Umhlanga is a great gateway town to many of South Africa’s most thrilling destinations. Offering an amazing range of its own attractions, it’s perfect for stopovers both before and after the main event/s of your vacation.
This affluent seaside town is situated 16 kilometres north of Durban, within the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. The name Umhlanga translates as ‘place of reeds’ in the Zulu language – this refers to the reed beds along the River Ohlanga, which runs north of the town.
History of Umhlanga
Umhlanga was founded in 1895 by Sir Marshall Campbell, a sugar industry pioneer. Campbell had arrived in Durban in 1850 with his parents, all as English emigrants to Natal under a settler scheme. Umhlanga’s first hotel was built in 1920, closely followed by its first shop and a lighthouse. Many other hotel developments took place in subsequent decades, not least The Oyster Box, a favourite at YZ. On 1st August 1972, the Borough of Umhlanga was formed by merging the town with the suburb of La Lucia.
Umhlanga’s beaches are its main attraction, stretching for miles along the scenic coast. The golden sandy beaches are a great option for travellers who want to do nothing more than relax and soak up some sun! The town’s iconic lighthouse, with its jaunty red top, also draws the crowds. Visitors can enjoy a pleasant stroll out to sea along Umhlanga’s pier, or along the seafront on the town’s promenade. You can also experience the ocean on boat trips and diving or snorkelling excursions. Inland adventures include ziplining and paintballing in the forest! Culture fans will appreciate Umhlanga’s art gallery, art-and-craft shop, cinemas, and theatres. The town contains plenty of shops too, and its Gateway Theatre of Shopping is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest mall! And there are lots of cafés, restaurants, and bars for whenever you need to take a break from sightseeing.
Time/s of year to travel
The time of year you choose to visit Umhlanga will depend on the timing of your trip to the Battlefields, the Drakensberg, Phinda Private Game Reserve, or iSimangaliso Wetland Park. But it’s worth mentioning that the town holds a number of festivals in December. For example, there’s the Umhlanga Summer Festival, which launches mid-month and involves an exhilarating mix of beach activities, watersports, and entertainments.
Accommodation options in and around the town include hotels, self-catering apartments, guesthouses, and B&Bs. Our favourite properties are The Oyster Box and Lalaria Lodge. The former is a fabulous 5-star hotel that’s suitable for all types of traveller, while Lalaria is a lovely boutique guesthouse with only five rooms in total.
For details on both properties, please visit our accommodation pages below or phone us to start planning your vacation!