If you’re looking to up your romance game with a trip to South Africa, head to the seaside town of Durban. This quirky little city is bursting with creativity, culture and unique things to do, and we’ve got a list of unusual dates to try out while you’re there.
Eat with the fishes
Take your dinner date to a whole new level with a romantic dinner among the sharks. The Cargo Hold is a fine-dining restaurant located in the heart of the Phantom Ship at Ushaka Marine World in South Beach. The restaurant aims to make patrons feel like they are immersed in the aquarium’s fish tank. There are two levels: one overlooks the tanks and the other is against floor-to-ceiling shark tanks. Enjoy a world-class menu that boasts aphrodisiacs, like freshly shucked oysters, or seafood like seared Norwegian salmon, and grilled crayfish. Booking is essential, and they employ a smart casual policy in the evenings.
Smile and wave
The wave house at Gateway Theatre of Shopping boasts two simulated waves, known as flow riders, that mimic small waves so you can learn how to surf in a controlled environment with trained professionals on hand. As a date it means lots of fun, falling, getting wet and showing off your moves (and body!). And, if you’re not in the mood for getting wet, you can still get some board-riding in, right next door at South Africa’s biggest skate park designed by Tony Hawk himself.
Head for a local delicacy
While we admit this might not be the most romantic thing to do – especially for vegetarians – it will certainly make your list of adventurous things done together. Watch women carefully cleave meat from the skulls of bovine animals. The cow head is collected by trolley operators from local butcheries and the women skin the head and boil the meat in pots. The boiled meat is then placed on wooden chopping boards with condiments for courageous foodies and customers. If you’re not up to eating, then just stroll through the bovine head market and take in the rich atmosphere of the place.
Go train riding
Go for a romantic ride through green valleys on a steam train. Tucked in the verdant Valley of a Thousand Hills is the village of Inchanga. Catch a steam train from Kloof to Inchanga’s small Victorian station in the rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal and go back in time to when nothing existed but the passing landscape and you budding romance. There are trains on the first and last Sunday of every month, and seats fill up quickly so book in advance.
Cycle along the beach
There are a few bike-hiring shops along the beach in Durban. We suggest you get to Bike & Bean, which not only makes some of the best coffee in Durban but offers tandem and single bikes for hire, so that you and your partner can get some fresh air and exercise together as you take in the lovely Indian Ocean along the promenade.
Get the adrenaline pumping and jump off the Moses Mabhida Stadium on the Guinness World Records’ tallest swing. The Big Swing allows adventurous lovers to take a thrilling free-fall for 80 metres (262.5 feet) before swinging out into a massive 220-metre (721.8-foot) arc in the heart of the stadium (which was built for the 2010 World Cup). It’s a unique and heart-pumping activity that is bound to give you both a thrill.
Horse ride on the beach
There’s nothing like a gallop on the sand along the ocean to get those endorphins running. And if you do happen to fall in, the water is warm, so pack your swim things too. Bond over the ocean, the animals and, if you’re feeling extra romantic, book a ride at sunset. Get more information here.
Go shark-cage diving
For an experience neither of you will forget, how about shark-cage diving off the coast of KwaZulu-Natal? Located on Durban’s south coast, all you need is a wetsuit and a desire for adventure. Climb into a cage with trained professionals and get ready to face one of the most feared underwater mammals in the world: the shark. Turn your fear into a fascinating date together here.
Touch the sky
Get a truly unique view of Durban while spending quality time together. At the Moses Mabhida Stadium is the Adventure Walk, a climb that takes you up the iconic arch of the stadium’s ‘basket’. At the top of the 106-metre (347.8-foot) high arch above the stadium is a viewing deck that provides panoramic views of Durban. There are two ways to get there: take the SkyCar, a glass elevator that moves along the arc, or walk along the Sky, a 500-step adventure walk that takes 20 minutes, climbing up the arc to the top. It’s a fun exercise together, with a great reward at the end.
Pose for a pic at the most beautiful pier in the world
There’s nothing more romantic than a walk along the beach with a photo to commemorate that special moment. Umhlanga Beach may have choppier waters than the beaches in the north, but it boasts the whale bone piear – a beautiful pier that CNN dubbed the most beautiful in the world. The pier imitates the structure of a whale skeleton, with curved pillars that provide the background for the prettiest photos at sunset (or sunrise!) Pose at the end to get the most of the pier and the sun setting across the water.
If you head towards North Beach in Durban you will find the promenade dotted with colourful ricksha riders, who promise you a fun trip along the promenade. The ricksha driver pulls you and your loved one along the ocean in a brightly decorated hand cart, all the while entertaining you with conversation and riding techniques, as he dips you backward to the point where you feel like you’re going to fall back, only to reveal there’s a mechanism that keeps you from tipping over. It’s good fun on the beach.