Spotlight on Umhlanga Rocks
Its combination of seaside-resort charm and 21st-century living makes uMhlanga Rocks one of Durban’s most popular and sought after 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.
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, fourbathroom 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.
Text: Candice Botha
Photographs: Sally Chance; supplied; Gallo Images / Jasper Junien / Getty Images