Umhlanga Rocks is a residential, commercial and resort town north of Durban, founded in 1895 by Sir Marshall Campbell. This once small town is named after the beds of reeds that accumulate along the Ohlanga River, which reaches the Indian Ocean north of the town. Visitors from around the world flock to the holiday resort village of Umhlanga Rocks to relax and have fun on one of the most beautiful coastlines in Africa.
Umhlanga overlooks the warm waters of the Indian Ocean where golden sandy beaches stretch northwards for more than 200km, all the way to the magnificent iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Along this stretch of spectacular beach, you will be faced with 4 iconic landmarks in the area, the Umhlanga Lighthouse, Umhlanga’s O’Connor Promenade, Umhlanga Pier and Umhlanga Nature Reserve.
Umhlanga’s O’Connor Promenade
The Umhlanga Promenade was created for those who visit the popular holiday destination in order to enjoy the coastline. This 3km paved stretch reaches Durban View Park in the South, to Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve in the north. This promenade is ideal for a leisurely stroll to enjoy the view, or a nice jog to get into shape for summer.
Completed in 1954, the Umhlanga Lighthouse has been a favourite subject of numerous paintings and memorabilia. Originally built to replace the Bluff Lighthouse, which was commissioned in 1869 but had to be abandoned due to its rapid deterioration, it stands guard over some of the most treacherous waters of Southern Africa. It not only warns ships of hidden dangers, but the flashing light is also a warm welcome to the ships sailing towards the safety of Durban harbour, the ninth largest port in the World.
This 21 metre high, circular concrete tower, painted white with a red band at the top, has a focal plane height of 25 metres. The fixed red light assists ships to monitor their positions when waiting to anchor in the out anchorage. If the red light can be seen by a ship, it suggests that the ships anchors have more than likely dragged and it is too close to shore.
The Lighthouse has never had a keeper, as the Oyster Box Hotel was originally the first beach cottage in the area, and has always been the official warden. The Lighthouse controls are located in the hotel office, where staff monitor the on goings and report to Portnet’s Lighthouse Service.
Umhlanga Nature Reserve
The Umhlanga Nature reserve starts where the O’Connor Promenade ends. This is a delightful hour-and-a-half trail on a well marked path. Here you can wander through stunning coastal forest on boardwalks that cross the Ohlanga River on its way to the lagoon, bolstered by dunes and reeds. The Umhlanga Nature Reserve is home to vervet monkeys, small buck and a plethora of butterflies and birds. Benches and picnic spots are provided in discreet locations for those wanting to soak up the peace and serenity. The trail to reach both the beach and the lagoon is popular amongst nature lovers as well as parasailing enthusiasts. Keep your eyes open near the Lagoon as the remains of a Stone Age seashell midden can also be found.