Discover Durban: An Insider’s Guide to South Africa’s Most Stylish City

When thinking of South Africa as a destination, safaris, spectacular scenery and sun-soaked coasts often come to mind. But as travel begins to open back up, it is high time to think outside the Big Five–although a little bit on that later. Taking a day or two to explore one of the country’s bustling major metropolises will uncover vibrant and well-connected urban centers. 

Often referred to as South Africa’s Miami Beach, the coastal city of Durban is blessed with year-round balmy weather and idyllic views of the Indian Ocean. Also known as ‘Surf City,’ the Bay of Plenty Beach along Durban’s Golden Mile is a popular surfing spot. While many travelers pass through on their way to visit the Kwazulu-Natal region, thanks to its luxury hotels, restaurants, bars and lounges Durban makes for a stylish stopover getaway.

An expert when it comes to style, no one is perhaps better suited to impart their local insider knowledge on some of the hottest places to visit in South Africa’s most stylish city than Laduma Ngxokolo

One of the country’s finest knitwear designers, since 2012, Ngxokolo has built a luxury heritage brand whose bold motifs are influenced by traditional South African Xhosa beadwork patterns, symbolism and colors. A graduate of the prestigious Central Saint Martins art school in London, his designs have graced runways in Paris, Oslo and Johannesburg. In 2015 he was awarded Vogue’s inaugural Scouting for Africa prize. 

Since the brand’s inception, Laduma has added his MAXHOSA BY LADUMA label that showcases the beauty and culture of the Xhosa people –a Nguni ethnic group whose homeland is primarily located within the modern-day Eastern Cape. Displayed and archived in the Smithsonian Museum and MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, his design work has also been exhibited internationally in Switzerland and Berlin. Most recently, they were prominently featured in Eddie Murphy’s latest film “Coming 2 America,” the sequel to the 1988 cult classic, “Coming to America.”

Here, Ngxokolo highlights some of his must-visit places around Durban.

Umhlanga Beaches

Umhlanga Beaches, just north of Durban along KwaZulu-Natal’s Sugar Coast are a haven for outdoor lovers and a popular spot with locals and visitors. The promenade that runs along the beach is always buzzing, and there are an array of nice cafes and bars, perfect for people watching and relaxing.

The Chairman

Designed by young Durban-based architecture firm DGiT to help shine a light on urban precinct The Point Waterfront, style-forward Jazz bar The Chairman boasts quirky décor, good food, an extensive wine and whiskey list, and a creative menu of cocktails. In addition to impeccable architecture and interior design, superb live music and sophisticated drinks, their in-house gallery also showcases work by local artists.

The Chairman

Umlazi Township

Located just south of the Durban Central Business District, Max’s Lifestyle is a restaurant in Umlazi, rich in township culture. Well-known for its braai (a regional South African variation of barbecue), here, locals and tourists mix and mingle in the lively open-air venue. Another popular nightlife hot spot in Umlazi is Eyadini Lounge. Also known for its mouthwatering braai and changing line-up of DJs that keeps the crowd dancing all night long.

      I called my brand MaXhosa by Laduma because I wanted to showcase the beauty of the Xhosa people and translate it in a modern way that appeals to the current youth.” – Laduma Ngxokolo

Max's Lifestyle

With strong links to his country’s cultural heritage, Ngxokolo’s striking high-fashion pieces and elegant homewares have captured the hearts of South Africans while also appealing to an international audience. His work evokes the beauty and style of one of the wildest and romantic places on earth.

For those interested in planning a trip to this diverse destination – perhaps combining a luxury safari bookended by some city time-respected tour operators Ker & Downey Africa offers custom and curated itineraries, including a 12-day cultural tour of South Africa and 17-day safari and beach experience to South Africa and Mauritius. Anyone not willing or able to hop on a plane just yet can transport themselves virtually thanks to WildEarth, who runs daily live safaris to top game reserves in South Africa, including Kruger National Park. For additional information visit

Images courtesy of Visit Durban, Laduma Ngxokolo and MAXHOSA Africa.

Keri Bridgwater

A native Brit, Keri Bridgwater spent time in house at magazines and publishers in Sweden, New Zealand and Telluride, Colorado before moving to San Diego over a decade ago. She specializes in travel stories, destination guides, hotel news, and profiles for various publications. Bylines in Fodor's, Marie Claire, Yoga Journal, London's Evening Standard, and Virgin Australia's inflight magazine. ...(Read More)

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