Umhlanga area and property guide

Private Property South Africa
Cath Jenkin

Umhlanga is rapidly becoming the ultimate place to live in Durban.

What has business, beaches and beautiful people everywhere you look? That’s easy: Umhlanga.

A little history

Umhlanga hasn’t always been the bright cosmopolitan spot it is today. The very first developments in this suburb occurred, of course, around the pristine beaches and beautiful coastline. And while many a holiday home was made here, especially among the well-to-do, the region was surrounded by fields of sugar cane, giving it a slightly rural ambience. But that is no more, as Umhlanga has become the place to be for Durbanites, who not only flock to the beaches, but also come here for business, nights out on the town and, of course, to reside in one of the beautifully appointed and luxuriously furnished homes and apartments throughout the suburb.

Well managed, beautifully executed

As demand grew for development and accommodation in the suburb, so too did the commercial and industrial focus of Umhlanga. As more and more companies head away from the CBD to set up their head offices, Umhlanga’s reputation as a business centre has galloped and grown. But that hasn't meant degradation in the quality of life for residents. Quite the opposite, in fact, as Umhlanga resident and HR project coordinator at Flash Mobile Vending, Roxanne Swanepoel, tells us: “Umhlanga is like a little world of its own. It has a strong business focus with an array of dynamic offices on the ridge, and right next door you’ll find the giant retail hub Gateway Theatre of Shopping. But just down the road you’ll discover this incredible coastline and holidaymaking beachfront that sets the tone for the most relaxed lifestyle within the hustle and bustle of a city. It’s a weird and magical mix.

The area is beautifully managed, the streets and parks are kept immaculate and the buildings are always being revamped to keep the modern chic feel. The area is also kept safe with top-notch security so cars can be left outside overnight, and my husband and I enjoy the luxury of walking home after a movie in the evening. It’s the optimal spot to live, with the best mix of lifestyle and bustle that keeps us sharp and on trend, but at the same time gives a coastal relaxed feel, which is ideal for weekends and socialising.”

Heading into the village

Ask a friend what they’d like to do tonight and they’ll probably mention “heading into the village”. Except it’s not really a village, but rather a busy block that’s populated with some of the best restaurants, stores and night spots in Durban. You’re spoilt for choice when picking where to eat, with Remo’s, Bar Ba Coa, Vovo Telo, Olive & Oil, Nando’s and Little Havana all within a quick walk of one another. And if you’re keen on a tipple with the mates, everyone goes to The George, so you’ll spot a familiar face pretty easily.

Hotels of recognition

Two of Durban’s most revered hotels take pride of place along the Umhlanga coastline. Pop into The Oyster Box Hotel and you may run into a celebrity or three at the breakfast table. But the hotel itself has its own celebrity, with Skabenga, the well-loved cat, undoubtedly greeting you as you check in. The Beverly Hills Hotel opened its doors in 1964 and has been enchanting holidaymakers ever since. With grand views over the Indian Ocean and easy access to the beach, it’s no surprise that this hotel continues to win accolades and awards every year.

You’ll know it when you see it

The Umhlanga Promenade is where you’ll find everyone taking a leisurely walk or a fast-paced run for daily exercise. Overlooking the beaches and accompanied by the sound of crashing waves, is there any better way to get fit? Of course, you’ll know exactly where you are along your route, using the Umhlanga lighthouse as your landmark.

What to do in Umhlanga

Roxanne recommends you experience Umhlanga life by:

  • Popping in to Ebb & Flo at Gateway for their Banting pizza
  • Grabbing a brioche at Vovo Telo
  • Heading to The Crescent, Gateway Theatre of Shopping’s little sister, for a quick-stop shop
  • Catching a coffee break at IWantMyCoffee
  • Lazing on the beach after a walk along the Promenade

Take a journey through Umhlanga here:

This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.

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