Umhlanga, Umdloti and Ballito in focus

Umhlanga, Umdloti and Ballito in focus

Private Property South Africa
Anne Schauffer

These coastal towns in KZN each have unique attractions that appeal to permanent residents and visitors alike.

It’s been a while since suburbs like Umhlanga or Umdloti could be described with a single name. Today, Umhlanga has clearly defined zones, with a strong mixed-use component, and is broken up into mini suburbs. Umhlanga Ridge is distinctive by its major commercial and corporate head o¬ffices. While it has a hotel or two bordering Gateway, it’s the Gateway precinct, encircling Gateway Theatre of Shopping, which features mixed-use apartment blocks, retail shops, hospitality and other smaller shopping centres.

Umhlanga’s beachfront caters largely for holiday-makers, with timeshare options, apartments and various hotels such as the Beverly Hills and The Red Carnation’s The Oyster Box – this strip is where many vibey restaurants have put down roots. There’s long been a coastal residential belt leading south from the village towards neighbouring La Lucia, with other residential zones including Prestondale and several luxury estates such as the superb Hawaan Forest Estate. Umhlanga is now the heart of Durban. Suburbs like Umdloti and Ballito were previously only regarded as holiday destinations.

Heading along the picturesque M4, which winds along the coast towards Umdloti, you pass Sibaya Casino sprawled on the hill towards the N2 freeway. On the right, the tra¬ffic circle now has a new nearly workable arm leading to the sea. Currently used only by construction vehicles, the road will soon be the doorway to this section of the vast new Sibaya Precinct. A number of new residential developments are under construction on the slopes leading down to Umdloti Beach. Swathes of this environmentally protected coastal land will include boardwalks leading down to the beach. The Sibaya Precinct, Tongaat Hulett Developments land, will be a massive mixed-use area, curated to work for all. Among the apartments and complexes, is Shoreline Sibaya: the region’s first retirement complex incorporating fresh ideas about what retirees want.

There are many holiday apartment blocks along the coast, to and beyond the popular tidal pool. Head south from the circle and its largely residential property comprising apartments, freestanding homes and a few bed and breakfasts or boutique establishments. Much of this stretch is high-end property. Bellamont Road leads o¬ the main entrance road to the town and crests the hill which is lined with a mix of residential and holiday accommodation. There are panoramic views and although it’s a hilly walk to and from the beach, this belt is far from the madding crowd.

Few towns in South Africa have grown as much as Ballito. From a popular seaside resort, Ballito now has a solid mix of residents and holiday-makers, and a massive retail complex opened this year. Ballito Bay Mall joins the Ballito Lifestyle Centre and Ballito Junction. Enterprise iLembe, the region’s investment arm, has been formed to develop Ballito and the iLembe area. The main entrance to Ballito from the N2 highway has been upgraded, with the construction of a multilevel interchange to ease traffic and the widening of the road to four lanes in Ballito Drive. There are a number of estates in the vicinity, with and without golf courses.

There’s little doubt these three towns have benefitted from their proximity to King Shaka International Airport. This works particularly well for people who regularly travel to and from Johannesburg. These nodes are where the action is, and it looks like development will continue unabated.

I’ve lived in Umdloti for 10 years; actually, I escaped here from the city. I work from home with a view of dolphins and whales much of the year. It’s like being on holiday permanently.

-Gail Honeyman, resident.

Schools on the KZN North Coast

  • Umhlanga Pre-Primary
  • Reddam House Umhlanga
  • Crawford Schools, La Lucia
  • Atholton Primary School, Umhlanga
  • Curro Mount Richmore
  • Ashton International College, Ballito

Shopping on the North Coast

  • Gateway Theatre of Shopping
  • Pearls of Umhlanga Mall
  • Ballito Mall
  • Ballito Junction
  • Ballito Lifestyle Centre

Where to eat on the North Coast

  • The Press Club, Umhlanga: for an eclectic menu
  • The Chef’s Table, Umhlanga: for innovative cuisine from Eat Out rising star winner Kayla-Ann Osborn
  • Hudsons The Burger Joint, Umhlanga: for great burgers and craft beers
  • Mundo Vida, Umdloti: for amazing prawns
  • Bel Punto, Umdloti: for contemporary seafood dining
  • Beira Alta, Ballito: for Portuguese cuisine with an African influence
  • Fiamma Grill, Ballito: for a varied menu of excellent food and drinks

property area statistics

This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.

View more of the Umhlanga neighbourhood here:

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Explore neighbourhoods mentioned in this article

Umdloti to Westbrook
Luxury by the Sea
Umdloti is a small resort town, with two commercial centres, a post office and several restaurants. Umdloti is famous for dolphins and whale watching. The area is occupied by a handful of residents and the balance are holiday homes. This neighbourhood offers a safe, secure lifestyle as people walk along the beach road to restaurants and back home at night. La Mercy boasts exclusive homes with an abundance of luxury, while Westbrook attracts the young and successful.
Upmarket Convenience
Upmarket Umhlanga has become the neighbourhood of choice for many who have moved North from more central areas. In Umhlanga you have the beach on your doorstep, along with malls and shopping centres just minutes away. With its top schools, great hospitals, business parks, gated estates, beachfront apartments and coffee shops, Umhlanga is convenience personified. Umhlanga offers a lifestyle for everyone, be it the happily retired, the on-the-go business person or the young and trendy student.