How to visit Umhlanga without going broke

Posted by Adel Groenewald on 12 August 2013

Many know it as the place where matrics go raving, but for the remaining 51 weeks of the year, Umhlanga Rocks is actually a very friendly and rather pretty little holiday town just north of Durban. With a sandy beach that stretches all along its coastline and water that won’t frost the tips of your toes, this is one of those places where you can actually strut around in your shorts for most of the year.

It’s also pricey. The most obvious accommodation is in the luxury resorts lined up along the coast and hungry tummies are shown to the cobblestoned Chartwell Street, almost entirely dedicated to expensive restaurants.

Digging a little deeper, I put together a few places for eating, drinking and sleeping that won’t max out your credit card. You’ll also find inspiration for that one evening that you allow yourself to splash out a little.


Where to eat in Umhlanga


Surf life saving club

life savers

Life Saver’s, as locals fondly refer to it, doesn’t offer you top class service, but the fish is deliciously fresh and the drinks are cold. You order and pay (with cash) at the hatch, buy a drink at the bar, find a wooden bench on the balcony and watch the waves until your impressively proportioned plates of food arrive.

Find it along the Promenade as you walk north from the lighthouse.
Priced between R50 and R80 for a proper portion of seafood and burgers



Get to hang out with the cool crowd in Chartwell Street, while tucking into tasty pizzas and pastas that are decently priced and have authentic Italian toppings. Even in the middle of the week, this is a vibey evening spot, with cheerful music and happy waiters.

Find it on the corner of Chartwell and Umhlanga Rocks Drive.
Priced between R70 and R90 for a pizza that I found difficult to finish in one sitting

Splash out: Harvey’s

harvey's restaurant

Recently relocated from Durban, Harvey’s is the epitome of fine dining. The waiters wear corseted waistcoats, the dishes require explanations and there’s a monstrously elegant chandelier hanging from the roof. But what’s great is that, while the meals are outstanding and gourmet and delicious, the portions are also quite large.

Find it on the corner of Umhlanga Rocks Drive and Ridge Road
Priced between R110 and R180 for a main course


Where to drink in Umhlanga


The George

the george bar

Even though the town’s most popular watering whole is in the infamous Chartwell Street, it’s not expensive – at all. The party tends to flow over into the street when the bar stools and benches outside aren’t enough anymore. It’s probably the busiest place for beer and shots on a Friday night.

Find it in the cobblestoned section of Chartwell Street. It’s hard to miss.



Perhaps recommended more for the guys, Hooters in Umhlanga is a very laid-back spot for drinks (or burgers). It’s also conveniently close to everything, with loads of restaurants below, next to, and across the street from it. And don’t worry girls; it’s really not as bad as they’d want you to believe. You might even enjoy it.

Find it at the Umhlanga Plaza Centre, 2 Lagoon Drive.


Splash out: Elements at Beverley Hills

elements at beverley hills hotel

While the boys are at Hooters, the girls can treat themselves to at least one Cosmo at the Beverley Hills Hotel. The Elements Bar looks out over the ocean and the view is most beautiful in the late afternoon as the sun starts setting – conveniently also the best time of day for cocktails.

Find it on the first floor of the Beverley Hills at the bottom end of Lighthouse Road
Click here to go to Elements’ page on the hotel’s website


Where to sleep


Jessica’s B&B

jessica's bnb

Nothing wrong with supporting one of the longest established B&B’s in town and getting to enjoy a warm welcome and very friendly owners and hosts at the same time. The little cottages are all on the same property as Jessica’s own house, but with private parking and separate entrances. For R50 extra you can tuck into cereals, fruit, toast and any form of bacon and eggs you want in the morning under the boma beside the swimming pool.

Find it at 35 Portland Drive
Priced from R550 a night for a two-sleeper self catering unit


Backpackers on the Beach

durban on the beach backpackers

Umhlanga is not known for its backpackers. In fact, this particular one in Durban North is the closest you’ll find to Umhlanga. Don’t worry; it’s only 5km away. The en suite double rooms and dorms are clean, crisp and bright, the showers are always hot and the breakfast (included) has loads of fresh fruit, toast and cereal to fuel up on. There’s also a bar and a swimming pool. Glenashley Beach is literally across the road.

Find it at 17 The Promenade, Durban North
Priced from R140 for a dorm bed


Splash out: Oyster Box Hotel

oyster box hotel

This may be the pinnacle of luxury in Umhlanga. It’s one of those places where you swim in a heated, private swimming pool while looking at the ocean, where there’s a cinema with all-day movies and free popcorn and sweets, where you can actually throw a stone at the ocean from your balcony and there are three restaurants, three bars and a full spa – all on the same premises.

Find it at 2 Lighthouse Road
Priced in the thousands per night. Make an enquiry and you’ll get an idea.

umhlanga sunrise

Book accommodation in Umhlanga Rocks

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