Just north of Durban, Umhlanga is the gateway to the KZN North Coast. Renowned for its fabulous beaches and party atmosphere, it’s a great family holiday destination. Although they tend to get top billing, hyped up attractions like a casino and the Gateway, which is an enormous but rather fabulous mall, are the least of Umhlanga’s attractions. Although the Gateway has supermarkets, boutiques, movie theatres, restaurants and hundreds of other retail therapy outlets, it’s far from your average mall.
The Rock – a 22m-high freestanding climbing wall – is the highest on the planet, and a cooking wave machine has a hectic tube and the only artificial double point break in the world. A mini 4x4 course, complete with mini four-wheel drive vehicles, completes the adventure collection. And – for the more erudite – the MTN ScienCenter is an adventure of the mind – exploring the outer limits of human knowledge. This is shopping with a difference!
For a really interesting educational and entertaining outing, a visit to the Sharks Board is a real eye opener. Here you’ll learn that sharks are not mindless killers but you’ll also be reassured by the measures the Sharks Board takes to protect beach users from these rather maligned, but beautiful predators. But, more to the point, Umhlanga, which means “Place of Reeds” in the Zulu language, is a great beach and nature destination.
The lovely old lighthouse, which still flashes out its warning signal every night, stands proud up on the beach, which has been awarded a Blue Flag for cleanliness, environmental standards and facilities. The O’Conner Promenade, which is a great place for a beach-front jog or leisurely stroll, leads on to the lovely Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve Nature Trail – a one-and-a-half-hour ramble through coastal forest, where you may see lots of birds, some vervet monkeys, and even the odd antelope. Other nearby nature destinations include the Hawaan Forest and Umhlanga Ponds, which are a magnet for water-fowl, and hence also a magnet for keen birders.
Umhlanga, like the rest of the North Coast, is very well endowed with hotels, guest houses, shops and restaurants.