Kosi Bay – Escape to Paradise
Kosi Bay offers a breath-taking landscape, untouched and unique ecosystems. This diverse coastal area that is known for its natural beauty makes Kosi Bay a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best of what South Africa has to offer.
Attracting adventurers from all over the world who flock to the North-eastern shores of Kwazulu-Natal to enjoy the warm Indian Ocean weather, looking to relax on the beach, explore the natural world, or learn about traditional cultures, this stunning coastal area has it all, and… the fact that not many know about it…makes it your very own personal paradise.
The Kosi Bay Mouth
One of the most popular attractions in Kosi Bay is the Kosi Bay Mouth. This estuary, where the Kosi River meets the ocean, is one of the most unique natural phenomena in South Africa. The area is home to a series of interconnected lakes and channels, which are separated from the ocean by a narrow strip of sand. Adventurers can explore the area by staying at one of the many accommodation offerings ranging from rustic to 5 stars and there is even the option of staying within the reserve when booking through Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
Kosi Bay Accommodation Offerings
You can either do it alone or, you can take a guided tour but, for the African Travel Bird crew, we love nothing more than an adventure and immersing ourselves in the area we’re exploring. Going it alone!
Kosi Bay Accommodation Booking
As we’ve mentioned, there are quite a few accommodation options in the area. We’ve had the pleasure of staying at Kosi Forest Lodge, Kosi Bay Lodge as well as Kosi Bay Nature Reserve and who knows, maybe there is a blog in there for each soon but for now, we wanted to concentrate more on the area.
We can highly recommend any one of the above. Kosi Forest Lodge is a luxury lodge offering comfortable chalets, fine dining, and expansive views of the lake systems. Kosi Bay Lodge, although set back a bit from the water’s edge has a more laid-back feel offering chalets, a restaurant and pool area where you can comfortably stroll barefoot and fancy-free. Staying within the reserve which does sometimes prove to be more cost-effective if you’re on a budget can be difficult to book and it’s advisable to book in advance to ensure availability, especially during peak season. Whatever your accommodation choice, you will find it and you will have the best stay in this beautiful setting.
We recommend also looking into Blue Horizon Kosi Bay, Kosi Bay Casitas, and Teba Rest Camp as accommodation options. All of these have come highly recommended to us and although we’ve yet to stay here, we cannot wait to visit them. Watch this space to give you all the information.
Kosi Bay and The road there
Flying in? Road-tripping ?? … make this a destination.
From Johannesburg to Kosi Bay
If you’re road-tripping from Johannesburg, the town of Kosi Bay can be reached via the N17 and N2 Highway and is about 590km in distance. According to Google you’re looking at approximately an eight-and-a-half or nine-hour trip.
From Durban to Kosi Bay
If you’re coming from Durban like us, it usually takes about 5 to 6hrs on the N2 and then the R22. Remember, we drive an old Landy and a Suzuki Jimny, the going is slow. There are quite a few speed bumps that sneak up on you as they are not always clearly marked and driving on the R22, you need to be cautious of cows, goats and people crossing the road.
The closest airport to Kosi Bay as far as we know is King Shaka International Airport where you can rent a vehicle or, if you’ve booked a guided tour with a driver, you can be collected here.
Although we wouldn’t necessarily say Kosi Bay is a remote area difficult to reach, we do recommend a 4×4 vehicle if you really want to explore and get around. Some of the roads can be a bit challenging and driving a vehicle not fit for the terrain will have you missing out.
Kosi Bay Shopping Advice
Buying supplies in the town of Kosi Bay is not recommended. We suggest doing your shop in one of the major cities before hitting the road. You can buy the basics and yes, there is a large supermarket in Kosi Bay but it can get incredibly busy and parking is scarce especially if you’re towing a boat. This is a small rural town and if you’re expecting the variety you would normally get in the larger towns/cities, you are going to be disappointed.
Wanting to take something home from your travels? We like to check out the street stall at the Total Garage which is also the best place to park your boat if you’re towing. You can find a collection of African arts and crafts here. Personally, we love the crafted fish and always end up taking one or two home with us.
Bait, fishing gear, and swimming paraphernalia can be bought at one of the small vendors also to be found at the Total Garage. This is where the Man opts to buy his bait so that we don’t need to travel with it from Durban.
Wood can be bought in town or, if you want to support one of the locals (which we think is the cool thing to do) we recommend taking a drive towards one of the resorts and you’ll find someone selling wood alongside the road. First and foremost, be respectful of the environment and the local communities when shopping and visiting the area…
Fishing in the Kosi Bay Area
Keen fisherman like the Man? Then this is where your eyes need to be…
Kosi Bay is renowned for its abundance of fish species which includes some of the biggest game fish in the world!
- Giant Trevally,
- Grunter as well as many other species such as
- Rock Salmon and
- Bream can be found in the waters in this area and let’s be honest, one of the biggest draw cards for most of the visitors venturing to this spot.
The estuary system which comprises of four interconnected lakes, namely Makhawulani, Pungwini, KuNhlange, and Amanzimnyama provides an ideal habitat for a variety of fish species which draws in game fishermen as well as fly fishermen alike. Each lake has its own unique characteristics and offers different fishing opportunities.
The Kosi Bay Lake System
Makhawulani and MPungwini are connected and form the largest lake in the system which is known as Kosi Bay.
This lake is the most popular among fishermen and….women (gasp, we nearly forgot about the ladies there)
Fishing can be enjoyed throughout the year but, it does get incredibly hot and uncomfortable at Kosi Bay thus we personally prefer the months from June to October when it doesn’t sizzle too much but, there’s always a dip to be had in the crystal clear waters if you get too hot but be wary of the hippo!
Fishing can be done from shore or from a boat and the mouth of the lake system where the tides flow in and out proves best for shore fishing. Fishing from a boat does provide access to deeper waters but, if you don’t have a boat, it’s not a problem as there are still many great fishing opportunities.
It’s important to note that Kosi Bay is a protected area and a World Heritage site so, it’s important to follow the fishing regulations in the area such as what type of fishing gear is allowed, what permits are required, and what times you may catch certain species and the catch limits.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice anger, there’s something to keep you ‘hooked’ in the Kosi Bay waters.
Activities in and around the Kosi Bay area
Explore the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve
A protected area and home to hippos, crocodiles, and a vast array of flora and bird species. this can be explored on foot by hiking the various trails or by boat. The Kosi Bay Trail takes you through the wetlands as well as sand dunes of the reserve. You can take a guided tour which we highly recommend or, explore it alone…
Snorkelling and Scuba Diving
The mouth of Kosi Bay is a firm favourite among many snorkelling enthusiasts as it has a coral bed that is home to fish species of all shapes, sizes, and colours. You do however need to be careful as placing your feet on the bed is damaging to the coral, destroying the habitat of the creatures that call this place home. Also, you do not want to place your foot on the Devil Firefish as it will abruptly end ‘the good times’.
Take a Cultural Tour
The local Tsonga community has a rich cultural history that you can explore on a guided tour to learn more about their traditions, food, and crafts. Also known as the Shangaan people, the community has a close relationship with their natural environment and have historically been fishermen, relying on the Kosi Bay estuary for their livelihoods. The Tsonga people have developed a deep understanding of the estuary, and its inhabitants and have developed sustainable fishing practices that have allowed them to live in harmony with the environment for centuries. Cruising the lakes and seeing their fishing kraals brings about a sense of peace and order and we would highly recommend a tour as it will give you a deeper understanding of the area.
There are several game reserves within driving distance of Kosi Bay and although we have yet to visit Tembe Elephant Park, we have only heard good things said and will definitely add this to our list of places to visit. The park is situated in a sand forest which is a unique ecosystem characterised by its sandy soil and dense tree cover. The sand forest is home to a variety of rare and endangered plant species including sand aloes which can grow up to 15 meters tall. The park covers an area of about 300 square km and is home to a large herd of elephants hence the name Tembe which is Swahili for elephant.
See the Kosi Bay Turtles Nesting and Hatching
If you visit Kosi Bay during the months of November and March you may just be lucky enough the witness the amazing spectacle of turtles nesting and hatching on the beaches. This is truly an unforgettable experience and once again, it’s a highly recommended activity. Speak to your accommodation providers and have them book this for you in advance, if possible, as only a limited number of people can go out on viewings at a time.
RATING: This is one of our favourite spots and it will always get a 10 out of 10 for us.