“The Monaco, Amalfi, and Venice of South Africa”
By Jessica Bayley
Cold limoncello cocktails, the warmth of the Mediterranean sun turning your hair golden, cool cobalt waters… Sounds like a Hollywood film set in Positano, doesn’t it?
South African budgets are not the most favorable when it comes to international travel, especially in Europe at the height of summer. However, that doesn’t mean that your summer holiday has to be any less European.
This is where to vacation in South Africa during the summer months that will make you feel as though you’ve stepped into Monaco’s luxury, driven the Amalfi Coast, and cruised through the canals of Venice.
Monaco – Umhlanga Rocks, KZN
Ah, the land of obscene wealth, 50-meter yachts, designer stores, and impeccable real estate dotting the coastline. For some of us, we’re not Rockefeller, we’re the “other fella”.
While Monaco may be out of the budget for those who aren’t multi-millionaires, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a week away, inspired by the elegance of The Principality (for a fraction of the price).
For a Monaco-inspired getaway, you’ll head to Umhlanga Rocks in the KwaZulu Natal Province of South Africa.
Umhlanga is dripping with flashy lifestyles, boasts a coastline littered with high-risers and 5 star hotels, and a city center with 360 views of the Indian Ocean. Umhlanga mimics Monaco’s cliffside, meaning that apartments, hotels, malls and restaurants have all been built into the Umhlanga Ridge, creating a cascade of lavish real estate.
Umhlanga encompasses the best of Monaco with beach-side restaurants and bars. It features high-end retail shopping with an assortment of designer brands such as Versace, Chanel, Burberry and more. You’ll find it all enclosed in Umhlanga’s brand new Ocean’s Mall.
The Umhlanga coastline serves as a backdrop that is so exquisite, it garnered the attention of the Prince and Princess of Monaco, who stayed at The Oyster Box Umhlanga during their time in South Africa. Not to mention the supercars that frequent the streets with styles just as outrageous as their owners.
The Legacy Yard gives its viewers a panoramic view of both the city and the ocean while offering cuisine from India, Japan, Italy and Portugal. Monaco is known for its multiculturalism and five star fusion cuisine and the offerings at Legacy Yard and the Umhlanga Village certainly do Monaco’s food scene justice.
Amalfi Coast – Cape Town (Chapman’s Peak)
Vast stretches of azure water below, an open road that hugs a cliffside embellished with colorful homes and a Protea-streaked mountain above…
The only difference between the Cape Town coastline along Chapman’s Peak drive and the Amalfi Coast is, you guessed it, the South African native protea. Other than that, the two coastlines are almost identical.
Cape Town is a province located along the Western Coast of South Africa. The famous Chapman’s Peak drive was voted one of the best roads to drive in the world.
You could hire out a vintage Porsche, add an Italian headscarf to your outfit and blast “I found my love in Portofino” while you drive the peak for a true, Amalfi experience.
Live in the essence of pure, Italian, summer by vacationing to Camps Bay, where you’ll be able to see the city of Cape Town from the water and view the Amalfi-inspired villas in their greatest form.
Spend your days drowning in the warmth of the South African sun, cliff jumping off Cape Town’s varied coastline and sipping on notable South African Sauvignon Blanc at the famous Café Caprice or Grand Africa Café & Beach Club.
Venice – Knysna and Saint Francis Bay
If you dream of silent waterways, ancient gondolas, fresh seafood and homes right on the edge of Venetian canals, then your South African getaway destination is Knysna.
It is located in the Western Cape and features a cacophony of canals that wind their way through the quaint town and into the Atlantic ocean.
Additionally, for a similar experience, you could head to Saint Francis Bay which is filled to the brim with sailing boats, yachts, boat houses and homes that bring “cottage core” to life, right on the water’s edge.
You’ll find Saint Francis in the Eastern Cape of Southern Africa.
Like St Mark’s Square
It is another extraordinary piece of South Africa’s coastline and as you enter the bay, you truly feel as though you’re arriving at the port near St Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy.
Given that both areas are so well located, right near the ocean, the seafood scene rivals that of traditional Venetian cuisine. Knysna’s specialty is oysters, so make sure you try one or two when you go.
You don’t always have to travel far and spend exorbitant amounts of money to have similar, authentic, travel experiences.The glamor of Monaco, the ineffable Amalfi coast or the canals of Venice… Where will you choose to go next?
Jessica Bayley is an international journalist and travel writer based in South Africa. She covers everything from luxury to budget travel across the world. Her office ranges from cabins in Switzerland to cafés in Vienna to beaches in Mozambique.