Umhlanga, Durban

About Umhlanga Lighthouse

The place of light in the 'Place of Reeds' (Zulu translation of the word Umhlanga) shines from the white lighthouse with a topside red stripe. Beached facing the sunrise it acts on the red sky that may serve as a sailors' warning and shines a bright welcome to the bustling port of Durban, much to sailors' delight. The familiar sight from portholes passing by is also the familiar subject of postcards of passers-by.

The Umhlanga Lighthouse is fully automated though its form is hand captured by local artists whose works are sold to foreigners chartering international waters with framed fragile portraits of this sturdy structure. Mistress of memorabilia and master of light since 1954, this 21m high circular concrete tower has a light range of 24 sea miles at a focal plane height of 25 meters above high sea level. It has never been attended by a lighthouse keeper with the official warden residing at the adjacent original beach cottage of the area, now the Oyster Beach Hotel.

Portnet Lighthouse Service receives status reports of this nautical guardian from the control office located at the hotel. This sea-side holiday destination offers warm swimming waters for sun worshippers and the occasional Indian Ocean lashing by King Neptune for seafarers. Treacherous waters carry danger in the South Eastern coast currents that flow alongside the KwaZulu Natal beach belt. The crumbling condition of the original Durban Bluff Lighthouse commissioned the construction of this maritime guardian with a light power of 600 000 CD, group flashing three every twenty seconds. The revolving electric light beacon operates off the mains supply with one diesel alternator back-up power supply. An additional red light feature fixed to the lighthouse acts as a secondary warning system to ships waiting in the outer anchorage of the busy Durban Harbour.

The position of an anchored ship awaiting its tug can be monitored by its visibility of this red light. Should the light come into the ship's visual range this sighting will confirm that the ship's anchor has dragged and that immediate action needs to be taken to avoid further drifting into the rocks that form part of Umhlanga's apt full name Umhlanga-Rocks. Pack a picnic, share the sand between your toes with the sand beneath the glow. Have the kids compete to build a sandcastle replica of this coastal column while you hold sea-shells to your ear and listen to the sounds of sea.

Need to Know

WhereEast Lagoon Drive, Umhlanga, Durban, KwaZulu Natal.

WhenDaylight for building visibility, night time for light visibility.

How muchFree

OvernightThe closest town is Umhlanga, in KwaZulu Natal

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