How to best enjoy whale watching in Durban


The best time of year for whale watching in South Africa is between July and September. We look at where to spot whales near Durban.


05th July 2019

The Oyster Box

The waters off KwaZulu-Natal are home to a wealth of marine life, not least a healthy population of dolphins and whales. Whale watching in Durban ranks high among the area’s must-do activities. Meet migrating southern right whales between June and September and spot humpback and other species throughout the year. Perched upon the scenic stretch of Umhlanga Rocks, The Oyster Box is ideally placed for aquatic safaris, whether aboard a whale-watching boat or from the comfort of The Ocean Terrace.

When to go whale watching in Durban

Winter in South Africa is an exceptionally special season for wildlife lovers. Southern right whales migrate along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline each year between May and September, seeking out South Africa’s warm waters to escape the chill of Antarctica. During this season, sightings of the whales from Durban are common, and many locals holiday here to catch a glimpse of the captivating creatures.

Whale Watching Durban

Humpback whales arrive at the same time of year as the southern rights but stay for longer—usually until the end of November. This incredible mammal makes the longest migration of all the world’s animals, journeying 5,000km on average. Bryde’s, sperm and minke whales inhabit the region’s seas year-round. With such an incredible bounty of marine life, a number of dolphin and whale watching boat trips depart from Durban every day.

Unmissable whale experiences

Little beats the drama of witnessing whales breaching in their natural habitat, or spotting dolphins playing in the crests of the waves. Distinctive whale behaviours that can be observed include lobtailing, when a whale creates waves by slapping its tail on the water’s surface, and blowing, when an expulsion of breath from underwater spurts an immense mist of sea spray into the air.

Whale Watching Durban

For those wishing to stay dry, enjoy prime dolphin and whale watching from the luxurious comfort of The Ocean Terrace. Gazing out across the ocean, the restaurant offers a spectacular curry buffet as well as delicious fresh salads and wood-fired pizza.

Marine-based ecotourism

Selecting an ecologically responsible whale watching tour in Durban is imperative. Many operators seek to protect Durban’s sea life and empower local communities, and visitors who opt for a sustainable provider can contribute to the region’s long-term prosperity. Whale and Dolphin Tours are committed to hiring and training tour guides from disadvantaged communities and support the Whale Time project’s important research.

Whale Watching Durban

The good news is that since the closure of the world’s largest whaling station here in 1975, the number of humpback whales migrating this way has increased from 340 to 7,000 per year. The southern right population is thriving, too, increasing seven per cent last year. At the current rate, the southern right population is predicted to double in the next 10 years, positioning Durban as a premium whale watching destination.

Do your bit for nature while visiting Durban. Guests at The Oyster Box are encouraged to join in beach clean-ups. Empty buckets are handed out at reception and, once full, they can be traded in for a complimentary drink at the bar.

Stay at Red Carnation Hotels’ The Oyster Box to make the most of Durban’s remarkable whale watching opportunities.

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