Over the years, I’ve written countless blog posts on cool Durban spots but still find myself compiling a messy list of links and websites every time someone new asks me “So, what’s there to do ’round here?”.
Vintager My Scattered Heart, recently added a high-fashion swimwear range to her label.
I finally got to meet the face behind the brand AND got my hands on a dreamy one-piece.
As it happens, I have had a few people asking me what do to over the holidays as they introduce friends/family/partners to their beloved home city. It’s a difficult thing – showing someone the place you grew up in and trying to get them to fall in love with it that same way you have.How do you take the essence of a place and get another person to understand it when they only have a few days with you – whether they’ve traveled from abroad or even just from the other side of the country?
While there are no doubt many impressive places in the 031, here’s some of my first choices that I took a certain individual to for “Durban’s Best Date Ever."
We kicked off the morning at Bike and Bean along the beachfront. The promenade is best in the earlier hours of the morning – there’s just the right balance of still, ocean tranquility and the day bursting into life with surfers, joggers and skaters on the go.
After we felt sufficiently caffeinated, we headed to Warwick Junction for a guided tour through the 9 markets. Warwick really is the heartbeat of Durban, with over 460 000 people passing through the stalls and station daily. This kids, is Durban at its most honest and raw. (BTW FYI, I did a full post on the tour a while back – read it here.)
We also got to check out the Faith47 murals up close, which is something I’ve been dying to do since blurry snaps taken through car windows flooded my Instagram feed. These portraits represent prominent members from each of the markets and really are a sight to see, reminding us of the city’s intense history and diversity. Try to hold back those tears now folks.
Two hours of walking through the crazy bustle of a Monday morning warranted some decent chow, so I swopped out my usual lunching spots for a gem in the CBD called Little Gujarat. This tiny vegetarian restaurant pumps at lunchtime and our whole bill came to a grand total of R96. The food was ridiculously delicious and we didn’t even make a dent in all the selections of curries, sambals and rotis that we got with our two veg thalis.
The Durban Natural Sciences Museum is possibly one of my favourite places, no matter how old I get or how many times I see it. I still get stoked to meander in between the animal displays and mummy replicas and of course, checking out what art exhibitions are on rotation upstairs. And guys, it’s mahala.
My little un-airconditioned car was well over the crazy CBD traffic and relentless sun by 2pm so we headed out of the city towards Mitchell Park Zoo for an ice-cream and walk through the gardens. Most of their animals are rescues and all the grounds and enclosures are kept impressively immaculate. It’s only but R10 to get in and check out monkeys, parrots, meerkats and over-enthusiastic toddlers. And me talking to the guinea pigs like I’m Doctor Doolittle reincarnate. True story.
We had some time to kill before the final destinations so we hit up Bay of Plenty for a quick swim. Even in the Christmas chaos, our beaches shine. At about 3pm the water is perfect, the sun glints off of the Elangeni and the skaters regroup at the skate park to take advantage of the afternoon shade. You’re just waiting for Ludacris to pop out and film another music video.
Even in all its predicable cheese, the Roma Revolving is still something to show 031 newcomers (or even just individuals you are trying to woo). The view, the history, the kitschy décor that has been untouched since the 80’s – it’s all worth hitting up the bar for a whiskey to watch Durban spin as the sun sets over our harbor.
I had left dinner plans open, not knowing how we would be feeling after a day of feasting and festivities, so we chose to make the most of the exquisite summer’s evening and chowed down on Blue Dolphin’s famous pizzas.
Durban ya little show-off!
Down the south coast, past kilometers of coastal bliss and into a tropical paradise, you’ll find the hippie folk of Mantis and Moon.
This rad backpackers in Umzumbe is the most perfect getaway for Durbanites. It’s not too far from home, cost effective and makes you feel like you’ve traveled to a Thai island. No passports needed, just pack your cozzie, some mozzie spray and snacks!
There are tree houses, double rooms and teepees all scattered around the dense palm jungle. I took the boyfriend for a romantic weekend, as a birthday prezzie and we had such a jam that we’re returning with friends later this month. Not only do you meet interesting travelers at the bar, but you can also relax in the jacuzzi, dip in the pool and share the communal kitchen. The beach is only a walk away so Paul and I set up camp, brought out his guitar, had a smoke and sang silly songs until sunset.
Tips: Make sure to stop at the epic fruit stands along the drive home or venture a little further to The Waffle House.
You can also book breaki and dinner at the backpackers if you’re not keen to cart along your own foods! They make mean meals every night.
Stay in the Taj Mahal double room, if you want your own roofless en suite bathroom, where you can bath under the stars.
Last weekend the boyfriend whisked me away for a spontaneous night’s stay at the beautiful Mei Pen Lai. While at first glance it may seem we spent an opulent evening at an Asian resort, our destination was actually a lot closer to home…
Mei Pen Lai is a sweet little beach house in Umdloti, owned and managed by a travelling legend called Rory. He may greet you in a speedo, he may greet you in a straw hat and hippie pants – either way he is a special human being to cross paths with.
Beautifully asianesque and exotic with the beach on our doorstep, we really did feel like we were having a rendezvous in Thailand. Paul had a great surf, we had the best dinner of our lives at Bel Punto’s and the shops were just a walk away to grab some beers and coffee.
If you’re looking for a mini holiday that comes with sun, sea, surf and speedos then check into Mei Pen Lei for the weekend.
Click here for their Website
or call 031-5682415
A comprehensive list of things to get before I head out with the homies for the upcoming long weekend to the Transkei.
1. A dramatic beach hat to rival anyone on the beaches of France
2. Enough mosquito repellant to use for myself as well as a genius bargaining tool with my camp-mates.
3. A tanned, toned bikini body, with washboard abs. And legs that could be mistaken for hotdogs.
4. A realistic realisation that point 3 (ibid) cannot be achieved before Saturday. Especially not while drinking craft beer at the drop of a dramatic beach hat.
5. Medicine for every problem I might face out in the middle of nowhere. There are no hospitals to drive this immune system-lacking pill-popper to!
6. A book that looks challenging and impressive, to read while I try to achieve point 3 while wearing the item discussed in point 1.
7. My head around the fact that I will be ingesting mild narcotics and that I might get naked and run frantically into the wilderness as a result thereof.
8. Rescue tablets as part of said medical aid kit, so that I can relax while watching my boyfriend surf in one of the world’s most sharkiest stretches of coastline.
9. Something to braai other than mushrooms. I can’t get drunk and eat meat. Again.
10. A head to toe wax, a manicure and something tropical and classy(er) to drink like vodka and Appletizer. Out of a coconut or pineapple.
Wait whaaaa? There’s a party going down where you get to select the music for the night?!
This Saturday, DEW and DAANCE CLUB are throwing a rad little vibe. The difference? The party is pretty much user generated. What this means, my little millennials, is that ya’ll get to create the playlist for the evening – and we all know that music makes or breaks a jol.
Even better is that, nothing will be on sale. That’s right – you bring your own drinks and snacks and trade it up with fellow party-goers. Think of it as a freeconomic society that would make Mark Boyle proud. Instead of being stuck with a limited choice of warm beer and refried fast food, you get to bring and share the good shit and create the ultimate party with your friends. And those who aren’t your friends will be by the end of a dance-crazed evening!
When? SATURDAY 12 APRIL 2014
Where? DEW CATCHER SITE (Browns Road, Durban Point – this is that futuristic looking wind turbine situated on the beach between DUC and Ushaka).
Haven’t done an Insta-round up in a while, so here is a summary of what I’ve been doing in the 031.
1. Wek! Niche Offices, Jan ‘14.
2. Double A$$ Grab. The Winston, Jan ’14.
3. Moo! Ballito Flag Farm, Jan ’14.
4. Art Game strong! Currie Road, Jan ’14.
5. Nan turns 82. Westwood, Jan ’14.
6. Skater Hater. North Beach, Jan ’14.
7. Sleeping Lion. Kloof, Feb ’14.
8. Hip Hop and Vinyl at Offtharecord. Cool Runnings, Feb ’14.
9. Picnic Time! Snake Park, Feb ’14.
10. Soccer Boys. Glenwood, Feb ’14.
I grew up in between the rock pools near my gran’s house. Anstey’s beach was my holiday playground. I would snorkel for hours finding treasures of missing earrings and 1 rand coins. I watched my older cousins slink off with their surfboards and cooler friends,wishing I’d grow up to be like them.
In my teen years ,I wore a bikini top under my uniform. I only moved on to actual bra’s when I was about 15. Even then, I still prefer the feeling of my costume.
Getting older I came to the beach to wash away emotions, breakups and let-downs. I fantasized about getting a surfer boyfriend and running in those circles.
We’d slink around with our cooler friends and stay anchored in the sand until dusk,flaunting our adolescent bodies,still perfect and tanned.
Varsity came round,and I moved away from my coastal home. Holidays were spent trying to regain that tan and I got my surfer boyfriend and started running in those circles.
Today ,I came to the beach ,wearing that same old bikini from when I was 15, playing in the waves with my 15 year old brother. Soaking in the delicious sun, envying the adolescent bodies and living it up before I have to leave again.
I was most definitely born a beach baby.
A little throwback post to March 2011.
This morning my boyfriend and I woke up early in the dark Sunday morning light, to the sound of falling rain and cars driving over the wet roads outside his flat. After a rushed cup of tea we loaded up the car with his surfboards and left for the beach.
The skies were grey and the horizon was was indecipherable against the dark, flat ocean waters. Only ghostly outlines of ships could be seen floating behind the think mist. Streams of water gushed down the slanted parking lot and only a few dedicated joggers blurred through the window screen, could be seen on the promenade.
We stripped down and ran to the beach, shivering under the icy Autumn drops, trudging through puddles of driftwood and onto the wet sand.The sea was flat and speckled with raindrops and crowded with surfers and canoes. We crashed through the breakers into the warm sea and paddled out. He put me on the long-board and pushed me out into the waves, holding on behind me and I giggled wildly from the rush.
We bobbed about the ocean, kissing and playing until it was too cold to enjoy it.The rain had calmed,and the salt tingled on my skin. A shower shared with a vagrant, refreshed us before we hopped in the car, heater on, and cruised home for blueberry flapjacks.
Perfect morning.Thank you