48 hours in Durban

umhlangas-whale-bone-styled-pier-image-from-cnn-com

Umhlanga’s whale bone styled pier Image: CNN.com

Part 1 of the Doing Durban in 48 hours series.

As Durbanites brace themselves for the influx of GP number plates that are heading to our coast this December, I thought I’d welcome the visitors who have a limited time to spend in Durban with this post.

 

You’re Doing Durban in 48 hours 🙂 

 

Get ready to round up the BFF’s and make the 600 km road-trip (or 45 minute flight) to the slice of coastal heaven that I call home – eThekwini Municipality.

That’s Durban, Bru.

Buckle up. I’ll drive.

For the next 48 hours, you’re doing Durban with me!

Saturday 6.30am

You’re refreshed.
Having watched an epic sunrise on the inimitable Umhlanga Beach, you’ve downward-dogged and cobra-posed your back-aches away on those biscuit toned shores.
You needed it after that drive.

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Iconic lighthouse on Umhlanga beach

A popular tidal pool and one of my favourite chill spots at Umhlanga Beach is Granny’s Pool. With water knee deep, it’s also perfect for the little budding surfers to get used to the warm Indian Ocean current that flows along our coastline.

Saturday, 8am – 9am

You’re quite chuffed at the Vitality points you’ve earned after hitting the 5km Park Run at 8am, departing from the architectural beaute’ that is the Umhlanga Pier. It was voted ‘most beautiful pier in the world’ by CNN after being ‘discovered’ by one of their freelance writers. In addition to being aesthetically appealing with its’ distinctive whale-bone design, it’s totally insta-worthy and also acts as an extension of an underground conduit that assists with moving excess storm water from the land into the ocean.

You’ve earned yourself the most delectable cappuccino and an even better view.

Saturday, 9am – 10.30am

I’ve reserved our table at Lighthouse Cafe on the Umhlanga promenade. Mosey on over to our spot on their raised terrace, soak in some rays and wait for your choice of brekkie and a cuppa. Lighthouse Café offers a variety of breakfast options but I absolutely adore their avocado and chicken wrap with a side of shoe string fries.

View from Lighthouse Cafe

View from Lighthouse Cafe

Oh! Watch out for the pair of Labradors, the Chihuahua and the Jack Russel tied to the balustrade on your way up – they were here before you! Durban is home to some pretty awesome pet friendly spots and it’s not uncommon to find pooches along the Umhlanga promenade cafes too.

Fuelled up, we’re ready to go again.

 

Saturday, 10.30am to 2.30pm

What would you prefer?
A hike through the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve?

Strolling across a seemingly precarious but really quite stable wooden bridge over the Ohlange River, this hour long hike will see you surrounded by lush greenery, birds and duikers.

The hike ends back on the beach where your darling wife’s surprise is being set-up. (You’ve forgotten your anniversary, I know. And I’ve got you covered, but more about this later.)

view-from-the-boardwalk-of-the-ohlange-river-image-from-ukuhlola-co-za

View from the boardwalk of the Ohalange River. Image from Ukuhlola.co.za

Or shall we go whale and dolphin watching?
Let us do both.

The Umhlanga Ocean Charters (UOC) speed boat that launches surf into prime dolphin and whale watching waters is situated at Granny’s Pool. Look out for the gazebo with the crew waiting to sign you up atleast 30 minutes before your intended charter.

It’s R250.00 per person for an hour or R500 per person for 2 hours.

UOC is almost directly opposite the ever so larnie Pearls of Umhlanga apartment block. It’s the only sky scraper on the Umhlanga strip, with blue tinted windows being the distinctive feature on this twin tower block. She’s quite the looker too and one of my favourite blocks in Durbs.

You HAVE to stop and admire its’ Top Billing worthy look.

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Pearls of Umhlanga. Image from Umhlanga UIP

Saturday, 2.30pm – 4pm

Famished again after our hike and ocean top safari, lets grab a late lunch.

I’m partial to fresh Asian flavours so Kung Thai, just a little walk up the road from the promenade into the Umhlanga Village strip, is my choice. There is nothing quite like their divine beach garden salad. Succulent bits of chicken, tossed with juicy whole plump prawns, served on a bed of flash fried rice-flour-coated spinach, drizzled with a delicious sweet and tangy sauce with julienned carrots and onions in the mix. Follow this with THE.BEST.EVER pad thai chicken for an exceptionally satisfying lunch.

Prawn Pad Thai from Kung Thai

Prawn Pad Thai from Kung Thai

But maybe you’d prefer Greek?

I’ve got just the spot – Gazi! Traditional Greek fare that is absolutely divine! It’s right next to Kung Thai and you can enjoy al fresco lunching on the side walk at both places.

Tip: Order the mezze platter for two as a starter if you’re in a group of three to four people. It’s an ample portion with keftedes (Greek meatballs), and other delights to whet your palette. That platter is a microcosm of the entire menu (more or less), so once you satisfy your curiosity about what’s a “dolmades”, you will be able to make a more ‘palette informed’ choice of what to order as your main. They make a mean souvlaki too. So good. So so good. (Dolmades, as served at Gazi, are little mince stuffed pockets, which pockets are made from fresh vine leaves.)

Saturday, 4.15pm

Dessert is on Meridian Drive at Old Town Italy. It’s just up the road from Umhlanga Village, behind Gateway. We’re going for their ‘conuts.’ You know those popular sugar coated ring donuts? Well these guys have taken the ring doughnut, re-shaped it into an ice cream cone and then serve it topped with your choice of ice cream! You’re welcome.

Conut from Old Town Italy

Conut from Old Town Italy

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Not from Old Town Italy but you get the idea

5pm – 7.30pm

By this time you can choose to have a nap OR you can visit one of my favourite and most reasonably priced spa’s in Durban – Fleur De Lis Spa situated at the Coastlands Hotel in Umhlanga. Nothing sounds better than a full body massage after an action packed morning. I especially enjoy their spa bath to drift away and relax. Take a look at their website for specials. They also have a branch at the Coastlands on Ridge Road. 

7.30pm – 9.30pm

Dinner is at Ile Maurice. A multi award winning little French-Mauritian spot at Mc Causland Crescent in Umhlanga. It offers an elegant setting with a stunning view. (Leave your flip flops at the hotel). Ask to be seated outside – it’s the perfect time of year to enjoy the Durban evening warmth as well. My favourite starter is their gratin de crabe. It’s fresh crab meat simmered in a light béchamel sauce served in it’s shell with chapelure (which is essentially bread-crumbs) but I assure you, this simple sounding dish is divine! Feel free to peruse their menu to see if anything piques your appetite, but we’re really going for the langoustines!

Your anniversary surprise?
Under the light of a thousand stars in a setting that’s sure to inspire another Ed Sheeren hit, enjoy a candle lit Arabian themed anniversary dessert.
With fluffy throw cushions to rest on while exfoliating those tired feet on the sand, as soft waves ebb and flow a stone’s throw away you can set-up the ultimate romantic gesture for your partner by calling Zain Moosa from “I’m the Guy”.

By this stage I know when 3’s a crowd but I will leave you with a final suggestion for the evening, should you wish to dance the night away…

11pm

Sugar Reef Social Club at the Point Waterfront is a hot, stunning, brand new spot to channel your inner Tony Manero and dance the night away. (C’mon? Saturday Night Fever? John Travolta? Tough crowd. )

Other stops to consider in Umhlanga:

Sundowners at the Beverley Hills Hotel or the Oyster Box Hotel. 

Dinner at the magical Chefs Table 

Tomorrow, we’re Doing Morningside and surrounds. Stay tuned !

All my best,

Lovanya

Doing Durban is absolutely excited and proud to share that a complete version of this article is featured in the December edition of the high end leisure publication that is “Joburg Style Magazine”.  It is a print and online publication that you absolutely have to get your hands on each quarter. This month is their ‘best of’ edition.  Get your copies in store from next week (12th December onwards)! 

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