St Lucia Beaches
iSimangaliso Wetland Park comprises of over 220km of South Africa’s coastline. The almost 9% of coastline extends from the north-eastern border of Mozambique at Kosi Bay to the south of Maphelane. Herein lies the beaches that border St Lucia.
These pristine, golden beaches are the nesting grounds for the endangered Leatherback and Loggerhead sea turtles. From November to February each year, these majestic animals embark on a treacherous journey across oceans to lay their eggs on the exact beach they once hatched from.
Just south of St Lucia is Maphelane beach. Maphelane features the second highest naturally vegetated dune in the world. Maphelane is walking distance from St Lucia, about 3km along the beach. It is quite a strenuous walk although it looks like Maphelane is “just over there”. Make sure to take some fluids along when taking this walk.
Driving to Maphelane takes about an hour and a half as there is no short easy road to get there. The road into Maphelane, after the Maphelane turnoff from the N2, is an adventurous one. It can only be accessed with a 4×4 vehicle. Passing swamps, forests and banana plantations, you finally get to the beach. There is an entrance fee and gate times are from 05:00 – 19:00 in Summer (1 October – 31 March) and 06:00 – 18:00 in Winter (1 April – 30 September).
The beach constitutes rock pools, reefs and a shallow bay which is perfect for swimming and snorkelling during low tide. Please be aware that there are no shark nets and swimming is done at your own risk.
There is also a curio shop for basic necessities and Maphelane Ski Boat Club if you would like to have some lunch.
Ski boat and surf fishing is permitted at Maphelane. You must however be in the possession of a valid skippers and fishing license.
There is a short self-guided walking trail leading to a viewsite on the dune. Walking at an easy pace, Umphafa Trail takes approximately two hours to complete.
Estuary beach is accessible from the Estuary Boardwalk, near the Sugarloaf Campsite in St Lucia. Access to the beach from Beach Road has recently been closed due to rehabilitation activities at the mouth. Although the mouth is still closed, bird life has increased significantly over the past few months and the hope is that the mouth will open soon. Please be careful when visiting Estuary Beach as hippos and crocodiles may roam the area. Swimming is NOT allowed at this beach.
iNgwe Beach, Jabula Beach and Main Beach is accessible via Beach Road and is situated north from Estuary Beach. There is ample parking space and well kept bathrooms available.
Swimming is allowed at these beaches, but please note that there are no shark nets and life guards on duty, so swimming is entirely at your own risk. These beaches are within walking distance, about 2km from St Lucia town. Alcohol is not permitted on the beaches.
Fishing is permitted on these beaches, but a valid fishing permit must be obtained from the Post Office. Please note the fishing regulations that apply. You can view them here.
Access to these beaches are free of charge.
Mission Rocks is a popular stop in iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Entering Bhangazi Gate on the Eastern Shores of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Mission rocks is about a 16km drive from St Lucia. There is an entrance fee and gate times are from 05:00 – 19:00 in Summer (1 Novermber – 31 March) and 06:00 – 18:00 in Winter (1 April – 31 October).
There is a picnic site, a lookout point and well kept bathrooms available. The rocky shores of Mission Rocks boast rock pools filled with marine life during low tide. North of the rock pools is a breathtaking stretch of beach. Fishing is permitted here, but please note the Park’s fishing regulations. About 2km north of the rock pools, is Bats’ Cave, a cave inhabited by Egyptian Fruit Bats that have been there for generations. Please do not attempt this walk during high tide or when the tide is coming in. Bats’ Cave can only be reached during low tide and only for a short period of time.
CAPE VIDAL BEACH
Further north, about 35km from St Lucia is Cape Vidal. To get to Cape Vidal you enter Bhangazi Gate on the Eastern Shores of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. There is an entrance fee and gate times are from 05:00 – 19:00 in Summer (1 Novermber – 31 March) and 06:00 – 18:00 in Winter (1 April – 31 October).
Cape Vidal is a popular fishing and holiday destination. Ski boat and surf fishing is permitted at Cape Vidal. You must however be in the possession of a valid skippers and fishing license.
The camp features camp sites and log cabins nestled amongst the dune forests of the beach. Red duiker, Bushbuck, Vervet monkeys, Samango monkeys and the occasional Hyena are common residents at Cape Vidal.
During low tide, the reef is perfect for snorkelling and swimming. However, the currents at Cape Vidal are strong and there are no shark nets and life guards on duty, so please be careful.
There are well kept bathrooms available, a small fuel station as well as a small curio shop for necessities.
On the way to and from Cape Vidal are loops that provide for magnificent game viewing. Picnic sites and lookout points are accessible all along the route. Wildlife such as Elephant, Kudu, Zebra, Hyena, Baboons, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard to name a few can be spotted.