WORDS: ANNE SCHAUFFER IMAGES: STEPHEN PILBROUGH, SHANE VAN ECK, SHUTTERSTOCK & GOOGLE MAPS
Heading north past the Durban North and Glenashley slip roads off the coastal M4, another two minutes, and you’re at La Lucia. It’s a somewhat unprepossessing entrance into what is one of Durban’s most prized and affluent suburbs. There are still a few small affordable property pockets around the La Lucia Mall – for around R2m – but with most of the suburb’s land on a perfect slope from the sea upwards, the promise of spectacular sea views on Durban’s north coast hot spot means most prices are high.
La Lucia is in a perfect position to access north and south. Largely residential – La Lucia Ridge is alongside it, but not interwoven – the commercial and professional offices don’t impact, but are within a couple of minutes’ drive. So too, are Umhlanga Ridge and the corporate head offices, hospitals, hotels, and Gateway Theatre of Shopping.
Fifteen years ago, La Lucia comprised largely freestanding homes radiating out from the then small, family-friendly La Lucia Mall. Today, the large green protected belt is surrounded by mostly glamorous townhouses, simplexes and luxury gated estates. Some on the slope face north, and enjoy the warm morning sun and views to Umhlanga and beyond. Others face south, and glow in the night lights of Durban city. Many of these are sensational apartments or townhouses, with vast decks or verandas, small gardens, and an enviable, secure lockup-and-go lifestyle for the well-heeled.
Freestanding homes in La Lucia are a mix of oversized, glittering mansions – no other word for them – and solid family homes with good-sized grounds. There are still some “needs TLC” properties that young families seek out and renovate over time. As a highly popular suburb, investing time and energy pays dividends here.
La Lucia is demarcated by Umhlanga Rocks Drive in the West, and the M4 in the east, but nip across the M4, and the stretch of prized properties along the beachfront’s Lady Ellen Crescent and a section of Forest Drive is considered part of La Lucia. With direct beach access, these properties are grand, and fetch top prices.
There’s no land remaining in La Lucia, so extensions, alterations and renovations are the order of the day… that is, unless you have the wherewithal to demolish and rebuild, or better still, demolish two adjacent properties, and go big.
Sandwiched between Durban North/ Glenashley and Umhlanga, La Lucia has a wide range of schools from which to choose. From government to private, Christian to Catholic, primary to high, the selection is superb, and it’s certainly a good reason to make this suburb home.
For the small family members, aside from La Lucia Primary and Preparatory Schools, neighbouring suburbs have Chelsea and Virginia Prep, and Northlands Primary. For high schools, there are Northwood High for boys, and Northlands and Danville for Girls. Private schools on the suburb’s doorstep or a short drive away, include Crawford College, Lady of Fatima Dominican Convent School (girls), Victory Christian Academy, and Reddam House Umhlanga.
La Lucia Mall has always been a favourite shopping centre, and although it’s surrounded by massive retail centres such as the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, Cornubia, and a host of others offering everything else you might need – like movies – it’s at the heart of the suburb and caters to almost all needs.
The Mall can’t grow any further – no space – which for many, is part of its charm. With serious competition from other malls, it’s kept on its toes in terms of quality and offering.
La Lucia is within sight and sound of the sea, so it’s a simple matter for swimmers, surfers, and ﬁshermen to head east, whether it’s to Umhlanga, Glenashley, or even southeast to the endless waves of Durban. Literally ten minutes’ drive.
As a family suburb, there’s a great deal of emphasis on healthy outdoor pursuits like cycling, running, tennis – La Lucia tennis courts are alongside the Mall – and beach activities.
For birders and hikers, the Beachwood Mangroves are ﬁve minutes away, and there are little green belts like Virginia Bush Nature Reserve with its trails.
“I’ve lived in La Lucia for over ten years, and the change in the landscape has been remarkable. But, for our family’s lifestyle, it’s been all for the better, because schools and work are no more than five minutes from home. It doesn’t get much better than that!” CLAIRE DE WET, RESIDENT
- Al Firenze: Italian restaurant that’s stood the test of time
- The Wok Box: Fast, authentic Thai food
- Mamma Luciana’s: The legendary Italian family which serves up consistently authentic food
- Rocomamas: Renowned for their SmashBurgers, Mofo wings and ribs
- The Chef’s Table, Umhlanga: sophisticated, yet unpretentious fine dining
- Old Town Italy, Umhlanga: A lofty, ultra-busy warehouse feel, with restaurant and deli
- Pintxada, Umhlanga: For those who enjoy their tapas every which way
- Netcare Umhlanga Hospital
- Busamed Gateway Private Hospital
- Ethekwini Hospital & Heart Centre
- La Lucia Mall
- Gateway Theatre of Shopping
- Cornubia Mall
- Kensington Square
- The Pearls of Umhlanga