Stretching north from Umhlanga, the area is flanked by the Indian Ocean, and is blessed with coral reefs, pristine estuaries, lake systems and over 200 kilometres of untouched sandy beach (recently designated a World Heritage coastline). Behind lies a rich variety of unique habitats, including wetland and sand forest.
Among the highlights of Maputaland (Kwazulu Natal's northern province) are its nature reserves, including Pongola, Ithala, Mkuze, Tembe, Ndumo; lakes, including Sibaya and St Lucia; and marine reserves at Kosi Bay and Sodwana. Each reserve has its distinctive attractions. A new road and airstrips have now opened this isolated region to vacation makers. Sustainable tourism will play a vital part in the preservation of this extraordinary landscape in the 21st century.
The reefs in northern Maputaland have been dived for less than five years and are glorious. The best-known reefs are Illusive and M’bibi reefs. The Old Women Angelfish section of the M’bibi reef system is named for the shoals of fish that follow divers. This section is characterised by large pinnacles and collapse features, and abundant reef fish.