Thursday, 2 February 2017

SOUTH AFRICA: Umhlanga Nude Beach

There is a specific location along the shoreline of Umhlanga Rocks, hidden away from the general public and quite a mission to gain access to. The waters along this shoreline are crystal clear and turquoise blue on a perfect summer’s day and the sand is a clean, unaltered white, with fine gemstones that sparkle in the sunlight.

This is Umhlanga’s unofficial nude beach and has always been one of the North Coast’s best kept secrets for the past couple of decades. Only a handful of people know of the location and how to get there, as well as, the reason why it is as hidden away from the public eye as it is.

The location has long been used by a number of naturist associations and other groups of nudist clubs who hike down to the shores and bear it all, sunbathing in the perfect natural sunlight. The Phoenix Sun managed to locate a Phoenix resident who knew the exact co-ordinates of the beach and were able to take journalists to the said place.

Access to the beach is rather cumbersome, and is specifically made to be this way so that the beach would only be visited by those who were comfortable with nudity. The beginning of the entrance was found at the end of Lagoon Drive. Visitors are requested to park their car at the unnoticeable parking space belonging to the nature reserve, and were thereafter required to follow a trail. Within this parking space, journalists witnessed a bus, with the words ‘the naked bus trip’ painted on the window; drop off a few passengers who were ready to make their way down to the beach along the trail.

The trail led down onto a wooden bridge over a swamp believed to be infested with frogs, crabs and the occasional harmless snake. This wooden bridge meanders for a good hundred meters before it ended at the start of a sand trail, underneath a thick canopy of intertwined branches from the indigenous trees.
The trail continues for a few hundred metres more until it ends on the perfectly white beach sand, a stone-throw away for the waves. But even this is not the nudist beach spot. The walk across the beach continues for a good 3 kms more until the visitor reaches the lagoon. Here, the occasional naked sunbather is found. Journalists were advised to not bring their cameras to not offend the beach users but witnessed a number of residents, generally older, asleep on their stomachs on towels in the warm sunshine, with their rear ends up in the air. The people here are unaffected by the others and showed no signs of inhibitions. The Phoenix Sun managed to speak to one of the nudists, who said that he opted for the indulgence to be one with nature. He said that he saw the practice of nudity as asexual.

Journalists left the beach that day, and returned a second day to acquire more pictures, but found the area disserted. Journalists were then approached by a police vehicle who enquired as to why they were there. When journalists explained that they were on there to research the nudist beach, police informed them that sunbathing without clothes was illegal and was not allowed in the northern parts of Durban beaches.

Local councillor for the area, Heinz De Boer, said that officials were aware of the on-goings down at the nudist beach but it is generally very low key.

“It’s mostly men who utilise the beach as a nudist beach, but even on a busy day you will not find more that 10 to 15 people at a time. There were complaints down there a while ago of people leaving their clothes on the shore and then venturing out and petty thieves would loot their belongings, but even that has died down with more patrols in the area. We have also received complaints of one or two exhibitionists, who instead of lying on their towels, securely hidden behind the sand dunes, and sunbathing; they prefer to be walking around naked. The spot is used mostly by locals and is not exactly a tourist attraction. It is unofficial, and we have no intentions of making it an official nude beach,” he said.
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