Words: Anne Schauffer | Images: Shane Van Eck & Shutterstock

Ballito on KwaZulu-Natal’s Dolphin Coast, so named because of the bottlenose dolphins that visit the area, has morphed from a small seaside town into a large holiday and residential suburb which continues to grow. Every year, the town hosts the international Ballito Pro surfing contest and the Matric Rage Festival.

For the older North Coast generation, who were largely sugar farmers or holiday-makers who spent every holiday at their beachfront homes in the area, the new Ballito is almost indescribable. It’s seemingly burst out of nowhere; from residential property along the coastline sprung the commercial and retail hub which hugs the toll road north and south. Buildings, shopping centres, residential developments and the old Ballito homes – many of them reinvented – now stretch from the fabulous coastline in a block right up to the highway.

Ballito is a short drive away from the King Shaka International Airport, making it convenient for people commuting to Joburg or Cape Town and for holiday-makers who prefer to fly in and hire a car. The town is now rejuvenated and youthful.

Holiday homes and accommodation

In the AfrAsia Bank South Africa Wealth Report of 2018, Ballito is rated as one of the top holiday destinations in South Africa that attract millionaires.

In the New World Wealth 2017 report, the coastal resort and estate of Zimbali, located close to Ballito, was rated as one of the top 10 residential estates in South Africa. A large percentage of Zimbali property owners are not permanent residents – they come from upcountry or other parts of the world and have luxury holiday homes in the area. Zimbali Lakes is the newest addition, and within that, a R3bn Evergreen Lifestyle retirement village will be added.

Ballito has a good mix of homes, with many affordable options in residential complexes – a duplex or apartment close to the beach can still be found for around R2m, although most cost more.

There are numerous excellent estates within and around Ballito, such as Simbithi Eco-Estate, Palm Lakes Estates, Seaward Estates and Brettonwood Coastal Estate, as well as numerous others, some with retirement components.

Resident Clive Ford says, “We moved to Ballito from Durban’s Berea, and although we were concerned we’d be too far out, that’s not the case at all. Everything’s here and the children are happily settled in the local schools. We have a real outdoor lifestyle here and we love it.”

Surf and sea

Ballito has always been known as a superb beach holiday destination. Whether it’s bodyboarding, surfing, swimming or paddling, there’s something for everyone. Ballito also hosts the biggest beach festival on the continent, the Ballito Pro, which is also the world’s longest-running professional surfing event. In 2009, this international event relocated from Durban Beachfront to Ballito. Sponsored by Billabong, the event takes place on the popular Willard Beach and the KwaDukuza municipality pulls out all the stops to showcase Ballito as a world-class surfing and holiday destination. This year, the event will take place from 21 June to 1 July and will feature a variety of beach activities, including free music concerts by top South African bands, retail therapy, beach soccer and extreme sports. This year’s event celebrates 50 years of surfing and promises to live up to the slogan “The North Coast is the hottest place to be.”

Holiday-maker Carol Strang says, “We’ve had a little duplex in Ballito, and we’ve holidayed here from Gauteng since the children were tiny. They’re water babies, so for them the combination of sea, young people and the Ballito Pro in June is a huge drawcard.”


Ballito has a wonderful stretch of coastline, where you can still find secluded fishing spots, go o­ff shore if you prefer or even turn your back on the beach and head for the mountain biking trails in the surrounding areas. Holla Trails near Ballito is ideal for mountain bikers, trail runners and walkers.

For those looking for a thrill, Ballito has plenty to keep you entertained, such as microlight tours, kitesurfing, scuba diving and deep-sea fishing. For those who want to take things slow, there’s the Ndlondlo Reptile Park and the Flag Animal Farm, which is home to more than 1,000 rescued animals.

“I love escaping my big city life in Joburg and spending my holiday enjoying the beach, the warm waters and the friendly atmosphere of Ballito,” says holiday-maker Jessica Daniels.

“I grew up on the North Coast and have never left. We’re in a great residential estate now, which removes all the hassles of home ownership and lets you believe you’re on permanent holiday!”

Steve Proctor, resident


  • Ballito Lifestyle Centre provides a convenient, easy and authentic shopping experience for residents and holiday-makers.
  • Ballito Junction Regional Mall features 200 stores, with Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Checkers, Edgars, Game and Dis-Chem as anchor tenants.
  • The Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Umhlanga has more than 390 stores, 70 eateries and a host of exciting entertainment options.
  • Tiffany’s Shopping Centre in Salt Rock offers a large Spar as well as clothing boutiques, real estate offices, restaurants and more.


  • Canelands Beach Club & Spa: for 180-degree views over the ocean and the sound of waves crashing just a few metres away
  • Fairmont Zimbali Resort: for an unforgettable experience of relaxation and pampering
  • Prince’s Grant Golf Estate: for golf, breathtaking views and luxury accommodation
  • Coco de Mer Boutique Hotel: in the heart of Ballito with easy access to all the bustling hot spots
  • La Montagne Resort Hotel and Spa: featuring an in-house Wellness Retreat, a live supper theatre club, daily entertainment programmes and more
  • Vetho House: a charming beachfront getaway with each room offering a private balcony which boasts unobstructed sea views
  • Zimbali View Eco Guesthouse features seven individually decorated, ocean-facing suites


  • Fiamma Grill: for mouth-watering meat dishes
  • Mozambik Ballito: for sumptuous seafood
  • Al Pescatore: for delicious Italian fare
  • Beira Alta: for Portuguese cuisine with an African twist
  • Zaras Cafe: for continental-style meals
  • Eat Local Grill: for delicious Argentinian-style grills
  • The Fig Tree Restaurant at Simbithi Eco-Estate: for alfresco dining