Beach Sun and Sea
Arriving in Umdloti, there is little question about what happens in the town. Arriving on the single road into town, Umdloti spreads along the coast in two directions. Aside from a small shopping centre, it’s all holiday flats and cabanas. This is definitely a place to have a holiday by the sea. Wherever you stay the beach and the Indian Ocean are just over the road, and everywhere seems to be designed to have a view of the sea.
Off course, food plays a part in a good holiday. Arriving in the late afternoon, after finding our holiday apartment and doing some shopping we were keen for an early dinner. Still in shorts and T-shirt, we picked Mundo Vida, perhaps 100m from where we were staying. What a great choice! First impression was just a normal "by the sea" seafood restaurant. The reality was a top class meal.
By the sea and, of course seafood features high on the menu, with big prawns and fresh specials from the day’s catch. Munro Vida did not disappoint.
Holiday with a Sea View
Our first venture with Airbnb, we stayed at Umdloti Cabanas. These are three story cabanas, with the living area and bedrooms on the first and second floors. This means that you always have a view over the sea. There’s nothing like going to sleep to the sound of the the breakers on the beach, and waking up to the view of the sun rising over the sea. If you like to get up that early, of course. Feeling lazy, and you can just chill out on the balcony and watch the ever moving sea.
The beach is just a few steps away, over the road. Great to take a stroll before breakfast.
If you want to have a braai, there is ample space on the ground floor. In fact, the apartment owners had braai kit ready and waiting.
The sea view changes every day with the tide and weather, so some days it’s a smooth and glassy sea, on others every wave has a white cap. Ships anchor along this part of the coast, waiting to enter the Durban harbour. So there are always a number of different container ships and various cargo carriers in view.
As we have experienced on this coast before, the vervet monkeys can be a problem, sneaking in through an unattended door or window at every opportunity. They won’t come in if anybody is about, but you don’t dare walk away for too long. Sadly visitors often do not obey the warnings and feed the "cute monkeys". They know that people have easy food, so they keep coming back. The message is "Don’t feed the monkeys!".
Beach and Milkshakes
In October on the kwaZulu Natal coast, the wind tends to become noticeable by late morning, so the best time to sit on the beach is the early part of the morning. We quickly discovered that an hour or two on the beach was finished nicely with a couple of coffee milkshakes at the Caffé Java.
Just across the road from the beach, Caffé Java has a long balcony, where you can sit with that great sea view. The café also does good breakfasts and lunch.
The beaches in this part of Umdloti are quite steep, and not where you want to swim. Great for surfers though, and we did see a few of those.
Further along, opposite the Sandbar restaurant is a rocky area, which forms a shallow rock pool at low tide. That’s an excellent spot to swim and take the kids.
Not the most exciting part of the holiday, but necessary if you are staying for a while. The small shopping centre has the basics, a pharmacy, bottle store, petrol station and even a biltong shop. A short walk away is a Spar supermarket with all of the normal foodstuffs. We found the range and quality of both fresh and pre-packed food was good.
As we were, in part at least, self catering, and South Africa is braai (it’s not a barbecue and you don’t put hamburger on it!) country meat was in demand. Local butcher Farm to Forkwas excellent, especially the 2 inch thick t-bones. They also carry a good range of braai kit.
This post seems to be all about food. But isn’t that what a holiday is about? Days on the beach and good food. We were in Umdloti for 10 days, eating in and eating out regularly. By UK standards food in South Africa is relatively cheap, even in good restaurants, which does help. In our entire trip we didn’t find any poor quality food.
Here are a few of the places we enjoyed.
Fish and Chips: What would the seaside be without fish and chips? We had a good meal at local Spuds.
Sandbar: The Sandbar Restaurant and Cocktail Bar is a high quality restaurant directly opposite the swimming beach. Good food with a creative twist, highly recommended by locals.
Quality Italian food with an emphasis on seafood Bel Punto was the venue for our final dinner before heading home.
Tasca: Tasca is an al fresco pizza restaurant right next to the Sandbar. Great for a snack if you’ve been on the beach.
More Umdloti Attractions
Umdloti is home to a nature reserve, though we didn’t go there.
Going To Umdloti
Umdloti caters mainly for South African visitors, typically coming from inland. You won’t find it as a destination in most tourist destinations. Umdloti is only 10 minutes drive from Durban’s King Shaka airport, and close to the main centre of Durban.
If you are looking for a relaxed holiday by the sea, with access to good food, and an occasional visit to the bright lights of Umhlanga and Durban, then Umdloti is a great choice.