Let’s go camping – the best campsites on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast
It’s virtually that time of the year again, when a beach holiday for the family looms on the horizon and visions of just how one is going to wiggle one’s way into one’s swim attire with a fair amount of grace occupies one’s thoughts, if only for a moment. The rest of the time is taken up with trying to find the right campsite whilst dithering about how best to fit the entire house and the kitchen sink into the boot of the car!
The KwaZulu-Natal coastline is the most obvious choice when it comes to endless summer and warm waters. Along this strip of coastline between Port Edward and Durban is an uninterrupted playground of golden beaches, rocky coves, lagoon mouths, grassy slopes and, of course, the warm Indian Ocean that invites hours of water play …
The KwaZulu Natal South Coast conjures up a humid, perpetually warm landscape of rolling green hills swept with sugarcane, hibiscus, bougainvillea and the songs of birds. There is the inevitable highrise development to contend with too, but if you select your campsite carefully there is no reason why a complete escape cannot be secured and a break spent idly swimming, braaing, diving and rock pool rummaging cannot be yours for the taking.
Don’t forget the fishing rods, mini golf sticks (the portion of the coast between Illovo and Port Edward is wall-to-wall golf courses), snorkels, boogy boards and goggles.
The following list attempts to veer away from the ‘sardine tin’ experience, although this is difficult to do with any assurance during peak holiday season:
Villa Spa, Illovo
This is one of few campsites that offers an intimate experience with a little bit of luxury thrown in (there’s a heated pool in winter with a sauna and spa bath). The campsite is set in 10 acres of beautiful, shady garden just two minutes across the railway line from Illovo Beach. Large, lawned and shady sites are available for caravans, campervans, motorhomes and tents. They also have log chalets set in amongst the trees for those who don’t want to do the camping thing. Daily camping rates between R80 – R160 for adults, and children R50 – R120.
Contact: Gail & Anthony on telephone +27 (0)31 916-4939
Ellingham Resorts – Rocky Bay, Park Rynie
The resort, just down the coast from the very popular Scottburgh, is a combination of rustic log cabins, a caravan park and conference centre in one of the most gorgeous locations along the coast. Here you are privy to some of the best sea views possible, all without any sign of development – things here are still virtually ‘wild’. The park has over 160 bush enshrouded or beach facing sites to choose from, the ablutions are first rate and there are children’s areas that include a playpark, splash pool and fresh water swimming pool. Booking is essential in high season. Daily camping rates between R85 – R127, children R42 – R70.
Contact: Ellingham Resorts on telephone +27 (0)39 976-0336
MacNicol’s Bazley Beach Resort
MacNicol’s won countrywide winner in the camping and caravan resort category of the AA hospitality Awards 2008, and you can understand why. As you arrive you are met with a cup of tea, and you get help pitching the tent! Set right on the Ifafa lagoon, this sprawling campsite has a host of large, shady sites and feels almost like a nature reserve – there are over 140 bird species that you can spot here, including the fish eagle, and you’re only 100 metres from the coastline where Bazley beach offers miles of unspoilt beach. You also have access to the private beach of Ndesingaan where the conditions are safe for swimming. The lagoon too provides hours of water fun, including canoeing, paddling and wind surfing. Daily camping rates between R90 – R180 and children R45 – R95.
Contact: June McNicol on telephone +27 039 977 8863
Marlon Holiday Resort, Sunwich Port
This is a great, shady campsite set in amongst the trees with good protection from the wind, between Hibberdene and Port Shepstone. Marlon Holiday Resort, which also offers cottages, log cabins and Plettenburg homes, lies in a sheltered valley on the banks of the Damba River, which flows into the sea on an exceptionally pretty beach, just 700 metres from the resort. Swimming in the tidal pool is safe, whilst there are also other recreational facilities that include a children’s playground, swimming pool, trampoline etc. You’re assured of peace, quiet and relaxation. Daily camping rates R250 – R450 per site per night for up to 4 people sharing.
Contact: Charmaine Duffield on telephone +27 (0)39 681-3596
Umtentweni Caravan Resort
If you’re into small and intimate, then this is the resort in Umtentweni for you, particularly if you have younger children (the bigger resorts are great for teens). This quiet and pretty campsite has been chosen by a reader survey as one of the top resorts in the country for the past ten years and it’s easy to see why. Rolling lawns wend their way right down to the Mtentweni lagoon, with modern ablution facilities and the usual jungle gym, trmpoline, swimming pool and boating on the river, it’s fun for all. Daily camping rates between R70 – R115 for adults, R40 – R75 for children.
Contact: Tobie and Anita Mayer on telephone +27 (0)39 695-0531
Port o’ Call Caravan Park
A little piece of paradise. Port o’ Call lies adjacent to the Trafalgar Marine Reserve spilling out onto five kilometres of goregeous ‘wild’ beach. Lying midway between Margate and Port Edward, not only is the beach a safe swimming beach but there is excellent snorkelling on a reef that boast 90-million-year-old fossil beds. Spend your days under milkwood, umdoni, wild fig, coral trees and ilala palms whilst listening to the crashing waves. Kids get a swimming and paddling pool, and there are spotless ablutions. If you’re into secluded seaside holidays away from it all, this is it. Daily camping rates between R100 – R180 for adults, RR50 – R90 for children.
Contact: Port o’Call Caravan Park on telephone +27 (0)39 313-0511
Old Pont Holiday Resort
Another awesome setting on the banks of the Mtamvuna River, hence an ideal spot if you’re into watersports. Not your spot if you’re not into a bit of noise and a lot of fun, for it can get kind of vibey when it gets busy. 100 grassed, shady campsites are available, and whilst the beaches are only accessible by river, you can drive a short distance to the Port Edward main beach for safe swimming, super tube rides and a little more bustle. Take a boat and head upstream, you won’t be sorry. Daily camping rates R240 – R340 for 4 people.
Contact: Old Pont Holiday Resort on telephone +27 (0)39 311-2211
Note about Rates:
Please note that rates were correct at time of publishing.
Please contact the resorts directly for up-to-date rates before booking.
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