.

Hopefully, by the time you read this, our beaches will be open again, but if not, here are 10 MORE reasons to visit the KZN South Coast… and the bonus is that they can all be enjoyed for free!

  1. Whale viewing decks.
  2. Watch women catch fish with their skirts in the annual sardine run.
  3. Fishing is a permitted lockdown activity (with a license from the Post Office).
  4. Ramsgate Marine Ramble.
  5. Birdwatching on the lagoon and river banks.
  6. Resonant Circle Ramsgate.
  7. Pistols Saloon Wild West Museum.
  8. Natalie’s Shells.
  9. Uvongo Flea market.
  10. Margate Art Museum.

 

 

1. Whale viewing decks

From June to December every year, over 30 000 Humpback and Southern Right whales take part in an annual migration that brings them close to the coastline, entertaining us humans as they rear out of the water and spray fountains of water into the air. There are four whale viewing decks where you can watch their antics: Pennington, Umtentweni, Ramsgate and Southbroom, and when whale season is over, cavorting dolphins can be seen long after the whales have moved on…

2. Watch women catch fish with their skirts in the annual sardine run

If the sardine run is bountiful, it really is the #GreatestShoalonEarth, and locals and visiting anglers flock to the beaches to wade in the shallow waters to skim silver shoals of sardines with nets, buckets and even skirts! This spectacle is the largest biomass migration on earth and worth a winter visit to the South Coast to see the feeding frenzy as the sardines attract bigger fish, sea birds, and sharks!

3. Fishing is a permitted lockdown activity (with a licence from the Post Office)

One way to sink your toes into the sand is to get a fishing permit, and this strip of coastline offers more than 100kms of beach to enjoy the sunrise or sunset as you cast your line and wait for the bite. Pack a picnic and enjoy the peace and solitude if the beaches are still out of bounds to walkers and swimmers when you get here. The Uvongo and Margate piers are famously popular spots to cast a line too.

4. Ramsgate Marine Ramble

Photo courtesy Sasha Wyatt-Minter

There’s so much activity taking place in the intertidal zone, and this 5km easy walk from Ramsgate to the Southbroom lagoon is a great way to explore and experience the coastal flora and birds of the area. The route is teeming with beautiful butterflies at the moment too.

5. Birdwatching on the lagoon and river banks

Photo courtesy Sasha Wyatt-Minter

If you’re new to birdwatching, borrow a birding book and teach yourself (or your children) to identify some of the bird species you can spot among the river reeds or soaring over the many lagoons. Here you can spot hawks, fish eagles, flycatchers and even a rare Cape vulture.

6. Resonant Circle Ramsgate

Photo courtesy Sasha Wyatt-Minter

Children (and adults) love to stand in the resonant circle next to the Ramsgate lagoon and shout their name to see what happens…

Park at the Ramsgate Beach parking area and join the path past the Blue Lagoon Restaurant to Tanglewood Forest, a preserved piece of the original sub-tropical forest filled with twisted trees, a wooden door to thrill imaginative little ones, seating areas to enjoy the view, and the resonant circle. Stand in the centre of the circle, facing south west, (the sign will guide you), say your name, and experience the echo in your ears. (Don’t leave the area without a visit to the legendary Waffle House – it’s not a free activity on this list but no visit to Ramsgate is complete without a waffle!)

7. Pistols Saloon Wild West Museum

Photo courtesy Sasha Wyatt-Minter

If you carry on through the little village of Ramsgate, you’ll soon come to Pistols Saloon, worth a visit even if alcohol is still under lockdown. This is where Huckleberry the donkey drinks Coke from the can at the bar, and the Wild West Museum next door is crammed with cowboy memorabilia. It’s a real family pub: you’re fined R2 for every bad word if you’re caught swearing!

8. Natalie’s Shells

Photo courtesy Sasha Wyatt-Minter

Established in 1950 (and still owned by the same family), this South Coast landmark has been delighting visitors to the area for generations. Situated on Marine Drive, on the border of Margate and Ramsgate, their shell display is unrivalled, and the owner’s fascinating facts about the collection makes a visit to Natalie’s an experience not to be missed. Fall in love with unique jewellery made from shells and silver – the perfect gift for someone special.

9. Uvongo Flea Market

If you need a shopping fix but want to avoid the malls, visit the Uvongo Rotary Fleamarket, a 30-year-old institution in the area. Focusing on handmade arts and crafts, it’s open on Saturday and Sunday mornings throughout the year, and is a fabulous place to do your Christmas shopping in December.

10. Margate Art Museum

Photo courtesy Sasha Wyatt-Minter

The largest art museum in KwaZulu-Natal, works on display reflect the culture and artistic range of the region. There is a school corner featuring works created by learners from surrounding schools. Touring art and craft exhibitions are regularly hosted, but it also has an extensive collection of local arts and crafts. Entrance is free and the museum is open from 08:30 to 16:00 from Tuesday to Friday and from 08:30 to 14:00 on Saturdays

Address: Dan Pienaar Ave, Margate. Phone: 039 312 8392 to check if they are hosting an exhibit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Sasha Wyatt-Minter

Sasha is a freelance journalist and has a passion for writing, reading, good food and wine. She’s obsessed with the IDEA of healthy eating (as well as chocolate – dark of course) and is always experimenting with alternative health therapies and trying to get the family to eat less sugar. Her best reward at the end of a busy week: a good book or time to sit on the beach and stare at the sea: whichever option is available.

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