Umhlanga

If there is one thing that the town of Umhlanga is known for then it would be the annual Reed Dance where every young maiden in town gathers reeds to pay honour to iNdlovukazi or the Queen Mother.

The Dance is a colourful traditional event where the maidens wear sashes with wool streamers, anklets, necklaces, and bracelets.

The town, which is located in the eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, has also become a popular beach destination because of its beautiful 200-kilometer coastline and warm beach waters.

Umhlanga’s population of 15,387 consists mostly of Whites at seventy-five percent and the rest a combination of Black Africans, Coloured, Indians, and Asians.

Despite its reputation as an ideal resort destination, Umhlanga is well-equipped with telecommunication facilities so visitors can easily send and receive mobile phone calls and electronic mails.

Transportation is also not a problem as the town is highly accessible by air through the King Shaka International Airport. Traveling along the nearby cities and provinces is possible through the Mynah Bus service as well as the trains, taxis, and coaches.

Those who are new to the Umhlanga are advised to opt for registered taxis for their security and safety.

History

Umhlanga was formed after the seaside town of Umhlanga Rocks and La Lucia were merged. The town got its name from the nearby Ohlanga River, which flows through the Indian Ocean.

One of the oldest landmarks in Umhlanga is Oyster Box, which was built in 1869 as a beach cottage even before the town was founded by Sir Marshall Campbell in 1895. It was turned in 1930 into a luxury hotel. Development in Umhlanga in the 1980s focused on the Umhlanga Ridge.

Economy and Tourism

One of the world’s most beautiful coastlines is found in Umhlanga, which is the reason why it has become a favourite destination among tourists who love the sand and the beach.

It is also home to the world heritage site of Isimangaliso Wetland Park. The 332,000-hectare park has the largest estuarine system in Africa with 526 species of birds. It boasts of eight ecosystems and three lake systems.

Umhlanga has well-developed tourism facilities including a variety of accommodations from B&Bs, luxury hotels, and holiday apartments.

Residents and visitors will also enjoy the shopping centers, nature trails, restaurants and entertainment facilities. The Sibaya Casino is also a top destination among tourists.

With excellent Blue Flag beaches all over the town, one can expect a variety of water-based activities like kite boarding, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, surfing, whale watching, sand, and a lot more.

Among the other attractions frequented by both locals and visitors are Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, the red and white Lighthouse, which dates back to 1954, the Sharks Board, granny’s Pool, the Hawaan Forest, the O’ Connor Promenade, and the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, which boasts of a go-kart track, a wall-climbing facility, mega skate park, and the DRex or standing wave facility.

Banking is not a problem in Umhlanga as there are bank branches in town and 24/7 automated teller machines. Most establishments accept credit cards so cashless transactions are possible.

Visitors can get the fourteen percent Value Added Tax imposed on their purchases exceeding R250 refunded at the port of exit.

Those who intend to reside in Umhlanga should be aware that petrol can only be purchased on cash basis and not by credit card.

Sports

Umhlanga is a favourite destination among athletes because of the world-class Center for Sports Medicine. Professional athletes who need rehabilitation and specialized medical attention can take advantage of the state-of-the-art medical facilities here.

The town also boasts of up to ten golf courses located right in Umhlanga or located within 35 kilometers outside of town. Golfers who want more challenges can opt for the golf courses at Prince’s Grant or the Zimbali Country Club.

The Amitikulu Golf Course in Tongaat and the Windsor Park Golf Club offers a nine-hole course for avid golfers. For those who want to play the courses where professionals like Ernie Els and Retief Goosen usually play on tour, the Durban Country Club south of Umhlanga is just a ride away.

Almost all sports can be played and seen in town or within a few kilometers out of town including tennis, swimming, archery, rowing, and hockey.

The Absa Stadium for test rugby, the Kingsmead for test cricket, and the Moses Mabhida Stadium for various sports are only some of the sports stadiums near Umhlanga.

Umhlanga is the gateway to everything attractive in South Africa including scenic beaches and the amenities that modern life has to offer. How many towns can offer the best of worlds and more?

It should no longer come as a surprise that some tourists who have tasted what Umhlanga has to offer have decided to stay in town for good.