While ‘dinner and a movie’ has its place on the ideal date spectrum, we’re thinking out the box during this month of love.
Guys, listen up. If you have a bit of money to burn, but you’re not naturally inclined toward romantic ideas, then I’m The Guy is your guy. With a background in sales and social media marketing, Zain Moosa, noticed that there was a gap in the market for tailored experiences for couples and small groups.
What began as a favour for a friend, turned out to be a viable business curating tailor-made dates, and his ideas are totally unique.
“My packages are personalised and dependent on the clients’ budget,” explains Zain. “They start from R7 000 per couple, and that includes a three-course meal from our menu prepared by our chef on location, full setup, layout and decor, photography, and a personalized video slideshow of your experience. I also have picnic packages which start at around R3 000.
The most unique date Zain does is a romantic table setup sculpted into beach sand, which has to be seen to be believed.
“If your budget allows,” he adds, “I can go more extravagant, based on your hobbies and lifestyle.”
Check out Zain’s Instagram @imtheguy_sa or call 074 349 0253.
Into the wild
Rain Farm has created several different ways that you are able to enjoy Valentine’s Day (some of which will continue throughout the month of love).
Enjoy a Valentine’s dinner beside the river on Thursday 14th and Friday 15th, with a 30-minute sunset game drive through the reserve before being dropped off at your scenic riverside dinner spot, welcomed with a glass of bubbly and treated to a five-course romantic dinner under the stars. They also have a three-course dinner at the lodge overlooking the rolling landscapes and game roaming in the distance. Also on the cards are picnics, breakfast with mimosas, game drives with a ranger, or book a night and stay over. They also offer tailor-made packages for proposals at one of three sites on the property, and best of all, a romantic bush experience is just a short drive away from the Dolphin Coast.
Catch a break
A little exhiliration, paired with learning a new skill, is sometimes just what the doctor ordered for long-term partnerships, and what could be more perfect for North Coast couples than learning how to surf?
Ballito local Janek Ferrandi, who grew up surfing our beaches from the age of 10, is at the helm of the Ballito Surf School where he’s taught people to surf from the age of seven and up.
After spending some time in Western Australia as a professional lifeguard (which is hugely reassuring for first-time learners), he soon realized that he simply has a passion for the ocean. “I can’t seem to find myself working anywhere else – I tried!” says Janek.
Prospective students require basic swimming skills, and “just courage to rise up to the challenge,” adds Janek. “It can be very challenging for some.”
Janek recommends up to three lessons to understand the basics, and costs range between R300 and R200 per person, for an hour lesson, depending on how many people there are per session.
All you need is your swimming costume, and Ballito Surf School supply the rest including surfboards, rash vests, wetsuits, and even your sun cream. Janek teaches from Salt Rock, Tiffany’s Beach, Willards, and Salmon Bay.
Take a hike
Together, that is! Walking through nature is not only good for the soul, it’s good for your relationship too. The Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, just outside of Umhlanga Rocks and opposite the Breakers Hotel, is an important refuge for wetland, coastal and forest animals, plants and birds (with over 208 species).
The trail starts at the car park at the end of the promenade and, once you’re through the gates, there’s a wooden boardwalk across the Ohlange River before the trail heads into thick coastal forest, followed by dune forest, before arriving at the beach.
Many of the trees are labelled, so you can stop and take in some botanical info while you walk. Keep an eye out for the 500-year-old white stinkwood.
Disclaimer: the beach has been known for a skinny dip or two, so don’t be surprised if others are following suit (in their birthday suit!). Gates open 6am-6pm, visit umhlangatourism.co.za, or durban-tourism.com for directions
The couple who bikes together
Holla Trails offer bikes for hire, and a range of trails to suit all skills levels, so why not head out on a bike with your loved one for some downtime? It’s only R300 per adult for four hours (including a helmet and a permit), but the fees work out much cheaper if you’re a member, if you have your own bike, or if you choose to run a trail.
If you don’t have a bike, be sure to book in advance as bikes tend to get hired out quickly. Select a route before you leave, and a friendly staff member can assist you with this. Routes are colour-coded, and the distances clearly indicated, so you can easily choose a route according to your fitness level. For an extra R50 they’ll even give your bike a good wash before you head home.
On a budget? Worry not! Here is our roundup of fun things to do or buy that won’t cost the earth.
Share a cone: What happened to just sharing an ice cream, or splitting a waffle together? We love Scoop at Ballito Lifestyle Centre for their colourant- and preservative-free homemade treats, made with real farm-sourced dairy. And locally sourced barn eggs milk cream and sugar sorbet from locally sourced fruit with just enough sugar.
Start whining: You’ll definitely impress with any one of the array of imported wines from Checkers, like Australian and New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, French Bordauex, and wines from Argentina and Spain at affordable prices.
On the night
Haven’t booked anything just yet? Try one of these romantic dinners spots:
Sample Canelands’ three-course dinner, for R495 per person. Visit thecanelands.co.za
Fiamma never fail to impress. Visit fiammagrill.co.za
Splurge on a Parisian-themed dinner at the Beverly Hills, at R1 200 per person. Visit tsogosun.com
The Fairmont Zimbali is hosting a buffet dinner for R680 per person. Visit email@example.com