A relatively young city, Richards Bay has really come into its own as a cruise destination in recent years. Since it was declared a city in 1969, Richards Bay has expanded with the arrival of new shops, cafés, and hotels as the area’s tourism trade has blossomed.
While it is a quaint and enjoyable city, Richards Bay’s core attraction is its geographical position. Located on South Africa’s eastern shore, about 250 kilometres south of Mozambique’s border, this port city provides a gateway to KwaZulu-Natal, one of the country’s most picturesque and popular provinces.
Visitors of Richards Bay can access the several cultural villages and wildlife reserves nearby, where they can discover and learn about the area’s animals, lifestyle, and history. These, along with the region’s scenic landscapes, make this a highlight of any cruise itinerary that passes through. Companies including Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Silversea Cruises offer routes that stop in Richards Bay.
The port at Richards Bay is located to the south of the city. It is situated on a beautiful 30 square kilometre lagoon connected to the Mhlathuze River.
The Indian Ocean sprawls to the east of Richards Bay, and Durban, KwaZulu-Natal’s largest city, is about 170 kilometres to the southwest.
Zulu dancers and craftsmen and women often greet cruise passengers at the port, making for a unique and exotic welcome to this South African region. You should also find a tourist information office close to where you disembark. Aside from this, facilities at the port itself are quite limited; however, most cruise lines provide a shuttle from the port to town.
Once in town, you will have access to a wide range of facilities, including:
Banks and ATMs
How To Get Around
Many cruise passengers explore Richards Bay and the surrounding sites via a guided tour. Travelling in the city itself is easy to do on foot as the city is quite small. If you are in Richards Bay but not part of a guided tour, it might be worth hiring a car to make the most of your time here and to easily reach the sites that interest you.
Travel times from the port:
It is a 13 minute journey to Boardwalk Inkwazi Shopping Centre
It is an 18 minute journey to Outdoor Africa
It is a 19 minute journey to Alkantstrand Beach.
Currency – The local currency in Richards Bay is the South African rand (ZAR), which is broken down into 100 cents. Banknotes come in R10, R20, R50, R100, and R200 denominations. Coins come in 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, and R5 denominations.
Time Zone – South Africa Standard Time (SAST) is observed in Richards Bay, putting the city 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The area does not swap to daylight savings time at any point in the year.
Weather – Richards Bay is generally warm, with average maximum temperatures ranging from 23 to 29 degrees Celsius. The period from December to March is the hottest, but it does not get warmer than 30 degrees Celsius too often. Rainfall is quite common in Richards Bay throughout the year, with the most millimetres falling in the summer months. June and July are the region’s driest months.
Outdoor Africa (Customised Photographic Safaris) – These extraordinary safaris are custom-fitted to suit a guest’s desires and budget, enabling you to experience the ideal African wilderness adventure. Expect to discover white rhinos, lions, giraffes, and plenty of other native animals – you won’t want to forget your camera on this day safari! South Africa’s famous landscapes and creatures provide visitors with a one-of-a-kind experience that are impossible to forget.
Alkantstrand Beach – Beautiful, well maintained, and peaceful, this beach near the city’s port is much loved by locals and visitors alike. Clean and safe (lifeguards are usually on duty), Alkantstrand Beach is perfect for families looking for a relaxing morning or afternoon by the seashore. Grassed and shaded picnic areas provide the perfect settings for lunch or a snack.
Pelican Island – For the ultimate place to relax and enjoy South Africa’s beautiful scenery, look no further than Pelican Island. Enjoy the bliss of a secluded beach or dive into the soothing waters of the Indian Ocean.
Bird Watching – Richards Bay, along with many of its neighbouring nature reserves, is a dream come true for birdwatching enthusiasts. The Zululand Birding Route provides a particularly enchanting experience for nature lovers, while other sites worthy of a visit include the harbor area, Southern Sanctuary, and the Enseleni Nature Reserve.