Last updated on Aug 28th, 2018 at 11:21 am

KwaZulu-Natal’s St Lucia may be a small town, but it has become a hotspot for eco-tourism, thanks to its prime location and gorgeous setting

It offers coastal dunes, beautiful beaches, intriguing wetlands and marshes, a charming town and spectacular wildlife. This part of the Elephant Coast is just perfect for families, friends and honeymooning couples who are looking for a destination that is exciting, fun and visually gorgeous.

Even if you’re not spending much time in St Lucia, there’s plenty to do and see here. In fact, you may decide to extend your stay.

Things to do if you only have one day in St Lucia:

1. Horse riding

There are a few service providers that offer horse safaris or thrilling horse rides on the beach. The Bhangzi Horse Safaris can take riders through the reserve just outside the iSimangaliso Wetland Park to see zebra, rhino, hippo, Cape buffalo and many other exciting species. This is an ideal way to enjoy the fauna and flora of KwaZulu-Natal in a different and exciting way… and being on the back of a horse (probably) means that you can get away faster if a hippo decides to make your acquaintance.

2. St Lucia Crocodile Centre

This is for the whole family. Check out croc displays where you can learn more about these prehistoric-looking predators, visit the largest African crocodile (the Nile crocodile, which looks docile but totally shouldn’t be messed with) in its natural habitat, see tiny hatchlings and dwarf crocodiles in the ponds, and visit the well-stocked curio shop. There are also some trails through the centre and adjacent game park, if you’re keen to see some of the other awesome wildlife species of the area (including hippopotamus and wildebeest).

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3. Take a boat on the St Lucia estuary

Home to more than 800 hippopotamuses and 1 200 Nile crocodiles, this estuary is incredible to explore from the safety of a boat and makes for picture-perfect backdrops to your Instagram stories. The birdlife here is equally impressive and includes the pink-backed pelican, whiskered tern, African fish eagle, grey-headed gull, lesser flamingo, black heron, African pygmy goose, African grass owl and marsh owl. The estuary is about 85 kilometres long and, at its widest point, 22 kilometres wide, making it the country’s largest estuarine system. You can also explore it from a kayak if you insist on being fit and active while on holiday!


4. Go diving at Sodwana Bay

Any experienced scuba diver knows that Sodwana Bay is the local Mecca for clear waters and amazing marine life. But, even if you’re not a qualified diver, it’s fantastic for snorkelling, turtle tours and fishing. It is part of iSimangaliso Wetland Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and has loads of natural pools that are only around two metres deep at high tide, making them perfect for snorkelling. Qualified scuba divers can look forward to seeing turtles, colourful coral, stingrays, dolphins, tropical fish and occasionally even a mammoth whale shark.

5. Igwala Gwala Forest Trail

If you have little ones with energy to burn, or you’re after some fresh air and greenery, this trail is ideal. It is only 1,5 kilometres long and easy to tackle, but the utter fairy-tale beauty is what sets it apart. As you explore this coastal forest, look out for duikers, vervet monkeys, scrub robins, Narina trogons and bushbuck along the way. This trail is free of charge, and you can bring your dog along (provided it stays on a leash).

Other fun things to do and see in St Lucia

Of course, this list is nowhere near exhaustive. During your day in St Lucia, you can also explore these:

  • St Lucia Beach
  • Isiphaphalazi Butterfly Dome
  • Chané Cheese Farm
  • Cape St Lucia Lighthouse
  • Veyane Cultural Village
  • St Lucia Art and Craft Market