Sandy beaches, warm waters, and urban sophistication have long made Durban a favorite summer destination for residents of Johannesburg, Pretoria, and South Africa’s other landlocked cities. Summer here is October through April, and winters are mild. It’s also a magnet for travelers from other parts of southern Africa, and a great base for travelers, not far from some of the country’s best game reserves.
This subtropical region, with lush forests, plenty of birdlife, wetlands, mountains, raging rivers, and pristine beaches, is home to the offspring of several cultures that clashed here, Zulu, British, Afrikaner and Indian among them. Out of a tumultuous history, and the rich diversity of it's people, something new is still forming: a mix of languages, cuisines and political perspectives that's unique to this place.
Not surprisingly, there’s also a good-sized gay community, but many of the gay and gay-friendly bars and clubs in Durban’s Morningside neighborhood have closed recently. Cape Town and Johannesburg, with far larger gays scenes, are the country's gay capitals.
Same-sex marriage became legal in South Africa on November 30, 2006 with the Civil Unions Bill -- the fifth country in the world, and the first (and still the only) country in Africa to do so.
Durban International Airport is about 25 miles from downtown. It’s a brand new facility, that was built in time for the 2010 World Cup events. Taxis are very expensive, so consider a shuttle bus.
A car is the best way to get around Durban. Taxis don’t patrol the streets, so ask your hotel to call one. For city bus services see the Durban Transport and Mynah and Muvo information sites, which include a map of the People Mover routes. Buses on the three People Mover routes (blue, green and red) run every 15 minutes between the hours of 5am and 10pm daily. For an overview of services in the region, including trains, buses, taxis, bikes, car rental and limos -- even helicopters -- consult the Durban Transport website.
Currency and Money
The rand is the local currency. Each rand is divided into 100 cents. ATMs are plentiful in business and hotel districts.
Local Media and resources
The Gay Durban Blogspot is a source for local information from the guys at Durban View Guesthouse.
Exit is the gay news and listings source for all of South Africa.
The Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre (42 McKenzie Rd, Morningside) provides community services and resources including a library, health clinic, counseling and legal advice, plus info on the local gay scene.
BAT Centre (45 Maritime Pl) arts and culture community centre in Small Craft Harbour off Victoria Embankment; visual arts, music, acting, writing and literature workshops, exhibits, performances, cafe and shopping.
The KwaZulu-Natal Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association promotes KwaZulu-Natal as a pink-friendly tourism destination.
The KwaZulu-Natal tourist website has general information on Durban and surrounding areas.
For map locations and website links to businesses below, and more, see our gay Durban listings pages.
Durban View Guesthouse (16 Holstead Gardens, Morningside) exclusively gay guesthouse at heart of Durban's trendy restaurant and nightlife pub zone; sweeping city, ocean views from rooftop sundeck and Jacuzzi.
Protea Hotel Edward Durban (149 O.R. Tambo Parade - formerly Marine Parade) large gay-friendly four-star hotel, Victorian elegance on Durban's Golden Mile, five minutes from downtown; sea views, restaurant, bar, pool, WiFi, satellite TV.
Sommersby B&B (17 Claribel Rd) charming Morningside Edwardian, lovingly converted, wooden floors, high ceilings, fireplace, home atmosphere. Opposite Windermere Shopping Centre, near Musgrave Shopping Centre, main beaches, and casino.
A bit to the north, on the Dolphin Coast, guesthouse options include: Carter's Lodge (54 Armstrong Ave, La Lucia), three en-suite guest rooms, private entrances, DSTV, patio sea views; and the Ekhaya Guest House (75 Hilary Dr, Ballito), two ensuite double bedrooms, swimming pool, hot breakfasts and other meals on request, ten minutes walk to the beach, with pool parties for the local gay community from time to time.
Two hours drive south of Durban, the Hooting Owl Guest House (13, Mars Rd, Marina Beach) has two naturist-friendly self-catering apartments and a cottage at Thatch Bush-Veld Lodge, sleeping 2-8 each; set in sub-tropical forest, within walking distance of the beach, with pool and secure parking.
To the west in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg National Park wildlife reserve, Qambathi Mountain Lodge (Kamberg Rd, Kamberg Valley) offers five suites in their lodge, with garden and mountain views, full breakfast and dinner.
Kloof is only a 20 minute drive from Durban. With a higher elevation, this is a place to get away from the summer heat and humidity of the coast. The Krantzkloof Nature Reserve here is home to a variety of wildlife and birds in indigenous forest habitat at the Kloof Gorge. Through here runs the Molweni River with a series of spectacular waterfalls.
Croeso B&B (1 Kloof Falls Rd) thatched home, two suites, separate cottage, patio overlooking pool and Jacuzzi, elegant dining, full English breakfast.
Inn Afrika B & B (31 Springdale Rd), one of original Kloof farmhouses, sub-tropical bird-filled garden. Modern comforts, separate entrances, cozy lounge with fireplace, dining room, pool, tennis court. Two hours from Drakensberg Mountain and Northern Natal game parks.
Makaranga Garden Lodge (1A Igwababa Road), 30 acre lush botanical garden, Valley of a Thousand Hills setting, elegant luxury accommodation, superb cuisine. Table dê Hote dinner menu, Tuscan Terrace breakfast and lunch - day visitors may walk in gardens. Spacious lodge, hand painted murals, original art, classically furnished lounge, grand piano.
See SafariNow for more Kloof guesthouse options.
Club Altitude (25 Silver Ave, Windermere), the trendy, mostly gay new "cosmopolitan pub/night club for the anyone different and fabulous;" restaurant, dance club, live entertainment from drag to comedy and erotic male shows.
Harveys (465 Innes Rd, Morningside) gay-friendly restaurant in landmark building between two elegant parks, two dining rooms, terrace, open-air cigar/cocktail lounge, retro-quasi-gothic-hunting lodge hodgepodge decor, regulars and glitterati.
The Lounge (226 Mathews Meyiwa Rd, Morningside) - CLOSED MARCH 2016 - gay nightclub on 2 levels; with 5 bars, 3 dance floors, outdoor balconies, lounge areas, pool tables. Bear's nights. Tuesday night Boy's Night are men-only at their Red Bar.
Spiga d'Oro (200 Florida Rd), unpretentious, animated atmosphere, modern Italian menu, good value, outdoor terrace seating, open from breakfast time to early hours of next morning.
See more hotels, restaurants and other businesses on our map and listings pages.