Margate is one of South Africa’s premier tourist destinations and offers visitors a wide choice of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. These range from the personalised touch of cosy B & B accommodation, through to all-mod-con self-catering accommodation, guest houses, lodges, hotels and camping and caravan sites.
For those who enjoy their food the area abounds with a wonderful selection of fine restaurants, inviting pubs and fast food outlets.
Like several towns along KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast, Margate took its name from the original farm named by the English surveyor Henry Richardson after Margate in England. The farm was bought in 1919 by a Mr. Hugh Ballance. Paying the princely sum of £466 he chose it, he said, for “its beautiful beach and congenial scenery” - hardly sound agricultural reasons. However farming was not to be its destiny: in 1921 Ballance decided to subdivide the farm into half-acre plots and form a township which he initially called Inkongweni after the local river – “the place of entreatment” in Zulu.
Due to the areas extreme isolation initial sales were sluggish, but then something remarkable happened to turn both Ballance’s and Margate’s fortunes around. During the winter of 1922 a strange occurrence took place off what is now Margate Beach. So strange it received worldwide headlines and put Ballance’s new township firmly on the map.
The story goes that people watched two whales fight what appeared to be a monster ‘polar bear’ which was killed and then washed up on the beach. This bear-like thing was reported to be 47 feet (14.3m) long by 10 feet (3m) wide by 5 feet (1.5m) high, with a 5 foot trunk, a 10 foot (3m) tail and covered all over with snow white hair. No wonder it was such big news! Anyway it apparently lay on the beach for all to see for two weeks before being swept away by the next spring tide. Just a pity no one had a camera.
Whether true or not, it certainly turned the tide for what has become one of South Africa’s monster holiday resorts. Other resorts in the region include:
Ramsgate also derived its name from the original farm. One of its initial residents, a well-travelled and artistic Paul Buck, whiled away his time writing, painting, building violins and rearing tropical fish. Aptly enough he preferred calling the spot ‘Blue Lagoon’.
The name Manaba grew out of the Zulu term for great ease and relaxation, which you will find most apt upon visiting the area.