A lovely 2.5 km walk each way along a pretty promenade with the iconic Umghlanga Lighthouse and the Whale Bone Pier along the way.
This is a great place for jogging and cycling too. Most of the promenade is shaded by canopying trees. There are benches along the way to catch your breath or just sit enjoying the view.
On one side is development including the prestigious Oyster Box and Beverley Hills hotels. On the other side is the ocean, the lighthouse and the pier. Early morning has the benefit of sunrise over the Indian Ocean.
Lush indigenous sand dune type vegetation grows alongside the pretty brick paved route. It is safe as well patrolled by security companies.
The ocean views are good all along this walkway, including, usually many ships on the horizon waiting to go into the Durban harbour.
Stretches from Durban View Road in the south, to just passed Breakers Resort, before the Hawaan Forest.
The uMhlanga Lighthouse was built in 1954 to replace the 1869 Bluff Lighthouse which had deteriorated irreparably. It is picture postcard pretty and as a lighthouse should look.
The Whalebone Pier. This actually is the stormwater outlet for the area, which has affectionately been named the Whalebone Pier.
Walk along the pier for lovely views up and down the coast as well as back towards uMhlanga. There are beautiful works of mosaic art designed originally by architect Jane du Randt which are like decorative Zulu warrior shields.
More detail on the Whalebone Pier design:
This 80 meter long pier was declared as #1 on CNN’s list of the 9 most beautiful piers in the world in 2014, after this network also proclaimed Durban as one of the world’s most underrated cities!
Surprising given this is a concrete and metal structure. Its history is interesting. Needing an effective stormwater outlet well away from the high water mark, the municipalities engineering department approached
Andre Duvenage, of the Architects Collaborative, to undertake the design.
He came up with what from the outside looked like a streamlined trough or shallow boat hull. But it was in fact a double-box section, with two 2.8-metre x 1.6-metre voids to carry the stormwater.
This formed the structural backbone of the pier and takes the water from the culvert to a double-barrelled sea-monster of an outlet mouth, beyond the last column. Here it falls into a natural gully in the surf zone.
If it hasn’t been raining and volumes are low, the water trickles away out of sight, down a tube cast into the final column.
A deck covers the trough and extends outwards at the sides of the pier. This creates a generous walkway, 1.7-metres wider at its end than at the shore. The pier ends with a 7.5-metre cantilevered viewing platform.
The whale-bone pier rests on just six widely-spaced columns. This gives beach goers plenty of room to pass or play beneath.
Beams atop the columns and rib elements wrap around under the trough, extending up to the deck, to stiffen the construction.
At the deck ends of these, Duvenage anchored 16 pairs of masts. Most refer to the mast as the whale-bones, but the architect said it was not as specific as that initially. He was working on a nautical theme and had to mind the carcass of some sea creature. They arch upwards and inward to give the pier another dimension. And they get taller and come closer to touching at their tips, from the base of the pier to its end.
The hollow masts or whale bones were moulded in glass reinforced polyester, which makes them strong and light.
They are also able to withstand the harsh marine environment, which punishes even stainless steel and rusts steel reinforced concrete from the inside out. On that score, the pier has galvanised reinforcing to lengthen its life. A powdered metal pigment gives the whale bones their greeny-bronze hue. It mimics the verdigris you find on weathered copper.
The same basic mould made all the masts, with extensions bolted on for the longer ones. The ribs on the north and south sides of the pier are identical, but flipped around.
The stanchions were made from reinforced polymer concrete and the handrails from extruded glass reinforced plastic.
The pedestrian and decorative lighting, designed by Rob Anderson, use efficient LED technology – at the time new in such applications.
Pigment-coloured concrete screeds and pavers, cobblestones, fossil-imprint details and marine themed edging all add visual interest to the deck.
The work was done by the Civil Engineering & Construction Company Esor who won the SAICE: Durban Branch Award for Technical Excellence for this project.
In the following year, the pier received the Institute of Municipal Engineering in South Africa/Consulting Engineers of South Africa national award in the structures and buildings category.
Design detail taken from articles by uMhlanga Rocks Tourism