Visitors guide to Uvongo

Private Property South Africa
Anne Schauffer

This climate, beaches and activities of this charming town offer residents and visitors the perfect lifestyle.

Uvongo is a charming little town tucked away on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Its beach has shark nets and lifeguards, making it an ideal holiday destination for the whole family. With a wide range of holiday accommodation, from nearby caravan and camping parks and simple chalets, to luxury homes with sea views, there’s a holiday home to suit all budgets. Residents and non-resident owners have capitalised on the town’s charm by setting up plenty of bed and breakfasts and self-catering units.

Uvongo is sandwiched between the bigger, brighter towns of Shelley Beach and Margate, which both have large retail centres, movie theatres and a host of restaurants and activities. Margate is known as the South Coast’s sunset strip, so if you’re keen on nightlife, head south. Most people don’t because the charm of Uvongo is in its lack of bright lights, noise or large crowds.

The town lies at the mouth of the Vungu River, vungu being the Zulu word for the sound of a waterfall or wind in a gorge. Uvongo is renowned for its beautiful waterfall which flows into a small gorge near the mouth of the river. The beach is highly popular, not only because it’s well protected and beautiful, but also because it’s perfect for all types of water-based activities. It’s particularly ideal for sitting on a deck chair and watching your children play in the rock pools, or surfers and bodyboarders enjoying the waves.

A visit to Uvongo usually revolves around the beach, which includes year-round dolphin and whale watching, and internationally rated dive sites nearby. Aliwal Shoal off¬ Umkomaas and Scottburgh, as well as Protea Banks on¬ Shelley Beach, have a number of well-respected companies o¬ffering shark cage diving and scuba diving.

Fishing is also popular, as evidenced by the solitary figures you see on the rocks along the beach. It’s an activity that rivals golf. The South Coast has two of the country’s top 10 golf courses. With sea views and so much more to o¬ffer, the numerous superb courses in the area draw visitors from inside and outside South Africa.

There are many unspoilt areas along the South Coast and people come from all over to enjoy the hikes, walks, mountain biking and birding tours (there are 14 accredited guided birding routes in the area).

KwaZulu-Natal’s sub-tropical vegetation and numerous nature reserves, such as the Uvongo River, Umtamvuna and Vernon Crookes, provide superb bird-watching opportunities, with more than 400 bird species. Among the coastal walks is The Saints Walk, which stretches from St Michaels on Sea to Uvongo Beach. Neighbouring St Michael’s on Sea Beach at the mouth of the Umhlangeni River is popular with surfers. The beach is said to o¬ffer one of the country’s best point breaks.

For the many residents, holidaymakers and day visitors, Uvongo o¬ffers the perfect lifestyle.

We retired here three years ago. I’m a golfer and my husband loves to fish. It’s as if we’re on permanent holiday, and the life here costs a fraction of what our life in Durban cost. It’s a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Durban, so we haven’t isolated ourselves either, and the children love to spend the weekend with us.

-Carol Plane, resident.

Things to do on the KZN South Coast:

  • Go bird-watching at the Uvongo River Nature Reserve.
  • Spend the day sunbathing and swimming in the warm waters of Uvongo Beach.
  • Check out the Rotary Craft and Fleamarket every Saturday and Sunday.
  • Enjoy shopping and entertainment at MacBanana Lifestyle Centre.
  • Play a round of golf at one of the many top-class 18-hole golf courses on the South Coast.

Where to stay in Uvongo:

  • Insumi 10
  • 65 Laguna La Crete
  • Stephward Estate Country House
  • Beaumont House
  • Driftsands Sea View Flats

Where to eat on the KZN South Coast:

  • Cbali South Coast Restaurant: for cocktails in a cosy spot
  • Breakers Restaurant: for seafood and meat dishes
  • Pavilion Italian Restaurant: for traditional Italian fare
  • Stephward Estate Restaurant and Tea Garden: for light meals and Sunday roast
  • Mozambik, Uvongo: for tasty Portuguese cuisine

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This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.

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