Umhlanga Beach. Beach in South Africa, Africa

Umhlanga Beach

Beach in South Africa, Africa

Umhlanga Beach Photo © Andrew Harvard

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Umhlanga Beach

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Situated in Umhlanga Rocks is a well-known sea resort. Facing the warm waters of the Indian Ocean; Umhlanga Beach, meaning “place of reeds” in the Zulu language, stretches on for more than 200 kilometers, and is busy all year long.

From the Proud Zulu Nation to a Favorite Holiday Destination

The area known as Umhlanga Rocks was initially home to San hunter-gatherers and were later replaced by Nguni speaking people, who were part of the Zulu Kingdom (Wikipedia
	Article) in the 1800s.

When the British took control of the area, it became part of a large estate belonging to Sir Marshall Campbell (Wikipedia Article) (1848-1917, a prominent sugar cane planter and miller who arrived in Durban in 1850 with his parents. He later brought in labor from India to work on his estates around the year of 1860).
In 1869, Umhlanga's first beach cottage was built on a rocky site, overlooking the sea, where tea and scones were served to passers-by.

Later on, the cottage became the Oyster Box Hotel in the 1930s. In 1953, Umhlanga's distinctive red and white lighthouse was built to warn sailors and mariners and navigate them away from the dangers of the rocky shores. The first hotel in the area was built by Sir Marshall Campbell’s daughters, which lead the way for other prestigious hotels to follow, allowing Umhlanga to become one of the most desirable holiday destinations in the world.


Whether you like taking a stroll along the golden coastline of the beach or taking a dip in the tropical waters, the Umhlanga Rocks' Beach Resort has something for everyone. From beautiful, gifted landscapes, multiracial crowds, and the warm weather, this place is a dream destination.
The red and white
	lighthouse - Umhlanga Beach
The red and white lighthouse - Umhlanga Beach. Photo by unknown

You can opt for a walk on the 3.0 kilometers-long Umhlanga promenade, which is surrounded by gardens of indigenous plants. At the southern end of the promenade, you’ll find the very famous red and white lighthouse. Walking back in the northwards direction, on the beach you’ll discover the very beautiful and unique pier, with its whale bone structure. It is not only an architectural masterpiece, but also serves as an underground culvert that helps disperse excess water from the land to the ocean. This pier won the South African National Award for outstanding civil engineering achievements.

If you are the adventurous and curious type, a tour with the natal shark board is just for you. An early morning boat trip will take you out to sea where you can observe their staff at work. You’ll have the opportunity to see how they check the shark safety gear, and gives tourists an opportunity to observe a great variety of marine life. This is followed by audio-visual shows and dissection of sharks.

Try the diving lessons at the Aqua Rush, located at the Umhlanga Ski Boat Club. Opened from 8 AM to 5 PM, they offer diving experiences in various environments, from shipwrecks to rocky reef formations. They also take you to canyons; home to sea crustaceans, reef fish and the notorious Zambezi Shark.

For those eager for a night out, visit the Sibaya Casino. It can be found north of Durban Central, between Umdloti (Wikipedia Article) and Umhlanga. It is just what you need for family holidays. It features a technologically advanced casino with great restaurants, exhibits, and all types of accommodation. Its location offers a view over the Indian Ocean and over the hills of Zululand.

How to Get There

For those who prefer flying to Durban City, there’s one international airport, the King Shaka International Airport. It’s a 2 hours' trip from Cape Town, and a 1 hour trip from Johannesburg. Then, from King Shaka International Airport you can jump on a Rikki that will take you to the beach resort.

You can also get there by the road. If you're arriving from Cape Town, the highway N2 will take you there, and from Johannesburg or Pretoria, take the N3. You can reach Umhlanga by driving along the M4 coastal highway that connects Durban to Umhlanga.
To get around Umhlanga, you can opt to walk and take in the scenery, or hire a taxi. Make sure the taxi is well registered and that its vehicle is operable.

Where to Stay

After a day of sunbathing or swimming on the golden sands of the Umhlanga Rocks' beachfront, try to rest or spend the night in the comforts of the many hotels available in the area. Whether you prefer hotels to self-catering accommodations, you’ll find just what you need within a walking distance from the beach.

Equipped with pools, fitness centers, daily housekeeping, restaurants, and free parking, these accommodations are also conveniently located next to the international airport, Umhlanga's lighthouse, coffee bars, shops and of course the beautiful beaches.

Two wonderful hotels, just a short walk away from the beach, will help you feel comfortable during your stay in Umhlanga. These hotels are the Beverly Hills Hotel and the City Lodge (rooms are priced from $ 97 USD a night).

For self-catering accommodations, we recommend Anchor Rest-Self-Catering and Cathy’s Place which are priced from $ 60 USD a night, you can enjoy breakfast (not free) by the pool if you prefer being served by the staff of the cottage.

Lastly, Addis and Breakfast which is located almost 3.2 kilometers away from the beach but the closest to the airport, is a well-equipped, catered accommodation and is as pleasant and peaceful as the other restaurants. From $ 50 USD a night per person, make sure you pay 50% of the fee before you check in with them in order to secure your booking.


With its very vibrant Asian community, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the many colors of Umhlanga. From spicy cuisine to fast food, the repertoire of the resort is endless with excellent restaurants such as:

Little Havana

Its unique décor was inspired by the Cuban capital city and its plantations. They specialize in grills and seafood, all enjoyed with savory, local wines.

Ocean basket Umhlanga Rocks

With their seafood freshly sourced from the sea, there's no doubt that this restaurant is one of the best in this specialty. Reasonable amounts of food are served while also a good variety of seafood dishes are offered at reasonable prices. We recommend their seafood platters, served with hot fries, and drizzled with lemon juice and chili sauce.

The Razzmatazz

Now called Maritime’s, this restaurant is conveniently located on the beachfront. They serve seafood and curry dishes. But many people have complained about a decline in the quality of the service and quality of the food ever since the restaurant had its name changed.

Oriental Restaurant

A fast food restaurant, offering simple yet tasty dishes with a touch of India in their choice of spices, food texture, and rich colors. Try their curry dishes, samosas, and burgers.

Lord Prawn Umhlang

A fish and grill restaurant, but also serves pasta, chicken dishes, curries and steaks.

The Best Time to Visit

The Umhlanga Rocks' Beach Resort is gifted with sunny and warm days, 320 days a year. With its beacons indicating safe bathing, and lifeguards on the watch for most of the day, the place is ideal for those in search of the ideal holiday destination. The best time to visit the beaches would be the summer months of December through February, where the beaches are busy from early mornings until dark.

Safety Tips

Here are some guidelines that we think you should follow for your own safety:
  • Always carry your credit cards and passport in your inside and front pockets.
  • Avoid isolated, dark areas and avoid walking alone at all times.
  • And lastly, as long as you don't flaunt your money, jewelry, and other belongings in public, you'll be fine.

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    Author: Comasco. Last updated: Sep 09, 2014


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