Africa for 5 – Family travel to Africa – Destination Durban

If you are looking for sun swept beaches that extend into the horizon South Africa has 1,600 miles of coast with both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.  We stayed on the coast for a week of fun and sun, it was incredible.  Family travel to Africa can be a wonderful experience.

How to get there:

We flew into South Africa via Johannesburg then took a flight from JNB to Durban.  From Durban we rented a car and ended up in a small ocean front town an hour south called Scottsburgh.  The roads were great, but make sure you have coins as there is a toll directly outside of the airport that accepts only coins.  Luckily for us a motorist behind us helped out as we didn’t have any coins at all.  Driving through Durban can have a lot of traffic so if possible plan accordingly to avoid it.

Where to stay:

Our goto site AirBnB got us a nice place called the Pearly Shells that had a kitchen with plenty of room for the family at an affordable rent.  Although it was a bit dated, we enjoyed the stay and felt secure.  It is recommended anywhere in South Africa to lock your valuables in the safe while gone and we always keep our passports on us when we go anywhere.

The vista from our porch at the Pearly Shells Holiday Flats.

What to do:

If you like the ocean this is the place for you.  There were MILES of untouched beach.  It is recommended due to safety concerns not to spend time on desolate beaches so we tended to stay at the beach in town.  Surfing, swimming, tide-pooling, and sunbathing became the afternoon tradition.

Shark Cage Diving KZN

My wife has what I consider a sick perversion to really want to swim with sharks.  She did it once in Australia and we checked out Shark Cage Diving KZN to see if they had any opportunities.  Sure enough they had a group that she, alongside my 11 year old son, could go do some cage diving.
The beach head was a few miles south of town but the entire crew was EXTREMELY welcoming and friendly.  After a safety brief, donning of wetsuits they were off in a boat while the other kids and I went tide-pooling.
Their report was that it was fantastic.  They saw a ton of sharks, got to spend a lot of time in the water and all the guides and staff were super helpful and accommodating.

uShaka Aquarium World

During a rainy day we headed back up to Durban to checkout the uShaka Aquarium World.  Turns out its an aquarium and a waterpark which seems like an interesting combo.  We opted for just the aquarium and started browsing.  We were interested in this aquarium specifically as they are doing a lot of work to help the penguin population in South Africa rebound and continue.  They had a great presentation with the penguins that the kids really liked.  Other than that it was a bit of a let down, there was not a lot to see and the costs of entry seemed like a lot for what you actually got to see.  We also had the singular experience of eating in the park.  It was the first time that I have been unable to eat food that I ordered.  We ordered a round of hamburgers from one of the restaurants and whatever the meat was, or what they put in it, made it inedible.  That was quite surprising to us because before then all the meat we had eaten in South Africa had been notably good!  For us Shaka Aquarium would be a pass in the future or as a recommendations.

 Croc World

Just 1km from our house was Croc World.  After reading about it and seeing their conservation efforts we thought it would be fun to see.  It did not disappoint! They have a TON of crocs just as the name implies.  They have a bunch of presentations including dangerous snakes, croc feeding, baby croc handling, and snake safety.  Each presentation was unique and engaging.  Its a conservatory and we were happy to visit and would go back again!  There is a great restaurant onsite which has an incredible view of the Indian Ocean.  The kids really enjoyed getting to handle the baby croc and found the presentations engaging.  If nothing else we learned which snakes to be sure to avoid in South Africa!  They had a great snake exhibit and one of the largest crocs in captivity that had be relocated from a nearby village after attacking humans.

Destination Family Factor

Family travel to Africa in Durban and the surrounding area have a ton of things to do, and amazing coastlines, and friendly people. Food and shops were accessible, activities were close, and the beach was amazing.

A memorable  week in South Africa.

Travel Hack: there really is a free lunch with Priority Pass!

As we often travel with a family of 5 food costs in the airport can rack up quite quickly!  To try to keep our costs as low as possible we utilize the benefits of lounge access that we get from our premium card; American Express Platinum.  With the Amex Platinum card you can enroll for free in the Priority Pass program.  Priority Pass is a network of lounges across the world of over 1000 lounges and expanding weekly!

One of the newer perks with Priority Pass is that many of the new “lounges” are not actually lounges but restaurants.  Basically you get a $28-$36 dollar credit (depending on the restaurant) to be used towards your bill.  Even better you can sign in for 1 guest which gets you double that amount with out actually paying any money as it classified as a lounge visit..

How to use it

Because we travel as a family of 5, I added my wife as an authorized card holder on my Amex account which allows her own priority pass membership.  So for our family with 2 priority pass memberships we get the restaurant priority pass credit ($28-$36) multiplied by 4! We recently used this to have a pre trip lunch in Sydney, Australia and had a credit of $144AUD to spend.  To make things even better there was a restaurant outside security in Sydney so we used our Priority Pass there for breakfast while we waited for the check in desk to open, then again past security at a restaurant for lunch before boarding.  We saved over $200AUD in that day alone!

A lunch from Better Burgers for FREE!

Where to use it

The list grows weekly and I highly recommend downloading the app on your phone and keeping it up to date, you also can find lounges from their website.
Current restaurants as of this writing:

Domestic

  • PDX
    House Spirits Distillery
    Capers Cafe Le Bar
    Capers Market
  • DEN
    Timberline Steaks and Grille
  • MIA
    Corona Beach House
  • STL (St Louis)
    The Pasta House
    The Pasta House & Schlafly Brew House
  • LEX (Lexington KY)
    Kentucky Ale Taproom
  • MSP (Minneapolis)
    PGA MSP
  • JFK
    Bobby Van’s Steakhouse
  • CLE (Cleveland)
    Bar Symon

International

  • SYD (Sydney Australia)
    Better Burger
    Mach2
    Peroni Bar
    Bistro 2020
    MoVida
    Bar Roma
    Wok on Air
  • BNE (Brisbane Australia)
    Bar Roma
    Graze Grill and Bar
    Corretto Cafe & Bar
  • LGW (London Gatwick
    Grain Store Cafe & Bar
  • SIN (Singapore)
    The Green Market

The list continues to expand so make sure you update your app or check online and enjoy!

Better Burger in SYD

Travel Hack: the power of Google Flight Alerts

In order to keep our travel costs low we have to be forward thinking and planning to ensure we are getting the best prices possible on airline tickets. Knowing when to buy, recent fare changes, and fare trends can help keep the costs to a minimum.  We have utilized Google Flight Alerts to great success as a powerful online flight tracker.

Google Flights Alerts

Enter Google Flight Alerts.  You can easily track potential trips using Google’s powerful tool.

How to use it:

You need to have a google account and make sure you are logged in.

flights.google.com

Start a search for a flight with dates you are interested in and click the track flights tool.

Choose your flights then click the tracking tab near the bottom.

Monitor and buy when you are confident.

Examples

Here is a flight I am tracking from a client who would like to travel to Australia for holiday. As you can see the flight costs are somewhat consistent.  I can track and watch to see if there is a dip in price then use that info to buy and save money

Another example is some flights I have been tracking for another client for a multi stage journey to Madagascar, then Dublin, then USA.  This flight was much more unstable in prices and I was able to buy at what I knew was the best possible price.

You can track almost any type of flight including one way flights like this from Auckland to SFO

I have 40-50 flight alerts at any given time for future trips I would like to go on, trips I am tracking for clients, and dream trips that I could only afford if there is a mistake fare!  Keep in mind Google does not search ALL possible fares. Southwest is one of the major ones that will not show a price so double check your flights against Southwest before you buy.

Have you used Google Flight Alert to score a great deal?