Only a 10 minute drive from King Shaka International Airport, Salt Rock is named after the salt deposits collected at low tide by King Shaka's Zulu maidens. Its beaches with warm water & tidal pools make for a great family vacation. Don't miss Granny's Pool for the kids (after we discovered this we didn't go anywhere else), the main beach for surfing, Saffron's for Indian cuisine, the Waterberry Tea Garden for desserts, and the Salt Rock Hotel's restaurant for its views. In terms of proximity to the beach, the Salt Rock Hotel is a good choice for where to stay.
The town is situated in the KwaDukuza Municipality; which is also home to Ballito, Blythedale Beach, Darnali, Mathonsi, Qwabe, Shaka's Rock, Shakaskraal, Stanger, Tinley Manor Beach and Zinkwazi Beach.
Salt Rock's main beach has 2 flags indicating the spot to swim. It's advertised as having lifeguards, but this wasn't always the case when we were there. The sand is slightly coarser than in Cape Town, and browner. Of course the water is much warmer than the west coast's icy cold seas. There was a shore-break, which was great fun to play in, but one needs to keep a close eye on little ones, as it has a strong backwash. There were a number of surfers further out. The beach has shark nets.
Once we had discovered "Granny's Pool" we didn't go to the main beach anymore, or the other tidal pool. Granny's Pool is a shallow tidal pool, which at its deepest came up to my waist. About half of it has a sandy bottom, with rocks on the other half. Waves break on the rocks at the sea end, delighting the kids with the ripples that come through the pool (if you don't like that, then come at low tide).
Opposite the caravan park there's a massive tidal pool, with a lookout turret at its end. The caravan park is a great place to stay, as it's so close to the sea. Here's a photo of the tidal pool from Salt Rock Hotel, which is perched above the caravan park:
The views from an ocean-facing room at the Canelands Beach Club wont let you down - if you're any closer to the beach you'd better get your towel out! Unless you like the sound of people stacking cutlery, avoid the room with a door into the dining room! Enjoy the pool, from which you can step down onto the beach.
In terms of positioning and view, the Salt Rock Hotel is the best spot to stay in the area. It has views of the sea, and it's a short walk down towards the tidal pools and the main beach. There's also a play area for the kids:
We stayed at the Fairways Boutique Hotel in Salt Rock near Durban, from the 29th March until the 7th April 2012. The hotel is a few minutes walk from the beach, which is further than I had pictured after reading on their website that it is "across the road from the main swimming beach" and seeing the photo of the beach - the hotel only has an obscure distant view of the sea. It does have some wonderful views of the hills, and they would do well to place more emphasis on that.
I loved our bathroom's spaciousness, enhanced by the bathroom itself and the shower having no door - great water pressure in the shower for me, but too much for the showerhead which proved quite fragile, and broke whilst I was adjusting it - but impressive that the hotel quickly replaced it without making an issue of it. The water pressure also proved too much for the drainage, with water ending up overflowing onto the bathroom floor if you took too long. It was not initially possible to use the pool, as the property is built on a steep slope and the recent rains had washed mud into the pool (by our 4th day there they'd managed to clear the pool).
One interesting incident was in the evening when I pulled back the covers of the bed and discovered the sheet hadn't been changed from the previous night - this wouldn't be an issue if it wasn't dirty - our kids had messed some food on it. There's nobody on duty in the evenings, so I phoned management and they made a plan for somebody to come over and change the sheet. Two ladies arrived and changed the sheets - what was a bit weird was that they didn't say a word to us, just wandered in, changed the sheets & ghosted out - it seem like the staff don't understand the need to be friendly or aren't motivated enough - I know there could be a language barrier, but surely learning to say "hello" isn't too much to ask.
I liked it that the Fairways Boutique Hotel offered free wifi, which helps us keep our business going whilst on the road carrying out travel reviews, but then it slowed down tremendously and regularly switched off, so I switched to my 3g card.
The electric plugs work the opposite way to normal - you have to turn them off for them to be on! I'm glad we figured this out before our curious 1-year-old!
The orange juice was very sweet, the cereal was ok, but on the first morning there was no bowl - after standing around for a while it took them a minute to get one.
We paid R8944 for 9 nights for 2 adults, 1 child & an infant - this was a special they were running on Groupon.
Although it's advertised as having "Dstv", our room only had MNET & 1 DSTV channel (& the usual SABC channels). It's not always clear what will be broadcast on the extra Dstv channel, and in fact I was busy watching a movie when suddenly the DSTV was tuned in to a different channel.
Directions to Fairways Hotel from King Shaka Airport
Go North on N2 from the airport and take exit 214 (Salt Rock). Go right over the freeway and follow the road all the way down to the beach. After Salt Rock Hotel on your left turn right into Fairway Drive. Fairways Boutique Hotel are the first property on the left.
The Beach House was originally a fishing cottage. There are 3 old fashion-sized bedrooms which sleep 7 people.
The Salt Rock Hotel's restaurant has the best view of the sea. It also has an outdoor play area for the kids, with a jungle gym, slides, monkey bars and swings. Sadly, the toasted cheese, egg, tomato & chips - whilst very tasty - didn't agree with my stomach.
Foodwise, Saffron, an Indian Restaurant on the way into Salt Rock, gets my vote for the best cuisine. It had a simple meal - beans & cheese on toast - absolutely delicious. Although the Mrs found her curry a bit hot. I clumsily knocked a glass and the staff were friendly about it, and quickly cleaned up.
Al Fresco's Ristorante is across the road from the beach, with a partial view of the sea. It has mostly pizzas (I enjoyed the Formaggio) & pastas on its menu, and happily chicken fingers (which our daughter loved).
The Waterberry Tea Garden is a must visit - their fridge cake is delicious, and there's a large garden/forest to go for walks in whilst you wait for you food to arrive (service is slow). There's a play area for the kiddies, which included supervised beading, with the kids getting to keep their creation. The Mrs thinks the Waterberry Tea Garden has the best cuisine, and I agree with her from the perspective of the desserts.
We were going to visit Siggis German Restaurant, until they left a flyer on our car which only showcased alcoholic drinks (I'm a teetotaler) & meat dishes (I'm a vegetarian).
We never got a chance to visit The Litchi Orchard, which runs a market on the first and third Saturday of each month, with a food and an art market.
Flag Animal Farm was a wonderful experience for the kids. The highlights were the baby pigs wandering around & looking to be fed, a large red-headed sheep, the jumping castle, the pony rides (our 16-month-old went on his first ride) & holding a baby rabbit. Note that cellphone reception isn't great - I wanted to do some online trading whilst sitting at the tea garden, but there wasn't enough steam (tried my 3G card, Blackberry and Sony Ericsson to no avail).
They have a small variety of toasted sandwiches, chips and drinks available at the tea garden.
Feb 2011. Cristi & Pierre get married at Salt Rock Hotel. Click through the link to see the fabulous clickies by Jacki Bruni Quel.
23 Feb 2012. Carnell describes the tidal pool at Salt Rock beach, as composed of a demolished fort. Having just stayed at The Point Hotel in Mossel Bay, and loved their tidal pool, this makes me want to go to Salt Rock even more.
Feb 2011. Helen meets an online buddy at Salt Rock. She describes it as "rather idyllic", and it looks it too from the photos she took.
July 2011. A 164m long bulk freighter, the Phoenix, runs aground in Salt Rock.