Exploring Salt Rock
I grew up with a recreational fisherman father who was a banker by day. He partook in some pretty cool fishing competitions throughout his “fishing career” – the Billfish 15000 being one of them. For interest’s sake, the competition started in 1987 when it got its name from the total amount of prize monies. There were 60 competing boats that year, and the grand prize was R15000 in cash. Today prizes total in the millions of Rands and usually include a new boat for the winning team.
But I digress. KwaZulu-Natal was always the preferred holiday spot for obvious reasons growing up. Trips always had my dad’s ski boat and an entourage of recreational fishermen families who made the trek from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal in tow. One thing we were never short of was friends. Most of our holidays were spent with the same crew we eventually got to know as adults.
KwaZulu-Natal is a quick drive away, with summer all year long, and out of this world fishing. As a child, our family holidays were mostly made up of exploring the best spots for fishing along the north and south coast which included many gems along the way; St Lucia, Richards Bay, all the way down south to Durban, Amanzimtoti, Scottburgh, Port Edward and Leisure Bay. We visited them all and found all the best fishing spots, and a family tradition, finding the coffee shop that baked the perfect scones. We went on a hunt for those scones every holiday.
One tiny destination we missed along the way as kids, I discovered much later in my life when I started looking for the perfect KwaZulu-Natal getaway, is Salt Rock.
If it’s a laidback, small and on-the-beach vibe you’re looking for then Salt Rock is going to be a paradise for you. Once you make the turn off the N2 north highway towards Salt Rock, you are suddenly transported to a hidden village on the beach. The drive down the first hill is thick with dense bush which later develops into larger-than-life palm trees acting as the forever-canopy over this beautiful little place. Only a few minutes from Ballito and I mean, blink and you’ll miss it, this is a place for the dreamers, the sleepers and the relaxation seekers.
Salt Rock is a slow-paced town with great beaches and even better coffee and pizza. It’s a small town with not an awful lot to do – but that is why we go there. It’s all about the salt, surf and sun in Salt Rock. It’s the perfect hideaway, a hidden little paradise.
Places to Stay
Hands down our favourite place to stay. Be sure to make a booking about six months to a year in advance – especially if you want to visit during high season. The place is popular as it is situated only a few meters walk from the sandy beach. You walk through the main garden and voila – you’re on the beach. The murmur of the waves close by and the privacy of the private beach area in front of Sea Cottages makes it the perfect place to unwind. All the suites we have stayed in over the last few years were modern and fresh – all self-catering.
Salt Rock Hotel and Beach Resort
The Salt Rock Hotel and Beach Resort has been around for many years. The resort offers guests a variety of accommodation like the iconic Salt Rock Hotel, Salt Rock Caravan Park, Salt Rock Palms Timeshare, Salt Rock Country Club and Salt Rock Shopping Centre. Once you check-in – you really don’t need to go anywhere but the beach and enjoy all the facilities the resort offers. Perfect for larger families!
Canelands is a stylish beach club and spa – also on the beach, as with most of the accommodation options in Salt Rock. A perfect getaway for couples and a wedding venue to die for. The views are incredible from here and you’ll fall asleep to the ebb and flow of the ocean. The restaurant, Two Shrimps offers fancy food for curious diners.
Places to Eat
Family food with a big German heart. Big meals, big portions, imported beer and a great menu for the kids too. Their milkshakes are worth ordering two and their eisbein wins hands down for a hearty, German meal that will last the entire day! Siggis is a definite must for any visitor to Salt Rock.
Salt Café is a trendy little pizza joint that also bakes tasty and well-crafted croissants and brews decadent coffee. Definitely our first stop when we arrive. The pizza is a quick and delicious meal for tired drivers. Buy a dozen of croissants and you’re all set for your first morning in Salt Rock.
Ray’s kitchen is a contemporary bistro with superb food and platings. The food always looks good and tastes even better. A large vegetarian selection, which is always a win for the vegetarians on holiday. Their menu changes often – giving you fresh options with fresh in season ingredients.
Places to Play
Main Beach and Granny Pools
Salt Rock’s main beach is quiet and the sea is perfect for swimming. The beach is manned by experienced lifeguards and overall, just a super safe, family-friendly beach. It’s called Salt Rock for a reason… along the beach, you’ll find many pools from the rock formations that are perfect for little ones. The Granny Pool is one of the most popular ones, attracting many visitors all year long.
The fully operational litchi farm is the perfect morning out. A place that celebrates good food, décor, design and crafts. The actual litchi farm sells directly to the public. December is picking season, but due to the difficulty of harvesting litchis, visitors are not able to do any of the pickings. The venue has an outdoor eatery and bar, The Shed known for its gourmet, gastropub grub.
Greenhaus is another favourite, local furniture and decor shop, where you can engage with skilled artisans directly to get custom homeware designed and made. The farm has numerous shops and outlets. Make sure you plan to spend some money. Chances are you’ll find something perfect for your home here. Textile and interior designers, finely crafted leather goods and footwear, art studios and fashion design. This place will steal a few hours of your time with special finds you will cherish for years.
Salt Rock is a hop, skip and a jump away from great tourist attractions. A short 40 min drive south is Durban, vibey, artsy and cool with great food and entertainment. Hire a bike or skateboard and take a slow stroll down the longest beachfront promenade in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are loads of Instagram worthy opportunities to make your feed.
There is also a great selection of restaurants and pubs all along the coastline. Ballito is next door to Salt Rock and offers its own little bit of magic. This is a trendy spot with great clothing stores and fabulous restaurants if you’re looking for something five-star.
Zimbali, Prince’s Grant, Umhlali and Durban Golf Courses are a short drive away and uShaka Marine World also in Durban is really a fun day out – no matter your age. If the waterpark is not for you, spend a few hours in Sea World – a world-class aquarium.
Make a place in your travel bucket list for Salt Rock. It’s close, it’s paradise.
By Marion Nowak