“A wise traveller never despises his own country.” – William Hazlitt
What is it about Durban that keeps the masses flocking year in and year out? Is it the vast stretch of beaches on both the north and south coasts? Is it because it is home to the infamous bunny chow? Or maybe it is just Durban’s laid-back charm that draws us in and makes us never want to leave. Stick around while we take a closer look at the best time to visit Durban. You may just be planning a trip there sooner than you think.
Based on the weather, the best time to visit Durban would probably depend on your heat threshold. Durban experiences a humid sub-tropical climate with the warmer humid months from November to March, and the cooler drier months from June to September. With this said, the temperatures vary so little. Summer sees average temperatures of 28°C, but don’t be surprised if these numbers make their way into the 30s due to humidity. The summer rains are always welcomed at the end of an absolute scorcher during the hottest months of January and February. On average, winter days get as cool as 11°C. Thanks to Durban’s humidity, the bone-chilling factor is never as rife as experienced in the rest of the country. Snow-free and less humid days make winter the most temperate and best time to visit Durban.
Average temperature & rainfall in Durban
Summer (December – March)
Durban summer days can often be laced with extreme temperatures and humidity. Although Durban does not experience extreme temperate climate changes, summer technically kicks off in December and runs right through until mid-March, with the hottest (sometimes intolerable) days in February.
Summer generally means summer vacations and school holidays. This means that holidaymakers, in their droves, make their way to the east coast to sink their feet in the sand and frolic in the warm Indian Ocean. While this may sound tempting, over the Christmas and New Year period, you may only be able to secure yourself a tiny patch of beach amongst the madding crowds. If crowds are not your cup of tea but you still enjoy the warm summer days, then the best time to visit Durban would be early December or February when the crowds are at a minimum.
During summer you want to make sure you pack the essentials. Summer means afternoon showers, extremely hot sun, and humidity. Packing the wrong clothes is bound to cause some discomfort. Think light clothes, sunscreen to protect your skin and eyewear to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays. Here’s a list of essentials to guide you when packing for your summer holiday.
- Swimming costumes
- A hat and protective sunglasses
- Shorts, skirts, tops, t-shirts, and summer dresses
- Comfortable walking shoes
- An umbrella or light raincoat
- Good quality sunscreen
You may also like to check out Travelstart’s #Summergoals for Durban
Winter (June / July / August)
Does Durban actually experience winter? When it comes to the weather, the best time to visit Durban is undoubtedly the “winter” period. Joburgers can escape the icy winter and Capetonians the four seasons in one day. Experience all the city has to offer over the summer period sans the humidity and heavy showers. Sun, surf and swim will still be on the agenda with the odd day here and there for indoor relaxation. To be safe, it’s always a good idea to pack some winter warmers in addition to your summer attire, for those unexpected chilly days.
Essentials to pack
- Swimming costumes
- A hat, protective sunglasses, and sunscreen
- Shorts and long pants, and skirts,
- Tops, long-sleeved shirts and t-shirts, and summer dresses
- Comfortable walking shoes
- A jersey or a jacket
- A summer scarf
While Durban experiences a temperate climate with the seasons moving seamlessly into the next, the daylight hours are still affected by the seasons.
In summer the daylight hours range between 12.5 – 14 hours of sunlight, with sunrise starting at 04h48 and sunset at around 18h30.
In winter, one can expect daylight of about 10 – 11.5 hours with sunrise starting at around 06:15 and sunset as early as 17:03.
Sea Temperatures in Durban
If the weather is not a contributing factor to help you make your decision on the best time to visit Durban, the mere fact that the ocean is of swimmable temperatures all year round might be. The ocean temperatures are warmest during the summer months ranging from 25°C to 27°C in February. During the colder months, the temperatures drop only slightly ranging from 20°C to 22°C in August.
The water near the shore varies in degrees which could be attributed to a number of contributing factors:
- Offshore winds for long periods of time,
- Heavy rain,
- Water close to a river mouth,
- Sunshine, or the lack thereof.
Boardshorts, one-piece or two-piece costumes can be worn in the Durban ocean. A thin rash vest or wetsuit is commonly worn for surfing or bodyboarding or merely to protect yourself from the sun.
How much are flights to Durban?
Peak season (December – January / July – August)
Visitors usually visit Durban during the school holidays or over special holidays or events. This is when you are likely to spend the most on flights and accommodation. This can be avoided however by booking in advance. Leaving it to the last minute leaves you with limited options for flights if any at all.
Low season (March – May / September – November)
Travelling trends to Durban are very specific to special holidays and school holidays (June – July), and since the weather is great all year round, you can never really be sure what the fares will be. You can, however, expect to save up to 32% by travelling between March and June; and August and November. This is the perfect time to take advantage of great savings. Remember to always book in advance. This is likely to be your saving grace every time.
Get ahead of the pack and check out our current domestic flight specials.
8 Annual festivals not to be missed
1. Ballito Pro Presented by Billabong: June
You may remember it as the Gunston 500 (but then you would be giving away your age), but the Ballito Pro is without a doubt the world’s longest running professional surfing competition. After 50 years of its existence, the Ballito Pro is more than just a surfing competition. It is non-stop entertainment for 10 consecutive days. Catering to foodies, fashionistas and entertainment for minors, boredom is an unlikely state of mind when attending the Ballito Pro.
2. Vodacom Durban July: July
If you’ve ever visited Durban over the build-up of the Vodacom Durban July, you’ll understand the nervous excitement which lingers over Durban during this time. Finding the perfect fashion ensemble is to be taken very seriously when attending Africa’s biggest horse racing event. You’ll be hedging your bets on the horse racing, while rubbing shoulders with local celebrities, gawking over designs by South Africa’s leading designers all while quaffing over bubbles. It’s a glamorous affair not to be missed.
3. International Film Festival: July
After 39 years, the Durban International Film festival is still causing a hype among the film fanatics. Expect to be entertained by some of the best features films, documentaries, and shorts films from around the world. 2018 saw 180 films screened over 10 days at seven commercial venues and nine free public venues across Durban.
4. Imbokodo Jazz Festival: August
Organised by the South African Jazz Appreciators Association (SAJAA) in association with iTheku Regional Jazz Association (iTReJA), the Imbokodo Jazz Festival celebrates women in the industry over the month of August, the month where women are celebrated around the country. Why not “jazz” things up and head over to Durban to witness some of South Africa’s most famed female jazz artists? Perhaps August is the best time to visit Durban.
5. The Hilton Arts Festivals: September
25 Years of showcasing Durban’s finest theatre performers, musicians, dancers, and visual craft artists have coined The Hilston Arts Festival one of the largest festivals in South Africa. Although it’s hosted at Hilton College, which is just short of an hour outside of Durban, a festival of this nature should not be missed if you are visiting Durban over the month of September.
6. Bubbles, Beers & Burgers: September
There is no reason why bubbly drinkers can’t let their hair down and tuck into a beer and a messy burger. Bubbles, Beers & Burgers is a testament to that. Life can be tough but the founders refuse to let that get in the way of a beautiful day celebrating life and all it has to offer… Heres to spring day and new possibilities!
7. Durban International Blues Festival: September
Celebrating its 14th successive year, the Durban International Blues Festival has earned a reputation as not just being another local festival. It features blues artists, local, national and international, and has in fact gained international recognition on the global blues market coining its reputation as a festival of an esteemed nature. Perhaps September is the best time to visit Durban?!
8. Good Food and Wine Show: October
Feast your senses at one of the country’s biggest culinary events. From street food to cuisine for the more sophisticated palate, paired with some of South Africa’s finest wines, you’ll be guaranteed to be adequately wined and dined. Its just as well they give you a shopping bag on arrival as you will most certainly need it for all the goodies you pick up along the way.
9. Fact Durban Rocks New Years Eve Party: December
Durbanites will party into the early hours of the morning with some of South Africa biggest artist. 2017 was nothing short of spectacular and 2018 will be no different. Moses Mabhida will see its 6th consecutive New Year’s eve bash. 2017 saw big names like Cassper Nyovest and Black Coffee. What will 2018 be bringing to the party?
This may also be of interest to you: 55 Things to Do in Durban under R250
So, to recap, the best time to visit Durban would be over the winter periods from June to August. The weather is temperate and the crowds are at a minimum, especially at the beachfront. As the city with the warmest ocean, this is quite important and a definite drawcard.
Booking flights in advance will always be your best bet. Also, don’t forget that you can get yourself exclusive Flapp flight deals when you download the app.
Tell us when your favourite time to visit Durban is? Are there any festivals or events you would like to tell us about? Please share in the comments below.
All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.