It’s summer holidays here in Sunny South Africa and, whilst our Northern Hemisphere mates will be freezing their behinds off over the festive period, we’re looking forward to sun, sea and summer cocktails…Yay!

Every year this time, my hometown of Durban welcomes throngs of holidaymakers from the Big Smoke and ex-pats coming home for Christmas, all eager to cast aside the workplace blues and soak up the sun and those chilled Surf City vibes. To help get you into that holiday mood, I’ve put together a list of my favourite cocktails spots in and around Durban. Dive right in!


A cool cocktail on a hot day? Yes, please!

Moyo’s on the Pier

This has to be the very best location in all of Durban – a cocktail bar perched right at the end of one of Durban’s famous piers. Rain or shine, Moyo’s on the Pier’s a spectacular spot, with views of the Golden Mile as it gently curves from the harbour up to Moses Mabhida Stadium and beyond. Sit back and watch surfers catch the waves or ships cruise in and out of Durban harbour, with the soothing sounds of African jazz playing in the background. Whether you’re a visitor or a local, just play along when the African beer pot comes around - it’s all good fun! Warning: expect to pay tourist prices, but that gorgeous view comes at a premium.

  • Go to: 1 Bell Street, uShaka Marine World, Durban.
  • Have the: Honey Bomb

Billy the B.U.M.S.

Somewhat of a Durban institution, summer hols wouldn’t be complete without a drinky-poos at Billy’s. This spot has a touch of the rugger-bugger about it – no surprises in a city which loves its rugby team, the Sharks, as much as the ocean itself. Find Billy the B.U.M.S in one of Morningside's characteristic colonial buildings.

  • Go to: 504 Lillian Ngoyi (Windermere) Road.
  • Have the: Dirty Sanchez

Beach Bums

You may have noticed Durbanites have a bit of a reputation for being beach bums with an affinity for the simple life and nowhere sums up that laid-back, surf-loving attitude more than the aptly-named Beach Bums. Note: when we say laid-back, we totally mean it. This is the kind of place you pull into in your board shorts and flip-flops. And don’t be put off by the non-too-salubrious entrance, it does get better…!

  • Go to: 65 Casuarina Beach, Tongaat
  • Have the: Mango Daiquiri or (if you’re feeling brave), Day at the Beach

Bud’s on the Bay

Hidden away in the heart of the Durban docks, Bud’s on the Bay is shebeen chic at its best – the perfect spot to hang out with mates and swap stories over long, lazy lunches. Once again, don’t be intimidated by its dodgy docklands approach – you’ll be delighted by what you find!

  • Go to: 30 Grunter Gully Street, Bayhead Road, Durban Harbour
  • Have the: Mule (jug of Sangria) or Donkey (jug of Margarita)

Zacks

Another superb venue – the edge of the yacht mole, where you can watch the rich and famous mooring their luxury boats, people pumping for prawns in the sand, little fishies over the side of the deck and, further down, huge container ships moving in and out of Durban harbour, ably guided by a pilot boat or helicopter. Stay for Zack’s own live music or have cocktails before (or after) taking in a show at the Catalina Theatre (proving that Durbanites can do culture and cocktails!).

  • Go to: Wilson’s Wharf, 14 Boatman’s Road, Durban
  • Have the: Zack’s Iced Tea

The Lighthouse Bar

Lest you think Durbanites can only slum it, the Lighthouse Bar proves that we can be classy and sophisticated, too! Named for the Umhlanga Lighthouse, that well-known red-and-white landmark a stone’s throw away, this elegant bar is situated on the rooftop of the graceful old Oyster Box Hotel and offers panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and a typically olde-worlde Natalian charm.

  • Go to: The Oyster Box Hotel, 2 Lighthouse Road, Umhlanga Rocks
  • Have the: Champagne cocktails

Parting Shot...

Yes, I drink the Zulu beer and have the face artwork done every, single time! I also have a designated driver when I get stuck into the Mojitos. You do the same - please don't drink and drive! Not only is it really, really dumb but Durban’s police officers will be out in force over the festive season applying a ZERO TOLERANCE approach. 

Me at Moyo's 

Had too much? Call:

Mozzie’s Cabs: Durban’s number one taxi service – 0860 669943

Goodfellas: They’ll drive you home in your own car – 0861 433 552.