Five kilometres offshore from Umkomaas lies the internationally-renowned Aliwal Shoal – a fossilised sand dune of sponges, soft and hard coral – first spotted in 1849 but not adequately highlighted until after it sank the steamer Nebo in 1884. Umkomaas is not unexpectedly a bountiful line-fishing locale, too, and away from the briny its challenging, heavily wooded and bunkered 5479m golf course was designed specifically to test those who boast a low handicap.
Umkomaas is named after the Mkomazi River, which means Place of the Whales in Zulu. Umkomaas was established in 1861 when an attempt was made to develop a harbour in the river mouth. Due to the sand bar and hazardous currents the attempt was aborted. Today, thanks to a shipping hazard and evidence of the havoc it s wreaked, the town’s colonial-style architecture is ‘base camp’ for scuba divers from around the world. The town was established in 1902.