St Lucia is a small holiday town on the Elephant Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. It acts as the gateway to iSimangaliso Wetland Park, one of the largest parks in South Africa, renowned for its wildlife safaris, diverse ecosystems, hippo and crocodile cruises on the estuary, and untamed wilderness that draws travellers from far and wide for a relaxing bush escape.
St Lucia lies at the southernmost entrance to iSimangaliso Wetland Park (formerly known as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park), stretching from Cape St Lucia in the south to Kozi Bay in the north. The little town of St Lucia is a fantastic tourist hub for the park and offers a variety of accommodation, restaurants, supermarkets, coffee shops, and tourist shops. It’s a great place to stop for seafood.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park is South Africa’s third largest park, covering 280km of coastline, and was the first South African park to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. It is made up of a variety of different ecosystems, such as fresh water pans, lake systems, mangrove and reed swamps, marshland, coastal dunes, coral reefs, beaches, and coastal forests. There is an abundance of wildlife with notably more species than the larger Kruger National Park, including monkeys, duiker, hippo, turtle, crocodile, black rhino, leopard, 36 species of amphibian, and over 530 species of birds. Activities in the park include kayak safaris, horse riding, game safaris, as well as crocodile, hippo, and whale cruises. Hike the 3-day Mziki Trail, 3-hour Iphiva Trail, or walk the 1.5km circular Igwala Gwala Forest Trail.
St Lucia Beach boasts golden sand that stretches as far as the eye can see in both directions. As the area enjoys almost 300 days of sunshine a year and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, the beach is a great recreational area for swimming, walks, volleyball, and sun tanning. However, be aware of rip currents. During the month of November, leatherback turtles march across the beaches to lay their eggs and whales frequent the waters from June to September. The area is also popular for fishing, with opportunities for surf, kite, fly, spear, and deep sea fishing.
Other attractions in St Lucia include the Chane Cheese Farm, Veyane Cultural Village, and the Crocodile Centre which offers feeding demonstrations and a variety of African and exotic crocodiles. Isiphaphalazi Butterfly Dome has butterflies indigenous to the local Dukuduku coastal forest as well as hiking trails, a tea garden, and a nursery selling butterfly attracting plants.
There is summer rainfall from December to February, but with 300 days of sunshine, you can be confident in booking your St Lucia accommodation for any time of the year.