Richards Bay is considered to be the industrial and tourism centre of the area and occupies 37% of the total 796sq/km municipal area. With a population of 50 000 Richards Bay is situated 180km NE of Durban on the coast.
Richards Bay began its existence as a small fishing town and flourished with the development of the Port of Richards Bay, the country's deepest and largest port, in 1976. It has been earmarked by the Government as one of the countries growth and development points, and through Richards Bay / Empangeni Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) will attract a great deal of new investment. Richards Bay is already home to some of the countries most productive and lucrative industries.
Richards Bay as a tourist destination
Richards Bay's resounding success is owed to thoughtful town planning and stringent nature conservation principles. This has ensured the industry; tourism and nature co-exist in harmony. The town and its surrounds have vast expanses of untouched indigenous vegetation, and many natural lakes and marshes, making it one of the most picturesque tourist destinations in the country. The town boasts an abundance of wildlife, including leopards, hippos, crocodiles and monkeys. Over 300 species of birds can be spotted in and around town, making it a bird watchers paradise. A crocodile sanctuary situated along the N2 Highway at the Mposa turn off, offers a close up look at these cunning reptiles. Humpback dolphins and whales frequent visits the Richards Bay waters and can be viewed from a specially erected viewing point at Alkantstrand Beach. The Enseleni Nature Reserve, which is home to wildebeest, zebra, reedbuck and other small mammals, offers hiking trails that take visitors through the Zululand bushveld, and along the banks of the Nseleni River.
Richards Bay is a sporting enthusiasts' haven. The all year round summer and warm Indian Ocean make an ideal training environment. The protected beaches, the Tuzi Gazi Waterfront and the bay area serve as a water sports playground. Over weekends vibrant buzz echoes the shores as all kinds of vessels take to the water, providing pleasant entertainment for those basking in the sun or relaxing in the cool shade of the Casuarina trees. The roads and cycle tracks are accustomed to dedicated padding of local joggers and walkers, and cyclists zooming about are a common phenomenon. The local country club boasts a magnificent 18-hole championship golf course situated on the banks of Lake Mzingazi. The breath taking sceneries and unexpected visits from local hippos, crocodiles, monkeys and fish eagles complement this challenging course.
For those who prefer working out indoors there is a fully equipped modern franchised health gym. The numerous public swimming pools are ideal for serious training or simply for cooling down.
A large variety of shops in the CBD offer all of the modern day convenience and services that we all take for granted. Businesses are always prepared to go the extra mile and visitors can look forward to excellent friendly service. Entertainment facilities include cinemas, games rooms, pubs, restaurants and coffee shops. The modern shopping centres have everything you need under air-conditioned roofs, making shopping a pleasure. The community's healthcare needs are taken care of by the caring and competent doctors at the Medicross clinic and Netcare's Bay Hospital. Visitors have a wide selection of accommodation to choose from, depending on their budgets and requirements.
One of Richards Bay's greatest assets is its people. The community is made up of many different cultures, each of which play an important role in enhancing the town's character. Visitors are encouraged to experience these cultures first hand, and local tour guides offer cultural tours to Esikhawini, Nseleni, Ngwelezane and Vulindlela.
Richards Bay is centrally situated and serves as a perfect base when exploring Zululand. Zululand is rich in diversity and is the ideal holiday destination where nature lovers can explore the internationally acclaimed game reserves and visit spectacular wetlands, outdoor and sporting enthusiast can take advantage of the sub-tropical climate, endless beaches and abundant water bodies and cultural and heritage seekers can visit the Zulu cultural villages, museums and markets.
How to get there
SA Express (035 786 0301) conduct daily flights between Richards Bay and Johannesburg.
The two main feeder roads to Richards Bay are the N2 highway from Durban (South) and Pongola (North), and the R34 from Vryheid and Melmoth (West). The condition of the roads between towns ranges from average to adequate, and road signage is in accordance with international codes.
The Greyhound Bus (035 792 1283) runs between Richards Bay and most major centres.
Richards Bay is the first port of call with world-class facilities for vessels coming from the east. The Zululand Yacht Club (035 788 0256) and the Tuzi Gazi Moorings (035 788 0031) cater for the international yachting fraternity.
Distances from Richards Bay
- Mtunzini - 40km
- Gingindlovu - 60km
- St Lucia - 80km
- Empangeni - 20km
- Durban - 180km
- Hluhluwe - 90km
- Eshowe - 80km
- Mtubatuba - 50km
- Ulundi - 155km
- Sodwana - 210km
Climate conditions are typically subtropical to tropical. The average daily temperature in summer is 28 degrees C and in winter 22 degrees C. The humidity levels tend to be very high and the annual rainfall is 1200mm.
Weather Reports: Local Weather 082 231 1605
Surf Conditions 082 231 1610
Ski Boat & Sailing Conditions 082 231 1607
Shopping and service facilities
There are ample 24-hour service stations in the area with 24-hour convenience stores.
Business hours are usually from 08h00 to 16h00 on weekdays and 98h00 to 12h00 on Saturdays. Many shopping malls and supermarkets maintain longer business hours and are open on Sundays too.
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Health and medical
Richards Bay boasts excellent medical practitioners and a first class private hospital.
The Travel Doctor Richards Bay (035 789 6172) can be contacted for any travel related health issues.
RICHARDS BAY IS A LOW RISK MALARIA AREA. The following steps should be taken when visiting areas north of St. Lucia.
- Avoid mosquito bites. Between dusk and dawn dress in long sleeves, trousers and shoes. Apply the appropriate insect repellent to exposed skin every 4 hours. If accommodation is not screened, insecticide-impregnated bed nets should be used
- Diagnose and treat malaria promptly
- Use prevention anti-malaria drugs
- Contact the Travel Doctor for individualised and appropriate medication
Safety and security
Although the majority of the population is peace loving, one needs to maintain awareness levels and practice self-security measures. Visitors are asked to be alert at all times. Contact uMhlathuze Tourism Office (035 753 3909) for hints and advice in this regard.