Hard to believe that Umhlanga, the buzzing residential, commercial and resort suburb just outside of Durban, was once a seaside resort town called Umhlanga Rocks. During the early seventies it merged with La Lucia to become what it is today - Umhlanga - pronounced Umshlanga and meaning "place of reeds" in Zulu.
Things have changed rather radically since the town acquired its suburban status. It remains a highly popular seaside resort, its wide, sandy beaches lined with exclusive hotels and apartment blocks, the beaches filled with umbrellas and sun worshippers, whilst locals enthusiastically walk the promenade at sundown. However, business has relocated here from central Durban, in a similar fashion to Sandton in Johannesburg, and Durban International Airport is set to move to La Mercy nearby.
Umhlanga Lighthouse, Umhlanga Rocks The residential aspect of Umhlanga too has grown incredibly. Gated communities and luxury estates have sprawled their way across the suburb, and in particular, Umhlanga Ridge, which used to be largely sugarcane, is now a much sought-after retail, office and residential area due in no small part to the incredible views over the Indian Ocean.
Gateway Shopping Centre, one of the biggest shopping centres in the country, means that, whilst staying in Umhlanga, one has little reason to venture elsewhere. The O'Connor promenade that stretches from Durban View Park all the way to Breakers and the start of the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, provides a wonderful way to stretch one's legs right at the sea, past the famous Umhlanga Lighthouse, and numerous excellent restaurants pose only the dilemma of which to choose for dinner.