The “Dolphin Coast of Natal” is buzzing, but perhaps buzzing is not the right word for such a laid back environment. The opening of the King Shaka International Airport in 2010 near Tongaat has accelerated a trend which was already well developed; the push northwards from Durban. 15 years ago, past Umhlanga Rocks, it was sugar cane fields as far as the eye could see.
Slowly but surely that sugar cane is disappearing under the wave of development on the coastal strip. Ballito is the fastest growing town in South Africa and Ilembe is the fastest growing municipality. From being a sleepy dorp, Ballito now boasts world class facilities for leisure and accommodation. Zimbali, the golf estate and hotel facilities, is an internationally recognised brand name.
But amongst the sugar cane, I have what the French call a “coup de couer,” a “favourite of the heart.” It is the Prince’s Grant Coastal Resort near the town of Stanger. It is only approachable via a circuitous drive through the middle of sugar cane estates. This drive slows you down, physically and mentally for the experience you will enjoy. As soon as you pass the entrance gate, a feeling of wellbeing and tranquillity washes over you. There is an elegant colonial lodge from which you can observe the fairways of this top 20 ranked golf course and enjoys vistas of the ocean. There are several swimming pools, tennis and squash courts, children’s play areas, a mighty lagoon which you can kayak on and lastly but certainly not least, a pristine and deserted Indian ocean beachfront.
For apart from all the splendid sporting facilities what is really appealing is the environment. Twenty years ago, this resort in the heart of the “Dolphin Coast of Natal“was hewn out of fields of sugar cane. If you know anything about farming you will appreciate what a devastating monoculture sugar cane farming is. It kills absolutely everything in the earth and allows nothing else to grow. When the developers ripped out the cane, they took the farsighted decision to replant, apart from the golf course, with indigenous Natal coastal plants and trees. It is now, a lush, green and energetic environment. Wildlife and birdlife abound. Bushbuck, duikers, vervet monkeys all prosper in this benign garden of eden.
It is this environment which gives you the feeling of wellbeing. It really is a case of kicking your shoes off and relaxing. There is a progressive upgrading of quality accommodation at the Prince’s Grant Lodge as well as the sporting facilities and activities. I wrote in an earlier blog about Rocktail Bay Camp, a neighbour to Prince’s Grant further up the Natal Coast in the St Lucia Wetlands. I mentioned that space and tranquillity is the new luxury. Prince’s Grant has that luxury in spades.
By Nicolas Edwards