Durban boasts the largest and busiest port on the African continent and is rated the ninth biggest in the world. The harbour, originally a lagoon, compliments the city. Yachting, skiing, powerboat activities, magnificent passenger liner movements, large container vessels and tankers being loaded and off loaded and fishing, are all activities of general interest that take place in the harbour.
An early problem was the shallow entrance to the harbour. Debris eroded from the interior by the rivers and deposited along the coast formed a bar at the mouth of the harbour. Deepening the mouth, which in 1855 had a low-water depth of little over 3m, was a exceedingly difficult task. By 1898 the position was improved by removing ten million tons of soil from the entrance and increasing the depth to 6m. Today it is over 15m deep at low tide.
The harbour handles a large percentage of all cargo shipped through South African ports. There is a 12km quayside, pre-cooling stores for perishables; a grain dock and elevator storing 42 000 tons of grain, special facilities for ore, coal and fuel-oil loading, bulk oil storage and a sugar export terminal.
Salisbury Island in the harbour was named after the brig Salisbury that, under James King, surveyed the harbour in 1823. The island is now part of a development for 15 berths for deep draught container ships.
Boats for bay and deep-sea cruises as well as fishing are for hire.