If one were to judge Richards Bay based on the profession of some of its most famous residents, then it would be easy to say that it is a sports-friendly town.
Among its notable residents are Olympic bronze medalist Kayak Bridgitte Hartley, rugby referee Marius Jonker, and soccer player Lindokuhle Mkhwanazi.
While it only occupies a 97.41-square kilometer area, the town of Richard’s Bay has one of the largest harbors in South Africa given its location within the Mhlatuze River lagoon.
Richards Bay used to be a fishing village with barely 200 people until the development of the harbor and the establishment of Bayside Aluminium, giving rise to a population of almost 20,000 people by 1990.
It has served as the region’s major growth center and is a tourism gateway to Maputaland and Zululand. All the positive forces including a moderate climate during winter, ideal transportation system, and abundant labor have contributed to the development of Richards Bay’s economy.
Richards Bay started as a makeshift harbor in 1879 thanks to the initiative of Commodore Frederick Richards. It was only proclaimed a town in 1969 and its harbor converted into a modern deep water harbor connected to Johannesburg in 1976.
The development of the harbor led to the development of the residential areas in Meerensee, Arboretum, and Veld-en-Vlei.
But since apartheid or discrimination against black people was still enforced during that time, only the white people were allowed in the three suburbs.
The Blacks were relegated to the area in Esikhaweni and later on Indians and people of mixed blood were accommodated in Veld-en Vlei.
Economy and Tourism
Those who are looking forward to frost-free winters would love the climate in Richards Bay. Expect summers here to be warm yet wet, and the winters mild yet moist.
The town has a subtropical climate with temperatures ranging from 21.5°C to 29°C. The best time to visit the town is from June to August when the temperature is at its best.
Tourists have also earmarked the town as a favorite kite surfing destination. Richards Bay has come a long way from its humble beginnings.
The town has become more robust and vibrant with over 54,553 people living here today. It has also become more tolerant, with the Whites, Blacks, Indians, and mixed bloods peacefully co-existing in the area.
The town has a relatively young population with almost seventy percent of the townsfolk aged 34 years and below. Its economic progress can be measured by the only nineteen percent unemployment rate compared to the nearby areas with up to fifty-five percent.
Those who want to relocate in the area should check out the Meerensee area, which is considered the town’s wealthiest suburb.
As a low-risk area for malaria, Richards Bay is one of the most ideal places for relocation in South Africa. However, prevention and precaution should be observed when visiting the town so the use of insect repellents, bed nets, and protective clothing is highly recommended.
Travelling between Richards Bay and Johannesburg is easy thanks to the daily flights by SA Express. Road travel is also accessible by private vehicle or on board the Greyhound Bus.
Since it is a harbor town with modern port facilities, sea vessels including modern yachts have made the town their first port of call.
The port, which was originally built for coal export, has since expanded into other valuable cargoes. It is basically the center of the town’s economy. It has also paved the way for the entry of tourists who flock to the town’s scenic and clean beaches all year round thanks to the tropical climate.
With almost 350 kilometers of coastline, the town is an ideal destination for those who worship the sun and the beaches and who want to try their adventurous streaks.
Despite the rural setting, town life has also become more urban because of the large supermarkets and malls that have made Richards bay a shopping area. Tourists can however get their souvenir Zulu crafts just along the roadside markets.
People who come to Richards Bay for business can easily enjoy the various outdoor activities available in town when they want to have some rest and recreation time.
The Richards Bay Game Reserve has always attracted residents and visitors alike since it showcases crocodiles, hippopotamus, and other exotic animals, which were once the subject of intensive hunting but are now protected inside the reservation area.
Subject to the availability of R10-million to be raised by the council, Richards Bay may just become the host of the next FIFA-sanctioned BRICS beach soccer cup.
The soccer competition is expected to attract teams from China, India, Russia, and Brazil. But whether the hosting pushes through or not, sports officials in town are bent on making Richards Bay a beach soccer hub in South Africa.
The town already has an existing beach, which is up to par with the requirements of beach soccer.
However, the international match, which will be broadcasted live to 180 countries and an estimated 250 million households, will undoubtedly put the town in the world’s sports map and will earn thousands in tourism and other revenues.
Richards Bay has a lot of economic and tourism potential and relocating here would be a good move for those who love country living while having some of life’s modern amenities within reach.