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Rocktail Bay

Rocktail Bay

South Africa’s northeastern corner harbors a destination gem in the exquisite Rocktail Bay. Pristine forest melds into preserved wetland which in turn yields to splendid ocean coastline. Clean undeveloped beaches are a special memory for each visitor.

Although not home to Africa’s traditional “big five” animals, Rocktail Bay claims its own “big five”: leatherback turtle, loggerhead turtle, palmnut vulture, Buitons skink, and Zululand cycad. Visitors spend their days snorkeling in the secluded bay of the Indian Ocean, diving from dive boats, fly-fishing in the wetlands, or taking nature walks through coastal forests and rolling grasslands. For the guest seeking relaxation, the beaches are the prized destination, from soaking up the sun to finding a spot for the perfect beach picnic.

One highlight of the region is Rocktail Bay’s annual turtle nesting and migration season (October-March), when the loggerhead and giant leatherback turtles make their way to the sand dunes. Community partners, conservation authorities, and ecotourism leaders have combined their efforts to preserve the beaches for these protected creatures. Nightly patrols keep the area safe for the turtles, and even guests are invited to help with the patrol giving them the opportunity to interact with guides, scouts, and research scientists. In the later part of the season, hatchlings make their way back down to the beach to begin their lives offshore.

Because of its outstanding, universal value to the world as part of the 1% of formally protected ocean, Rocktail Bay holds status as a World Heritage Site. It is situated in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, close to the offshore Maputaland Marine Reserve, in the northeastern part of the KwaZulu-Natal Elephant Coast. Conservation efforts, particularly for the endangered turtle populations, are an ongoing community effort.

Other popular activities in the region include nature drives around the coastal forest and hippo pools, exploratory birding, meandering the boardwalks, and snorkeling. One signature activity is a trip to Black Rock, a huge jutting rock that provides panoramic ocean views as well as opportunities to view sharks, rays, and turtles from the amazing vantage point. Rocktail Bay is also known for sightings of other amazing marine animals including humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, and whale sharks.

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