A South Coast Vacation: Some Much-needed Vitamin Sea!

Umzumbe resort is a great destination for a South Coast vacation. Image: Victor Helberg

Woosh! There I glide over the waves on my boogieboard. We all need a break away from home and when it comes to destinations for our holidays, South Africans are spoiled for choice. Some getaways are adventurous, swinging off cliffs and stopping at every attraction in the area. Others are chilled, filled with reading, late mornings and board games. My South Coast vacation was the best of both.

It was 10 hours to our destination, from Potchefstroom to Umzumbe on the South Coast. What a long journey. My joints were stiff when we stopped halfway at Harrismith One Stop for breakfast. After a delicious breakfast and bottomless coffee at Mugg & Bean, we set off again.

There was a delicious breakfast at Mugg & Bean. Image: Victor Helberg

Once we arrived at our destination, we immediately felt the warm humid air in our lungs and the sea breeze ruffling our hair. Umzumbe Chalets near Hiberdene is a self-catering resort with 56 ocean-view chalets surrounded by an indigenous forest with animals like the bushbuck roaming free.

We chose to go to the South Coast because the ocean is warm and there are various beaches where you can swim. Swimming and boogie boarding is what my family love to do. Potchefstroom is landlocked and swimming in a dam or river is not the same as the massive, exciting ocean. Why did we choose Umzumbe? We have a dedicated timeshare week for a chalet there. What we like about Umzumbe Chalets and Umzumbe Beach is that it is a safe area and has a lot of greenery around. In Potchefstroom, we are used to brown grass and pale green bushes this time of year. September is known as the rainy season on the South Coast, but we had some weeks in previous years where it was sunny the whole week. So, we chose the timeshare week in September because it was not burning hot and super busy like in December when most people take their vacation days.

Umzumbe chalets are self-catering and spacious. Image: Victor Helberg

Luck was against us the first day we arrived, though. We wanted to go swimming in the ocean this Saturday but it was pouring. But Umzumbe made up for the dismal weather. How exactly? Whales! Umzumbe waters are home to Humpback whales. With the splashing and spewing water, we could see the whales having a party in the rain.

It may not be the thing of postcard pictures but sitting back in your accommodation comes highly recommended. Holidays are for relaxing, after all. After we got back to the chalet we sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the 1984 Dune movie since we watched the 2021 Dune earlier this year. For an old movie, the CGI was really good but I found the acting a little bland.

Sunday brought us a hot sunny day and finally, we could go to the beach. Umzumbe Beach or Pumula Beach is a blue flag beach with a tidal pool, no lagoon and cover from wind. Surfers dotted the ocean, zipping back and forth on the waves. My father and I took our boogieboards to the little bay next to the swimming area where other boogie boarders were enjoying the waves. We rode some very big and rushing waves. Zipping across the waves was really fun and a lot of exercise.

For Sunday lunch on our South Coast vacation, there’s no place like Jaxx Restaurant in Umtentweni, Port Shepstone. Jaxx is a fancy restaurant with a patio looking over the ocean. With cuisine from pizza to fillet, it caters to all. I ate a Cambert cheese, bacon and fig jam burger with chips. It was one of the most delicious burgers I have ever eaten.  Eating such a delicious meal while looking at the whales splashing in the ocean is really an experience I recommend. No Sunday meal is complete without pudding; double chocolate mousse with ice cream filled my soul and stomach.

Watching movies and playing boardgames help to relax on holiday. Image: Victor Helberg

You would think that after such a meal we would take a nap or watch a movie. No. We are a board game family!  The rainy weather and spacious lounge were perfect for the settlers of Catan: Cities and Knights edition.

The next day graced us with more sun. The wind almost blew us off the hill at our chalet. Because of the wind, the sea was a little rougher. This made the waves more enjoyable. I felt like a rocket as I was launched towards the beach!

The benefit of self-catering is that you can take your time to prepare meals that you may not always have time to do at home. My father, a total potjie master, started preparing a classic South African potjie filled with delicious meat, vegetables and homemade sourdough dumplings. My mouth watered as we served the food. It smelled divine. It tasted even better.

The next day was raining. So, we went to Port Shepstone Spar and ate lunch at Harbourview Coffee Shop. I cannot describe how disappointing it was, especially compared to the feast we had the previous day at Jazz Restaurant. The food was cold, ungarnished and seemed to have been made with old oil. Perhaps we caught the restaurant on an off day but, given our poor experience, we’re unlikely to be back to find out.

Blooms and Shrooms is a quirky organic nursery that’s a lot of fun to wander around. Image: Victor Helberg

To celebrate my parents’  31st anniversary on the 28th of September, we decided to celebrate with an adventure with the Münchner Haus as our destination On our way we spotted colourful dotted mushrooms. We had to stop at Blooms and Shrooms with the Mad Hatters Cafe. With lots of funny signs, statues, flowers and a fantasy forest feeling, it felt like we fell into Wonderland.

Saint Michaels is home to the German restaurant, Münchner Haus, so we celebrated my parent’s anniversary with a hearty meal:  We had some pork Schnitzels with Spaetzle (like German pasta). My schnitzel was cut up and served with a delicious mushroom sauce and a sweet potato rosti (like a hashbrown). Wow! But it couldn’t be a celebration without pudding. I satisfied my sweet tooth with chocolate, caramel and strawberry-coated ice cream Italian kisses with more ice cream.

This German restaurant boasts a mouth-watering menu. Image: Victor Helberg

The weather in Umzumbe in September really keeps you on your toes. The wind was blowing on Thursday but we decided to go to the beach. We were barely in the water for an hour. Cold, rough and powerful, not pleasant at all.

But then there are days like Friday that you’ll always remember! The sun was shining and there was no wind to speak of. Boogieboard, let’s go! We were in the ocean for 2 hours! It was wonderful. Dashing back and forth, sliding and gliding across the waves. Large waves, tiny waves, rough waves and calm relaxing waves. It was not only us at the beach but about a dozen surfers enjoying their best life.

In the late afternoon, I went for a relaxing walk. The friendly resort cat was lazing about but I also spotted some wilder animals. Umzumbe chalets are home to bushbucks, duikers and impalas. Unfortunately, only the bushbuck kept still as I took photos. The rest of the animals ran away deeper into the lush chalet grounds but spotting them was really special. Walking in the grounds is the perfect experience to let go of all your thoughts and just enjoy being around nature.

Come Saturday, we sadly and slowly packed our bags. We were not happy going back to Potchefstroom, since the temperatures we had become used to were nice, cool and wet at 24 degrees and Potchefstroom had hot, dry weather with up to 36 degrees. We were comforted to see, though, that it was pouring — at least we are not missing a swim day.

This vacation was really needed. It helped refresh our energy and minds. I really recommend the Umzumbe Chalets and the area around there for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation.  Despite the changing weather, this South Coast vacation exceeded our expectations.

Activities for Your Own South Coast Vacation

We went to Umzumbe more for a restful experience than anything else, but for you more adventurous people, there are various activities that you can do:

  • Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve and tours
  • Oribi Abseiling
  • Oribi White River Rafting
  • Lake Eland Game Reserve
  • Uzumbe Surf Camp
  • Uzumbe Surfing School
  • Blue Wilderness Boat Rides
  • Blue Wilderness Swim with Sharks
  • HOHM Yoga and Wellness Sanctuary
  • Umzumbe Equine Centre

Victor Helberg

Victor has a degree in journalism from North-West University. He is an adventurous person who loves new and interesting experiences, cultures and people. His dream is to travel South Africa and write about our wonderful country.

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