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Dig out your bucket and spade, the much-loved KwaZulu-Natal South Coast is still a haven for holidaying families. Here are five of Kate Ferreira’s favourite family-friendly South Coast accommodation spots.

Selborne Hotel, South Coast, South Coast Accommodation

Selborne Hotel. Photo by Tyson Jopson

1. Selborne Hotel

Grand golf estate

The setting
Charmingly old-school establishment on the first golf estate in South Africa, 1,5 km outside the sleepy seaside town of Pennington or roughly 90 minutes’ drive from King Shaka airport.

The vibe
A converted residence built in 1946, with the garden rooms added later. The glamour is worn in areas – like the older lady she is – but the ambience is genteel, with chilled facecloths and drinks on arrival, a grand piano and lux upholstery.

The crowd
Golfing groups and families as well as ‘swallows’ – wealthy Europeans who soak up summer in South Africa when home gets too cold.

The rooms
Forty-nine en-suite rooms with double or twin beds, plus four family inter-leading units, each with a patio, balcony or outside seating, cherryfinish wood, ornate sconces or lamps and brocade curtains. Try to book a room with a view of the golf course.

The food
A formal dining room is open to hotel guests and ‘pop-ins’. Linen napkins, complimentary Sherry and fresh flowers set the tone. For a more relaxed vibe, grab a table on the terrace.

Highlights
Guests get a special rate on nine or 18 holes, and the large pool, tennis court and kids’ room should keep children busy. The hotel has a guests-only clubhouse at the kid-friendly main beach (about 2,5 km away).

Need to know
It’s best to drive to the beach or take the hotel shuttle because even though the road into Pennington is short, it is busy and often there’s no verge to speak of.

Contact
Tel 039 688 1800, www.selborne.com.

Oribi Gorge Hotel, South Coast, South Coast Accommodation

Oribi Gorge Hotel. Photo by Tyson Jopson

 

2. Oribi Gorge Hotel

Budget adventuring

The setting
Just 30 minutes inland from Port Shepstone, off the N2 to Harding, with direct access to the magnificent 24 km gorge, which boasts a 150 m waterfall and the world’s highest gorge swing.

The vibe
Common areas take a hunting lodge approach to decor – wrought iron and heavy wood which is a bit dated – but thankfully no taxidermy. The rooms are much softer; think neutrals, pastels and pine.

The crowd
Local and international adrenaline junkies and active families. In peak season, day visitors flow through the cafe’ nestled under an old wild fig tree.

The rooms
Eighteen rooms can be made into king- or twinbed setups, including four family rooms. There’s ample cupboard space and big windows with garden views of visiting birds. Rooms are comfy but basic, fitting for a spot that is all about the outdoors.

The food
Breakfast is rustic and delicious. The homemade beef pie (on the pub lunch menu) is delish and big enough to share. Hotel guests in the main restaurant can order off the pub grub or a` la carte menus for dinner.

Highlights
It’s nirvana for twitchers with 350 bird species, plus there are plenty of wilder pursuits including gorge swinging or a day of white-water rafting.

Need to know
Access is by dirt road, but you don’t need a 4×4 to negotiate it – just take it easy, especially after heavy rains.

Contact
Tel 039 687 0253, www.oribigorge.co.za.

Estuary Hotel and Spa, South Coast, South Coast Accommodation

Estuary Hotel and Spa. Photo by Tyson Jopson

 

3. Estuary Hotel and Spa

Glam for the fam

The setting
A family-owned-and-run, three-star hotel, just outside Port Edward (150 km down the coast from central Durban) on a private estate with unequalled views of the Sandundlu Estuary and sea.

The vibe
The 1941 Baker-style Cape Dutch hotel building would fit right in in the Winelands, but here it has the benefit of the warm Indian Ocean on its doorstep. This sunny spot invites you to slow down, recline somewhere and consider the view.

The crowd
South African holidaymakers laze around the pool or read in the lounge, mingling with estate residents who stop in for dinner or a quick dip.

The rooms
Most of the 44 rooms have two double beds, perfect for small families. Pick your view: beach, estuary or lagoon. Splurge a little on a room in the recently revamped sea-view block with dark wood dressers and cool fabrics.

The food
The dinner menu is a` la carte and wide-ranging. Fresh locally caught fish is often on offer and superbly prepared. The Mississippi mud pie is a decadent end to the night’s meal.

Highlights
It has a brand-new spa and kids’ playroom, including a small nursery for the littlest guests.

Need to know
Although you can see the beach from the hotel, to access it you have to take a short pleasant walk through the estate.

Contact
Tel 039 311 3474, www.estuaryhotel.co.za.

La Cote d'Azur, South Coast, South Coast Accommodation

La Cote d’Azur. Photo by Tyson Jopson

 

4. La Cote D’Azur

Sunny self-catering

The setting
A timeshare and self-catering rentals complex overlooking the northern end of Blue Flag Lucien Beach in Margate, one of SA’s most enduring and popular holiday spots.

The vibe
The parking area and passages feel like a very standard block of flats, but the apartments are bright and spacious. Guests congregate on cushioned loungers poolside when feeling sociable. There are daily games and socials too.

The crowd
A mixed bunch of retirees and young families, primarily from Gauteng and KZN, plus a few international timeshare owners.

The rooms
The 58 two- and three-bedroom apartments are big and comfortably furnished with holidaying families in mind. Kitchens are fairly small, but useable with all the necessary mod cons including spacious fridges. There’s a built-in braai for every unit.

The food
Order an affordable light meal (simple burgers and toasted sarmies) from the on-site coffee shop if you don’t feel like cooking or walk down Margate’s main drag for Spur, Steers or any number of independent restaurants.

Highlights
To maximise the holiday chill factor, the units are serviced daily by cleaning staff. Hotel–like amenities – including on–site beauty and spa treatments and 24–hour reception – plus the units’ privacy mean this is really a best–of– both–worlds resort. Unpack, relax. Lekker.

Need to know
Air-con in the units is run on a pre-paid basis. You can also hire cot beds, but the maximumsleeper numbers includes kids of all ages.

Contact
Tel 039 312 1521, www.lacotedazurresort.co.za.

Pumula Beach Hotel, South Coast, South Coast Accommodation

Pumula Beach Hotel. Photo by Tyson Jopson

 

5. Pumula Beach Hotel

Inclusive resort

The setting
Perched on a hill, overlooking Umzumbe Beach, this resort is a family favourite about 100 km south of Durban.

The vibe
White, blue and classic beach-chic decor dominates. The hotel is comfy without pretence, inviting you to sit down in the reading room, lounge or at an outdoor table for lunch.

The crowd
In season, South African families flock here for their holidays, including many return guests who book their next visit as they leave.

The rooms
Sixty-two double and twin rooms, including a few family rooms – either open plan or interleading. Upstairs rooms with balconies have fantastic sea views, even if the balconies aren’t totally private.

The food
There’s a set menu for dinners and a buffet lunch. The oxtail stew is rich and delicious – if it pops up on the menu, don’t skip it!

Highlights
Kids are VIPs here. There’s a playroom with air hockey and table tennis, outdoor mini-golf and a tree house. In peak season, there are kids’ movies and supervised group activities. The children’s dining room (with earlier meal times) means your kids can eat with their new friends.

Need to know
There are no mini-bar fridges in the rooms and room service is for drinks only, so if you’re feeling peckish before dinner, don’t miss Chef’s Eats – tea and nibbles such as cake or scones – around 4 pm.

Contact
Tel 039 684 6717, www.pumulabeachhotel.com.

South Coast travelling tip:

Get off the N2 and take the scenic route between towns (and skip some of the tolls) with a meander down the R102. The South Coast offers affordable accommodation and action for all ages and is home to five of KwaZulu-Natal’s six Blue Flag beaches, a smattering of tiny beachside towns and lots of padstals and privately run eco or tourist businesses such as nurseries, butterfly parks and croc farms along the way. www. tourismsouthcoast.co.za




  • Tim

    I am glad you mentioned Port Edward. Easily the most central to everything you want to do when looking for holiday accommodation on the South Coast. The best of all is that it is a place where you can relax and not be disturbed by all the over-commercial holiday places.

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