Pumula Beach Hotel, Umzumbe (KZN South Coast)

Taking the kids away for a holiday is a great thing to do, but there are a whole lot of extra things that you need to think about, just because the kids are with you.
You cannot just lock up and go - there are tons of extras to pack - toys, 78 changes of clothes (in case of bad weather etc.), nappies, medication... the list just doesn't seem to end.

Something also of huge importance then, is how kid-friendly your destination is.
It would seem though, that holiday resorts and accommodation are all becoming a whole lot more considerate of the entire family, kids included. Maybe I am only just noticing it now that I am a dad... :)

Pumula Beach Hotel is just such an example, of a "family" type destination.
It is the type of place to go when you want to just kick back for a few days, watching the sea, eating, drinking, sunbathing on the beach, taking the occasional dip, while the kids are well taken care of in their own right.

Date Last visited

November 2010

Location and Setting

Pumula Beach Hotel is situated on the KZN South Coast, a few km past Hibberdene and approx. 100km from Durban.
It has its own private beach with direct access from the hotel - the road and railway line run behind the hotel, so all that separates you from the beach is the hotel boundary fence encased in lush coastal vegetation.

For the kids...

Simply put, Pumula Beach Hotel scores very well on this front:

- If your kids love the sea and the sand (and which kids don't?), then Pumula's beach will deliver a ton of fun. The beach is a pleasure to walk on (some of the North Coast beaches are a bit more coarse and not so easy on the feet if you want to walk for a long distance), and the small rocky outcrops provide a wealth of shallow rock pools in which you can find crabs, small fishes and some really interesting looking seashells.
There is also a designated swimming beach, which is supervised by lifeguards at certain times during the day.

- Once the kids have had their daily fill of beach sand, you can head up to the hotel for a spot of adventure golf. The 9 hole course is rather challenging in places, especially if your adventure golfing skills, like mine, are not quite up to scratch... :)

- During (or after) your game of adventure golf, the kids can transform themselves into little monkeys, on several jungle gyms that are neatly placed in and around the mini golf course. Either that, or they can see how high they can jump on the 2 trampolines there.

- After all the golfing, monkeying about and trampolining, there can be nothing better than a dip in the hotel's awesome salt water swimming pool (heated in winter), complete with a splash pool for the little ones.

- If all of the above haven't exhausted all that boundless kiddie energy, then hop out of the pool and get dirty on the beach volleyball court. Afterwards, you can just hop straight back into the pool anyway :)

- If the weather dishes out a rainy day, then the kids can burn some energy in the games rooms. There is an awesome huge custom-built wooden jungle gym that stretches across and between the rooms. Send your child in there and you may not see them for several hours... :)

- There are also 2 table-tennis tables in the games rooms, as well as some old style arcade game machines that you used to find at your corner Cafe - remember the ones that took a 20c coin per game...? :)
Adjacent to that is a room dedicated to Sony Playstation games, kids movies and DVD's, so there really are a load of different activities for the kids.

That's pretty much a day full of activities, or at least the better part of a day. Don't forget that you have to eat sometime as well... more about that later :)

Kids get to enjoy their dinner an hour and a half before main dinner, served in the kids dining room.
They get their own menu, which is usually a slightly stripped down version of the adult menu to be served later that evening.
It was great to note that the kiddies menu was very well thought out, as it was definitely enjoyed by all the kids there - I know that fussy eaters can be a problem!


If it's the tiny tots who are doing the eating, then there are highchairs readily available.
On that note, Pumula have got a "Tiny tots kitchen" situated next to the kids dining room - so you can make use of their fridge and microwave facilities if you need to heat up food or keep something cold during your stay.

Useful tip 1:
Bring along some small tupperware dishes with lids - then after the kids are finished eating, store their leftovers in the fridge in case they are after a snack the next day (this came in very handy for us).

Useful tip 2:
If you want to enjoy peaceful dinners at Pumula, be sure to book your babysitter in advance (book at reception, before 16:00 on the day) - that way you can chill out and enjoy the wonderful cuisine and views from the dining room, while the little ones are looked after in the playroom or in your own room, if you prefer.

For the adults...

Where to start?
There is so much to say about this place that I would probably wear the letters off my keyboard if I were to type it all, so I will keep it as short as I can :)

It doesn't get much better than this... :)
When adults go on holiday, they like to think as little as possible. I suppose one could say that a holiday is kinda like a thinking break :)
At Pumula, all you really need to think about is when the next meal is... if you are like me, that is :)
All meals are included in their rates, and their meals are certainly memorable in every way.

Breakfast is the usual buffet fare of yogurts, fruits, muesli, confectionery, cheese, cold meats etc., followed by English-style eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms if you are someone with a huge appetite. 
Their omelettes are also awesome and super-filling... enough to keep you going until lunch at least :)
Echo Valley filter coffee (yum!) flows freely from early in the morning until late at night, along with a variety of teas and hot chocolate.

Lunch is usually a buffet of some sort, or maybe a braai on the patio (weather permitting), and the dinner menu is in a similar style to The Cavern resort in the Northern Drakensberg, offering several options for Starter, Entree, Main Course and Dessert.
Their food is truly excellent - both in quality and in portion size... it was actually too much to finish in some cases :)
Clearly Pumula have a superbly creative group of chefs and kitchen staff, as the menu will testify. I will not spoil it for you though - rather experience it for yourself :)
The kitchen staff are also very accommodating if you require something specific - for example, when our little toddler requested plain pasta (not standard on the menu), they happily boiled up some for us :)

What makes mealtimes at Pumula even more special though, is the unique ambiance that is achieved in their dining room.
It is a combination of incredible sea views, quaint seaside decor and the excellent selection of Cafe del Mar / Buddha Bar / Chill out background music, that simply completes the wonderful dining experience here.

Enough about the food then.

If you want to catch a tan (or a burn, if you are a Vaalie...), head down to the beach, or the salt water pool if you prefer.
As mentioned above, you can also try your hand at some adventure golf on their 9 hole course.
There is also a small library at the hotel if you want to settle down with a good book while watching out for whales or dolphins in the surf - we personally saw both when we were there.
A truly awesome spectacle!

If you feel like a bit of a drive along the coast, there are a host of activities and fun places to visit inland:

- 10 golf courses nearby
- Diving
- Whale and dolphin viewing
- Fishing
- Game viewing at Lake Eland
- Incredible views, gorge swings and hikes at Oribi Gorge
- Several petting zoos and animal sanctuaries along the coast - check out http://www.southernexplorer.co.za/do.html for a list of South Coast places to visit.

Enquire at the hotel reception for further details on any of these and other activities... and if you just want to kick back and do nothing, then do that! No excuses required here :)

Anything else?

I think that just about does it from our side - for any other information that you may need about Pumula (accommodation, rates, specials etc.), head on over to their website at:

Final words

Pumula has the sun, sea, sand, excellent food, lots to do, friendly and helpful staff, and all this happens with the kids strongly in mind.
A winner all round.

Getting in touch

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Plebs with Kids visits mainly JHB-based venues, coffee shops, restaurants, play areas and other such establishments.

We rate their kid-friendliness (among other things :) for your convenience, and for the next time you need a place to go, while knowing that your little ones are well catered for.

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