North Beach and Umhalanga Beach, the best areas to stay in Durban
Located on Durban’s Golden Mile, a long string of golden beaches backed by a bustling beachfront promenade, hotels, restaurants and a lively entertainment scene makes North Beach and Umhalanga Beach popular areas to stay in Durban.
Stretching from the Blue Lagoon's fishing spot to the sunken Vetch's Pier, Durban’s network of inviting beaches is a magnet for water sports enthusiasts, in particular surfers. There are numerous hotels in the North Beach area that cater to all budgets, as well as excellent transport links to other parts of the city. The North Beach is located in the heart of Durban’s Golden Mile and offers an unbeatable location that is within walking distance of the city centre (about 30 minutes or 5 minutes by taxi). It also has good bus links to the rest of the city. While away an afternoon in Durban’s Botanical Gardens, Africa’s oldest surviving botanical garden and wonderland of indigenous and exotic plants, or pay a visit to the colourful Indian Quarter where you can bargain for handicrafts, spices and souvenirs. You can also journey beneath the surface of the ocean at the uShaka Marine World, a 40-acre theme park, which remains one of Durban’s star attractions.
North Beach is Durban’s prime spot to do body boarding. This large, immaculate beach is lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean meaning you can enjoy safe swimming conditions and have access to umpteen water sports activities, including surfing and body boarding. Lifeguards are on duty most of the day and shark nets protect the area from any unwanted guests.
You will find a selection of cafes, bars and restaurants where you can sink into a chair on a terrace while facing out over fabulous sunset panoramas. During summer, this area also plays host to the Durban July Surfing Extravaganza.
Umhalanga Beach is Durban’s premier upscale resort, about 15 minutes north of central Durban. This affluent resort and residential area stretches a staggering 200km up to meet the spectacular World Heritage site, Isimangaliso Wetland Park. It comprises of two beaches, the Bronze Beach in the north and the Main Beach in the Centre. The beaches have both been awarded blue flags for their pristine water and sand. Lifeguards patrol the area most of the day and it has been deemed suitable for children. The beachfront is lined with some of the most highly sought after hotels and apartments as well as a fun promenade teeming with restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs.
Just inland you can visit the mesmerising Valley of a Thousand Hills, a mystical area where densely undulating hills dotted with sugarcane plantations, viewpoints, gorges and tiny villages surround where Zulu people still live in traditional dwellings and where you can witness ancestral dancing and rituals.
Those looking for retail therapy will not be disappointed at Umhalanga Beach if they visit the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, the largest shopping mall in the southern hemisphere! With 18 movie theatres, a playhouse, more than ninety restaurants, more than 400 stores, an arcade and theme park, a 4000 square metre skate park designed by Tony Hawk no less, the highest fountain in Africa, a tenpin bowling ally and a science theme park, this colossal shopping mall is easily comparable to a small city.