A tiny scoop in the Zululand Coast, SODWANA BAY is the only breach in an almost flawless strand extending 170km from St Lucia to Kosi Bay. It’s the fortuitous convergence of the bay (which makes it easy to launch boats), with the world’s southernmost coral reefs that makes Sodwana the most popular base in the country for scuba diving and the most popular KZN Wildlife resort. Because the continental shelf comes extremely close to shore (near-vertical drops are less than 1km away), it offers very deep waters, much loved by anglers who gather here for some of South Africa’s best deep-sea game fishing, mostly tag and release. The abundance of game fish also makes for some of the best surf fly-fishing in the country.

When there’s no one around, Sodwana Bay is paradise, with tepid waters, terrific sandy beaches, relaxed diving and snorkelling, and plenty of accommodation. Over weekends and during school holidays, however, fashion-conscious Jo’burgers tear down in their 4WDs, while thick-set anglers from Gauteng, Free State and Mpumalanga come here and drink themselves into a stupor. Thankfully, government regulations now limit the number of 4WDs using the beach as a car park. A gentler presence from mid-November to February are the leatherback and loggerhead turtles, who make their way onto Sodwana’s beaches to reproduce, as they’ve been doing for the last 60,000 years.

The national park takes in the bay itself, while the desultory collection of shops and an upmarket lodge that pass for the town are 8km to the west, back along the Mbazwana road.