Its combination of seaside-resort charm and 21st-century living makes Umhlanga Rocks one of Durban’s most popular suburbs.
One of Durban’s most upmarket suburbs, Umhlanga Rocks started out as a little seaside resort village only accessible via a road winding through the sugarcane fields. although it maintains the holiday feel of yesteryear, there is much more to the area today. "Umhlanga combines first-world living standards with a casual, cool vibe," says principal of Pam Golding Properties Umhlanga, Elwyn Schenk. "The village presents a vibrant yet casual and easy lifestyle that is palpable to all who visit. In contrast, the Gateway precinct has developed its own personality around the 'live, work, play' lifestyle. In between is Umhlanga Ridge, comprising upmarket homes, many of which enjoy expansive sea views as the ridge rises quite sharply above the coast."
The suburb extends from La Lucia in the south to the Hawaan forest and lagoon in the north, and includes the New Town precinct around Gateway and Prestondale to the west. The focus is still firmly on the beach and leisure activities, the excellent restaurants, ritzy hotels such as the famed Beverly Hills and the magnificent Oyster Box, and exclusive boutiques. The promenade has undergone a facelift recently and is the place to run or stroll while enjoying the spectacular ocean views. The beaches are some of KZN’s most popular, although arriving early is imperative as the sand is relatively limited in some areas.
Gateway and its surrounds offer yet more leisure opportunities with a host of shops and restaurants. Mark White, real estate broker with Tyson Properties Umhlanga Rocks, adds, "The last decade has seen enormous growth in Umhlanga, and the commercial growth of the service industries on the Ridge have brought an influx of professionals into the area." With easy access to the new King Shaka International Airport and Umhlanga and La Lucia ridge office parks, the suburb is exceptionally well-situated. The Ruth First highway and N2 are the main arteries for travel in Durban, and Umhlanga is easily accessible from both.
Umhlanga attracts a variety of buyers from first-time homeowners and out-of-towners looking for a holiday home to families looking for large, freestanding homes. although holiday makers own over 50% of the beachfront properties, the majority of properties in the greater Umhlanga area are now primary residences. "The Umhlanga New Town Centre apartments attract first-time homebuyers and young people working in the service industries on the ridge. retired people usually choose to live in the Umhlanga town centre area, while the professional clientele look more towards the freestanding homes on the ridge," explains White. Schenk says that Umhlanga that buyers looking for an apartment under R1 million will find something near Gateway, while families looking for a freestanding, suburban home can expect to find homes on sale for between R3,5 million and R22 million, with apartments at a variety of prices also on offer.
White says the most sought-after addresses in the area are Chartwell and Burnham drives for freestanding houses, and the Pearls, the Oysters, Northshore, Seashore and Casa Playa apartment blocks. "Top-end gated estates such as the Executive and Hawaan forest estate boast some of the most expensive property on the KZN coast, while the multibillion rand Pearls of Umhlanga development has forever changed the skyline in the most positive way," he adds.
At a glance
According to Schenk there are four broad price categories in Umhlanga:
- Starter apartments near Gateway, all within walking distance of the centre, range from R900 000 to R2,6 million.
- Apartments on Lagoon Drive, many with direct beach access, range in price from R3 million to R10 million. Apartments in the exclusive Oysters precinct on the south (quieter) side of Umhlanga, adjoining La Lucia, sell for R3,5 million to R18 million.
- Freestanding homes in lower Umhlanga are valued at about R10 million for a four bedroom, four bathroom house right on the beach.
- In upper Umhlanga, a suburban precinct, homes are priced from R3,5 million to R21,5 million, and many have sweeping sea views.
Neighbourhood sales records
- A penthouse in the highly sought-after Oysters complex sold for R36 million.
- The highest rental recorded was r35 000 per month for a house in Prestondale.
- The quickest sale recorded by pam golding properties Umhlanga was 1 The Firs, Somerset Park, which sold within 24 hours of being listed.
Hippest place to live?
Umhlanga’s newest mixed-use development is Beacon Rock, home to Mini, Rolls-Royce and Maclaren outlets, plus high-quality apartments, all five minutes’ walk from the beach. So beautiful are the complexes that an offshore client of PGP purchased an apartment ‘sight unseen’.
What’s a UIP?
Umhlanga boasts an Urban Improvement Precinct (UIP), focused on delivering superior public areas that are cleaner, green and safe. the area’s crime rate is one of the lowest in the country.
It’s the latest development in Umhlanga’s Ridgeside Precinct from VSM Investments, with 79 apartments (with one, two or three bedrooms) as well as penthouse apartments, with ground-floor retail space. rockridge.co.za
Umhlanga is a growing metropolis on the beachfront – a combination of Sandton in Johannesburg and Clifton in Cape Town, with better weather and a village atmosphere
– Mark White, real estate broker with Tyson Properties uMhlanga Rocks.
Did you know?
- 200 000m2 of prime mixed-use real estate is to be developed within the node over the next five years, much of it by Tongaat Hulett.
- A new private hospital is also built by Jt ross.
- The Ethekwini municipality has invested over R100 million in infrastructure upgrades over the past six years including the promenade rebuild and village CBD rejuvenation. Municipal investment continues with the upgrade of the main beach amenities’ building commencing this year, and planning underway for significant upgrades to the Umhlanga Rocks Lifesaving Club building at Grannies’ Pool and Mccausland Crescent, the primary gateway to the promenade between the Pearls of Umhlanga and the Beverley Hills Hotel.
Where to stay?
Its two five-star hotels are right on the beach and a stone’s throw from each other: the Beverley Hills (tsogosunhotels.com) and The Oyster Box (oysterboxhotel.com), both loved by locals and well-heeled travellers. but, umhlanga’s lesser known gem is Teremok Marine (teremok.co.za), an intimate boutique hotel.
Go for the 75-minute Hammam Ceremony at The Oyster Box’s serenely beautiful spa where, once warmed by the relaxing humidity of the Hammam, you’re treated to a massage with heated lemons used to penetrate sore muscles, followed by a cane-sugar and coconut-oil cleanse, leaving skin feeling moist and pampered. Heavenly.
Canine guests at the Oyster Box enjoy a ‘pet friendly’ menu. Woof waffles (grilled waffles, boerewors and gravy) are a hit, as is fresh salmon with cream for kitties.
- Leon Schuster owns a holiday home in Umhlanga
- Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco celebrated their marriage with a reception at the Oyster Box Hotel, which regularly hosts illustrious guests from film stars to heads of state.
- Cricketer Hashim Amla lives here, and Shaun Pollock is regularly spotted in the area.
- Prince Harry has often stayed in Umhlanga as the family of his ex-girlfriend, Chelsea Davy, own an apartment on the beachfront.
Where to eat?
Umhlanga Village, an area of around one square kilometre has no fewer than 50 restaurants and bars. Remo’s Villagio is well loved for its Italian Bistro fare, but don’t miss executive chef Kevin Joseph’s curry at The Oyster Box.
Take a journey through the Umhlanga neighbourhood here: