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:
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 …
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!
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!
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!
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!
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:
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.
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:
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!
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!