South Africa Table Mountain

About St Lucia, Thonga Beach Lodge in the
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
one of the Unesco heritage sites in South Africa

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is one of the UNESCO heritage sites in South Africa. Situated in the north of KwaZulu-Natal province, it is the third largest of South Africa's many beautiful nature reserves


St. Lucia is a little village lying on the banks of the picturesque St. Lucia estuary close to the southern border of the Park.

Sunset over the St Lucia estuary, one of the heritage sites in South Africa
copyright © South African tourism
Sunset over the St Lucia estuary - Heritage Sites in South Africa, Nature Reserves of South Africa

Thonga Beach is in fact the name of a Lodge. Thonga Beach Lodge, lies in the heart of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa’s third largest nature reserve, 25km north of Sodwana Bay at Mabibi Bay on one of the most glorious beaches in South Africa and close to Lake Sibaya, the largest sweet water lake in South Africa.

View across Lake St Lucia from Dugandlovu Rustic Camp, False Bay Park - Heritage Sites in South Africa, Nature Reserves of South Africa
View across Lake St Lucia from Dugandlovu Rustic Camp, False Bay Park
Heritage Sites in South Africa, Nature Reserves of South Africa
copyright © South African tourism

Thonga Beach is a five star luxurious Lodge with its own top class restaurant which basically only caters for the Lodge’s residents. Situated in the middle of uninhabited wilderness there obviously are no restaurants anywhere near, and then we talk about hundreds of kilometres.

The restaurant deck at the Thonga Beach Lodge - Heritage Sites in South Africa, Nature Reserves of South Africa
The restaurant deck at the Thonga Beach Lodge
Heritage Sites in South Africa, Nature Reserves of South Africa
Photograph by Tim Henshall

As I said, St. Lucia is a small but very characteristic and exotic little village on the southern tip of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, with a permanent population of about 5000. If you include visitors, you can multiply that figure a number of times. Many tourists use St. Lucia as their Hub from which to explore the region because of its proximity to many attractions in the area.

There are plenty of Hippos in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park - Heritage Sites in South Africa, Nature Reserves of South Africa
There are plenty of Hippos in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Nature Reserves of South Africa

St. Lucia does have a number of restaurants, some of which offer excellent seafood dishes. You won’t find any Haute Cuisine however, although some of them do serve very acceptable quality food, somewhere at the level of a good steakhouse for example.

Coffee and Carrot Cake with cream at the Quarterdeck restaurant in St Lucia - Heritage Sites in South Africa, Nature Reserves of South Africa
Coffee and Carrot Cake with cream at the Quarterdeck restaurant in St Lucia
Heritage Sites in South Africa, Nature Reserves of South Africa
Photograph by Hendrik Groenewald

The following are the top four out of about 10 eating places in St Lucia:

THE QUARTERDECK

Open 11.00 till late. Great wooden deck overlooking the road, with a large (more beery) interior. Good selection of fresh grilled sea-food, as well as burgers and salads. Popular cocktail bar downstairs.

ALFREDOS

8.30 till late. Good Italian food at this affordable and cheerful set-up, run by an Italian chef, with a good range of pasta, seafood and veal dishes, and tables inside and out. Fun, easy-going atmosphere.

St Pizza restaurant in St Lucia - Heritage Sites in South Africa, Nature Reserves of South Africa
St Pizza restaurant in St Lucia
Heritage Sites in South Africa, Nature Reserves of South Africa

ST PIZZA

St Pizza is exactly as it said in the sign, food and drinks, a good place for a quick snack and some drinks in between whatever activities. They have a nice large terrace to sit outside and relax.

THE OCEAN SIZZLER

Open 12.00 till late. Hugely popular local restaurant serving steaks, seafood and a couple of Greek specials to tables spilling out onto the pavement. There’s also a good wine and cocktail list.






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Family enjoying a beach holiday in South Africa

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