ROAD TRIP – Sodwana Bay (8)

Aliwal Dive Centre (Umkomaas, South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal)

Welcome to our road trip of December 2021. We are travelling by car across South Africa (from the west coast → north coast → KZN south coast → back to the west coast). The distance we will cover, will be around 5,000km (3,106 miles).

Our main purpose for this trip, besides seeing places we have not seen before, is for Berto to scuba dive in Sodwana Bay and then to be a little more adventurous … diving with sharks in the ocean in Umkomaas on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal. We hope to share lots of pictures to show you our beautiful country.

Accommodation – Day 12 to Day 18:

Aliwal Dive Centre

We are now on the final leg of our December road trip … where did the time go? You know the saying “time flies, when you’re having fun” …

We travelled on the N2 again from Ballito to Umkomaas – only 103km (64 miles) – and reached our destination at lunchtime. Even though we were quite early to check-in to our accommodation, they had no problem taking us to our room. Ahh, a room with a view …

A summer decorated room at Aliwal Dive Centre
Our room with a balcony … and an amazing view over the ocean
The swimming pool might just be THE place for a hot summers’ afternoon

I fell immediately in love with our room at Aliwal Dive Centre! While Berto was diving in the morning, the balcony became my favourite place to read and write, with the sounds of the ocean. And those sunrises … you will see all about it later in this post!

But first things first, as soon as we took all of our luggage to our room at Aliwal Dive Centre, it was time to search for a restaurant to enjoy lunch. The wonderful Cattle & Barrelwas just around the corner from our accommodation and became our favourite restaurant for the rest of the week!

Cattle & Barrel was not shy with their beers!
Our “light” lunch of delicious sandwiches

One thing is for sure … we are not used to the high humidity on this side of South Africa. We were very happy with the swimming pool on the premises of Aliwal Dive Centre. There is a shallow side and then a much deeper side (4m) which mean you can almost dive in the pool!

Time to cool off

Berto also used the swimming pool to test his underwater camera gear … a very valid reason to spent more time in the pool!

I did mention, at the beginning of this post, the spectacular sunrises we witnessed from our balcony … well, it was out of this world. We could not wait to get up in the morning to wait for the sun to rise above the ocean – and that meant we had to get up before 5:00am … but so worth it!

I could actually enjoy the sunrise (and ocean) from the comfort of our bed

The evenings were equally beautiful. We witnessed a few thunderstorms brewing over the ocean late in the evening and enjoyed nature’s spectacle.

While Berto was diving, I enjoyed an early breakfast of rusks and tea on the balcony. But on more than one occasion, I had some hungry visitors and to avoid them, I then had to move back inside … one did manage to steal a ginger cookie for her and the baby!

My early morning breakfast on the balcony (“Ouma” rusks meaning Grandma’s rusks)
Look at that begging face
The mother and baby enjoying a ginger cookie
And this one was totally relaxed in front of our room’s sliding door

On afternoons, when Berto was not diving, we explored more of Umkomaas. This is a small coastal town on the subtropical south coast of KwaZulu-Natal and was formed when a harbour was built in 1861 to export sugar. The town rests beside the mouth of the navigable uMkhomazi River, also known as the Mkhomazi or Umkomaas (thanks Wikipedia).

Cattle & Barrel Restaurant:

The Cattle & Barrel Restaurant

As mentioned earlier, we enjoyed almost every day a meal at the Cattle & Barrel Restaurant. We were totally overwhelmed by the friendliness of the staff and the bonus was their delicious food. We sat many evenings on the outside terrace enjoying meals ranging from seafood to ribs and chips.

The owner Thersia and her righthand man, Matt

We loved the way they served their drinks and food – in very rustic tin cups and tin plates. What a gem this restaurant is here in Umkomaas and we hope they are going from strength to strength, especially during this difficult time that tourism is currently experiencing.

Here are just a few pictures of their amazing food:

What a unique way of presenting coffee

There are so many memories we will take away from our time at Umkomaas … yes, we will get to the amazing diving in the next post … but one thing that just blown us away, was the spectacular sunrises over the ocean we could witness from our balcony at Aliwal Dive Centre!

Blown away by the beauty of nature
A thunderstorm over the ocean
Just so incredibly beautiful

But what else did we do in Umkomaas? Yes, of course, diving with sharks in the ocean! Do not miss our next post that will be filled with amazing images of sharks swimming between divers in the ocean!


42 thoughts on “ROAD TRIP – Sodwana Bay (8)

  1. Julle was gelukkig om so n pragtige uitsig uit julle kamer te kon he! Die sonopkomse was ongelooflik mooi! Dis ook mooi om die storm weer oor die see dop te hou! Die humiditeit die tyd van die jaar kan verskriklik wees. Ek hou niks daarvan nie. Sien uit om meer van die haai duikery te lees!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ja Aletta, dit was so ‘n verrassing om hierdie mooi uitsig te he! Sjoe, ons het omtrent gesweet van daardie hitte … dis so vreemd, want hier aan die Weskus kan dit warmer wees, maar ons kry nie so warm soos daar aan die Ooskus nie! Ons is besig om die haai foto’s te finaliseer – ek’s seker jy gaan baie daarvan hou (en dalk ook, soos ek, bly wees dis nie ekself wat in die water saam met hulle was nie 😉).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Talk about a room with a view!! What better way to start the day than by watching a beautiful sunrise. That’s definitely great motivation to get up early. The picture of the monkey with her baby is so adorable. Looking forward to reading about your next post about Berto diving with the sharks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, loved our early mornings on the balcony! I know the monkeys are such a nuisance, but some of them are just so adorable (not when they steal my ginger cookie though 😄). I think you will love the shark diving post … it’s not as colourful as Sodwana, but it’s in its own way quite amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sodwana Bay is an absolute favourite … that’s why we keep going back every year! But I must admit, now that we also visited Umkomaas, it’s equally as good 😉. Oh great, I’m glad you too know Ouma rusks – can’t go anywhere on a trip and not having a box of Ouma rusks with you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely Sarah – I never complained about getting up so early … I loved every morning to watch the sun rises over the ocean! Those pesky monkeys … but I just could not be angry with them, they are way too cute (oh yes, that baby was adorable)!

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  3. What a glorious sunrise to wake up to. What time did it come light there, hope it wasn’t too early. Monkeys are pesky the world over and I’m glad you only lost one biscuit. The Cattle and Barrel pub restaurant looks very cosy and the food plentiful and delicious too. Really enjoying this series of posts!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Marion, sunrise was a wee bit early … 4:50am to be precise! But at least I could watch the sun rising over the ocean from the comfort of our bed 😊. Oh, those monkeys – they are sneaky little buggers (I know they can be a pest, but oh my, so cute)! The Cattle & Barrel’s food (and service) was absolutely amazing – maybe another reason why we enjoyed our stay at Umkomaas so much! I’m really glad you enjoy our road trip – thank you once again for coming along 🌸.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. These days I am land-locked but much of my life was spent quite close to one ocean or another and I do miss that even though I am very happy here. There is something energizing about a thunderstorm out over the ocean and watching the sun rise and set….how can one not worship Nature. Thank you for your lovely posts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We have always, since I can remember, stayed close to the ocean … and I love the sound and smell of the ocean! You speak an absolute truth about Nature’s power and beauty – that’s my happy place! I’m so glad you enjoy the posts about our road trip … thank you for still coming along!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a magnificent sunrise that must have been to witness in person. The first monkey seems to be
    so patient with his posture and expression. I’m guessing that quickly changed if a cookie was stolen. The digs and bites look wonderful and I do enjoy an epic thunderstorm (from a safe distance).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely Leighton – beautiful sunrises … you just need to be able to get up before 5:00am to witness it! Those monkeys are so funny (and sneaky)! It was great to take some pics from them being so close to the camera (or even closer to the packet of ginger cookies)!
      Am I right that you and Sladja are somewhere in the UK right now? I hope you are having a great time – happy New Year … and hopefully happy travels as well 🎉.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love the pictures of those monkeys… and the sunrise! So stunning… I have never seen the sunrise. Maybe something I need to do at some point in 2022, just need to be able to escape to the perfect place 🙂

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  7. So much exciting and fun you get to experience on your road trips. You are really good at describing and showing pictures so the rest of us can take part in what you are involved in, what you think and what it looks like. And it’s very convenient and interesting for me to “travel with you” in front of the computer 😅 Thanks for that and I wish you both an exciting and eventful year 2022!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Anita! I’m so glad you could go with us on our road trip … even if it’s just while sitting in front of your computer 😉. We have enjoyed this trip so much – saw places in our own country we have only heard of before … we just love a good road trip!
      And thanks for your lovely wishes – the very same to you 🥂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You were in the perfect spot. I love the sunrises and ocean views you can see from the balcony and even your bed. Cattle & Barrel reminds me of our favorite restaurant in Talkeetna, Alaska. South African food is my kind of food.😋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those sunrises … probably my highlight on this road trip! We’re almost ready to get to our “shark post” – I’m sure you’ll find it interesting (and hopefully not thinking about the movie “Jaws” when looking at the pictures)!

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