This story was updated on 3 September 2019.
Here’s where to kick off your shoes and get sand in between your toes.
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1. Morgan Bay Hotel, Wild Coast
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The relatively unexplored Wild Coast offers the ultimate in unspoilt beach holidays, and here’s a variety of accommodation choices, an arm’s length from the ocean – well almost.
The 34 hotel rooms include family suites and two penthouse suites – all well-appointed and tastefully decorated. For those who prefer to self-cater, there’s Knott Far that sleeps up to nine guests in two self-contained units. Both have sea views. We chose to set up camp right on the edge of Inchara Lagoon where shady trees offer a welcome respite from the midday sun.
A shallow paddling-and-swimming lagoon, on the mile-long beach, is safe for youngsters and there are canoes for hire. Older children can ride the warm waves on body boards. The area offers hiking and mountain-bike trails, horse riding, rock climbing and abseiling, golf and township tours.
Hunting for ‘treasure’ from a 16th-century Portuguese shipwreck is a popular pursuit here. With all the activities, children are sure to get a restful night’s sleep. And remember Milkwood Spa. It promises to realign body, mind and soul.
+27 (0) 43 841 1062; +27 (0) 82 852 8263; [email protected]
Words Olivia Schaffer
2. Umngazi River Bungalows and Spa, Wild Coast
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We found this paradise near the coastal town of Port St John’s. The beautifully decorated thatch bungalows among indigenous gardens are the perfect setting for a relaxing getaway. Waking to the sound of the sea and bird calls was a refreshing way to start our day. Umngazi is a family resort that offers loads for children, but it’s not only for families.
Couples can book the Honeymoon Bungalow for privacy and pampering. All meals were sumptuous spreads. We hired an excellent guide to take us hiking over the coastal hills that surround the resort and also made use of the ferry boat over the river where some of us went for a long walk along the beach while others simply relaxed beside the sea. I spoilt myself with a visit to the spa and what a view.
From the deck set high above the resort, we watched dolphins and whales at play in the bay. The service is excellent and attentive.
+27 (0) 47 564 1115/6/8/9; [email protected]
Words Liz McKenzie
3. Amble Inn Guest House, Shelley Beach
As thoroughbred Vaalies, a regular beach holiday is a must and what could be better than a comfortable, self-catering beach house for a small family, set in a garden just a few stairs up from the beach. Close to all amenities, yet shielded from road noise by the caretaker’s cottage, it has one double, en-suite bedroom with a large oval bath and shower. A second bedroom has two single beds and a bathroom with shower. We loved the spacious lounge, dining room, and kitchen fully equipped for four – it even has a dishwasher.
The unit has air conditioning, a lock-up garage and laundry facilities. It’s a home away from home that begs you to put your feet up and relax. With its built-in braai, the patio was our favourite spot. Breakfast, afternoon snacks and sundowners were enjoyed in the well-maintained garden. Sea views and the sound of crashing waves are included in the price. All seven Blue Flag beaches in the area are within easy reach and make for a great day on the beach.
+27 (0) 83 274 3305; [email protected]
Words Riaan Hattingh
4. Fairmont Zimbali Resort, Ballito
If serenity and luxury are your main concerns, look no further.
I’ve been here multiple times, yet it always manages to take my breath away. Not only does each of the 150 rooms offer an unobstructed view of the tiered pool, and spectacular views of the ocean, the rooms are also tastefully decorated in traditional Zulu style, and the well-trained and friendly staff are always at the ready to lend a helping hand with any request.
When it comes to dining, there’s a choice of nine establishments, each with its own unique flair and flavour. The cuisine ranges from local feel-good to elegant dishes inspired by faraway places.T
he Zimbali Coastal Resort, in which the Fairmont Zimbali Resort is located, has multiple accommodation options, ranging from a five-star lodge to massive self-catering mansions. It is, simply put, the grandest way to enjoy the South Coast.
+27 (0) 32 538 5000
Words Gerhard Horn
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5. Arniston Seaside Cottages, Arniston
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If your seaside dream destination includes intimate beaches, rock pools, whitewashed cottages and breezes cooled by sparkling sea, Arniston has it all. Thatched Seaside Cottages match the dream, together with the details that make a self-catering holiday a pleasure: well-equipped kitchens, big fluffy towels and open fireplaces. Close to gorgeous Roman Beach, the three-star cottages sleep two, three or four, and are dog-friendly.
There’s so much to enjoy with centuries-old fishermen’s cottages, traditional boats on the slipway, a fish market where fish sells at R50 a kilogram, pampering and wellness treatments at the Arniston Spa Hotel, the Waenhuiskrans Cave and restaurants with country cooking. Plus Africa’s southernmost tip Cape Agulhas, Bredasdorp, Napier and fascinating Elim Mission Village are just a short drive away.
+27 (0) 28 445 9772; [email protected]
Words Marianne Heron
6. Abalone Pool Villas, Paternoster
There isn’t a better vantage point for idyllic views of Paternoster than at Abalone Pool Suites. The two luxury, self-catering units are elevated and have magnificent views over the bay. Curled on a comfy chair alongside the infinity pool, with the ocean just beyond it, we soaked up the sunset and watched the moonrise.
The living area is beautifully appointed with comfortable couches, Persian rugs, and oversize Tretchikoff prints. Every room has a coffee-pod machine and Wi-Fi. The two en suite bedrooms with king-size beds both open onto the pool. There’s an indoor fireplace for cosy winter evenings watching Netflix with a glass of sherry; or be outside around the pool and outdoor braai on long summer days.
Breakfast is offered in the villas, and they are serviced daily with a turndown. For a surcharge, the butler will bring you late-afternoon drinks and canapés – so you don’t have to lift a finger. It’s spectacular.
+27 (0) 22 752 2044; +27 (0) 14 004 0131; [email protected]
Words Keri Harvey
7. Windekind, Paternoster
With a view across a small green belt to the ocean at Bekbaai, Windekind is spectacularly located with sweeping sea views. In spring the views are even better. The green belt transforms into a riot of white and yellow daisies.
The upstairs porch and braai area is the perfect sundowner and supper spot. To optimise the experience of being so close to the ocean, Windekind is cleverly designed for indoor-outdoor living, with stack doors that fold away and bedrooms with sea views and private verandas for early morning coffee or all-day relaxation.
There are four spacious bedrooms, so it’s comfortable for eight and if the weather cools there’s a well-equipped games room with table tennis, pool, table soccer, and a TV lounge.
+27 (0) 87 231 0138
Words Keri Harvey
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8. White Pearl Resort, Ponta Mamoli
The resort is neatly hidden behind rows of casuarina trees on the southern coast of Mozambique, the only clue to its existence a rickety sign telling you to ‘shot left’ from the sandy road to get there.
It is worth the drive, and is the most luxurious place we’ve ever experienced in Moz. The rooms are large and, if you opt for the grandest option, you get your own pool.
What I loved most were all the sliding doors. You can open everyone and enjoy views of the private beach, the sounds of the sea and a cool breeze over the bed. Amenities include a bar, spa, restaurant and private dining options. It’s one of those places you can just arrive at and not leave for the entire stay.
+27 (0) 11 026 2674; +27 (0) 82 806 1201; [email protected]
Words Gerhard Horn