Visit Paradise - Marina Beach - Hi, I’m John Skene from The Hooting Owl Guest House in Marina Beach on the KwaZulu Natal South Coast.
Marina Beach is best known for its lush sub-tropical indigenous tree-lined streets, which support a host of wildlife and birds. Even in high season, a feeling of peace and tranquillity surrounds you. Often referred to as the “Honolulu of The South Coast”, Marina beach has one of the most beautiful Blue Flag beaches in South Africa. Marina Beach is a quiet oasis to unwind and recharge. However, it is also close enough to the tourism hub of Margate, should you wish to visit the hotspots, nightclubs, bars and restaurants for a night on the town.
When the weather is good, I like to relax at the beach, or take a long walk along the coastal paths from Southbroom Beach to Mpenyati Nature Reserve.
When the weather is bad, I like to head to Shelly Beach, where you can shop till you drop at the South Coast Mall or Shelly Centre. Shelly Centre also has a six-cinema complex, showing the latest movie releases. There are also a number of good restaurants should you wish to have lunch or dinner out.
I think the best time of year to visit is May, because this is the month with the lowest rainfall, low humidity and warm sunny days. A swim in the sea is doable – albeit a bit fresh! The beaches are also a little less crowded during the ‘cooler’ months.
My favourite breakfast spot is Beaver Creek Coffee Farm. Beaver Creek is situated on the foothills overlooking Port Edward and has grown from a small family business growing coffee beans to producers of some of the world’s finest coffee. The estate sells freshly roasted speciality coffees, does a delicious breakfast, light lunches and yummy cakes.
For lunch, I also suggest The Waffle House in Ramsgate for the best Belgian waffles. The Waffle House, located on the edge of the Ramsgate Lagoon has been a South Coast
landmark since it was established in 1957. Any visit to The Waffle House is a unique experience; you can try the tasty waffles and also browse the art, pottery and crafts on display at the Gaze Gallery or the Basket Shop. There is a well-equipped area for children to play.
My favourite restaurant is Friar Tucks in Margate, try the Pepper Rump or Fillet, it melts in your mouth. Friar Tucks is an award winning, family run steakhouse in Margate. Now a well-established landmark in the South Coast town, it is themed on Robin Hood and Friar Tuck. They are open every night in season and closed on Sundays out of season.
Best Pizza / Italian spot is La Capannina in Ramsgate. A family run restaurant with a great atmosphere and genuine Italian food. Like going home to Mama. The food is always made with the freshest produce available and the herbs used are from the family garden – it doesn’t get any fresher. Try the delicious pizzas, pasta or the Brodette Dell Adricatrico. Out of season La Capannina is closed on Monday and does not serve Tuesday lunch. This is an extremely popular restaurant though, so please make sure you reserve a table.
For a night out on the town try Backline or the Cock & Tail in Margate. Both are great for the younger set to dance the night away. The Cock & Tail is at Shop 28, Rondevouz Centre in Margate.
If you want to meet locals, go to Mariners Shipwreck Pub, where you can sit on the patio and watch the ocean or watch your favourite team sport on the huge TV. The Mauritian style restaurant is situated right on Marina Beach and serves a great choice of seafood. They are open seven days a week and do a fish braai on a Sunday.
Marina Beach’s best kept secret is The Hooting Owl. This unique Bush Veldt style guesthouse provides quality self-catering accommodation at an affordable price.
For some live music, attend one of the open-air concerts at Skumba Crafts or Bellevue Estates in Southbroom.
To relax and restore the soul, visit Mpenjati Beach, where you can be at one with nature where you hardly see another soul. This quiet, little known beach is a favourite spot for discreet naturists who like to get an all-over tan.
If you're feeling adventurous, try The Wild Five in Oribi Gorge, where you can take a bungie swing, go water rafting, abseil, or horse riding.
From there, take a drive to the Lake Eland Game Reserve. Just 40km from Margate and 20km from Port Shepstone, the game reserve is the perfect place for a day trip. Entrance is R25 and you can drive through the reserve – keeping your eyes open for zebra, wildebeest, giraffe and of course Eland (although they are very shy). Horse rides and hiking trails are available and one can hire mountain bikes, picnic or braai by the lake.
If you're here in June / July, join in the fun at the Sardine Festival and Ski-Boat Fishing Festival.
Travelling with children? A fun outing is to Waterworld in Port Edward. A fun filled day at the water park or head a bit further south to the new venue, Wild Waters Water Park at The Wild Coast Sun & Casino.
When money's no object, spend the day at The Wild Coast Sun & Casino, where you can visit the day-spa, attend a show, gamble the night away or eat at the gourmet restaurants.
I love Marina Beach because our village is still a pristine haven for nature. Only sustainable eco-sensitive developments are built that care for the environment. Hard to achieve on a coastal strip that is fast becoming over developed for the sake of money.