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Margate Beach has been a best-loved KwaZulu-Natal coastal destination for nearly 90 years. Cheekily described as a seaside suburb of Johannesburg, city dwellers flock to its shores in their thousands – each year Margate piles on more fun activities for visitors.

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Margate Beach is the sort of beach where someone will offer to help set up your umbrella, invite you to a game of volleyball or catch hold of your over-excited toddler who’s making a beeline straight for the surf – it’s a family kind of place.

Loved for its picture-postcard tropical scenery of coconut palms, grassy embankments, dunes and golden sand, Margate is a 1km-long holiday haven on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Jam-packed over Christmas, Easter and school holidays, avoid Margate if you hanker after a quiet sun spot to read a good book. But if swimming, bodyboarding, surfing, scuba diving, beach parties and festivals are your thing, then Margate is the beach for you.

All the usual Blue Flag facilities – ablutions, good water quality and lifeguards – are in place, with extensive shark netting to ensure safe bathing. A handy paved ramp leads to the promenade for those in wheelchairs or pushing prams.

Kids keep busy for hours in the water amusement park and swimming pools, or go rock-pooling and snorkeling before exploring Margate lagoon in paddle boats and canoes. The hip and happening crowd love to hang out in the restaurants, shops and outdoor cafés overlooking the beach before partying the night away in adjacent clubs and bars.

Water sports are a popular pastime on this KwaZulu-Natal South Coast beach. The pier is a favorite fishing spot, and from November game fishermen pursue schools of tunny, pike and yellowtail out to sea. Offshore of Margate Beach, many shark species congregate around the Protea Banks, a world-renowned dive site. Margate also offers plenty of swell and excellent surf breaks – perfect for surfers, bodyboarders and sea-kayakers.

Between May and July thousands of sharks, seabirds and bottlenose dolphins feast on millions of migrating sardines during the annual Sardine Run and humpback whales are spotted close to shore en route to their breeding grounds off Mozambique.