Durban is relatively easy to navigate because the sea is a constant reference point. Downtown Durban is dominated by two parallel one-way streets, Dr. Pixley kaSeme Street (West Street) going toward the sea and Anton Lembede Street (Smith Street) going away from the sea, toward Berea and Pietermaritzburg; together they get you in and out of the city center easily. Parking downtown is a nightmare; head for an underground garage whenever you can. As with the rest of South Africa, wherever you go, self-appointed car guards will ask if they can watch your car. The going rate for a tip—if you want to give one—is R5, depending on how long you're away. The guards directly outside Joe Kool's, between North and South beaches, are said to be very trustworthy. Don't leave your keys with anyone.
The M4 (Ruth First Highway), which stretches north up to the Dolphin Coast—from Umhlanga to Ballito, about 40 km (25 miles) and beyond—is a particularly pretty coastal road, offering many views of the sea through lush natural vegetation and sugarcane fields. It's much nicer than the sterile N2 highway, which takes a parallel path slightly inland and offers no views.
Avis, Budget, Europcar, and Tempest have rental offices at the airport. Rates start at around R400 per day, including insurance and 200 km (125 miles), plus R2.10 per additional kilometer (half mile), or about R500 for the weekend. Avis offers unlimited mileage to international visitors, as long as you can produce your return ticket, international driver’s license, and passport as proof.