Even those who live beside the sea in Durban often enjoy a short break at a coastal resort. Myrtle Ryan escaped to Ocean Eden on the South Coast
FALLING ASLEEP TO THE SOUND of breakers rushing to embrace the shore like ardent lovers is on the top rung of my somnolence ladder. When it’s possible to hear the wind chatting to the trees, be it in gentle whispers or in strident, branch-and leaf-shaking fury, my cup runneth over.
And while it’s possible to enjoy nature’s symphony concert from a tent in a campsite, nobody is going to furiously fend off an opportunity to do so in the lap of luxury.
Often holiday resorts are associated with rather run-down cottages, where the stove might be a bit antiquated, the beds a bit lumpy, and the airconditioning cranky. So, sweeping into the driveway at Ocean Eden came as a surprise bonus. For two days it was a life of sheer, hedonistic pleasure.
The three enormous self-catering villas – Cowrie, Pearl and Coral – are located just behind the coastal dune forest; and access to the beach is via two different paths – which add to the romance.
Owners Bryce and Tamlyn Hatton told me bridal couples sometimes check into the villas, just so they can get married on the beach and then wind their way towards conjugal bliss along a romantic bower where the subtropical growth meets overhead.
Naturally, I had to rush off to investigate such a delightful start to a marriage – only to find the local municipality had cut back the undergrowth, opening up the pathway. “Never mind,” said Bryce. “It will grow back quickly after the rain.”
However, one of the other paths is just a tiny tunnel over a boardwalk, woven into low-hanging branches, so you have to stoop low. For children, and adults who have never grown up (guilty), this is a magical kingdom.
Where to sleep? The choices of rooms in the different villas turned this into a real poser. The Goldilocks Syndrome – trying them all – was tempting. Fortunately, a change in bookings by other visitors meant we were able to spend a night in Cowrie and another in Pearl.
Each had their own charm, but what caught my fancy at Coral was a deck in the garden overlooking an open, grassy section of the Pennington Conservancy. Bryce told me guests who sit there often spot buck and dassies.
Cowrie is the newest villa, having only just been completed. Some of its rooms are reached via a steep stairway, while the teenagers will probably head for the basement room with its own TV set, where they can do their own thing without admonition from the adults.
At night, sitting on Cowrie’s covered veranda, watching the moon rise over the sea was a special way to end the day. Lolling in the Jacuzzi on the lower deck, sipping a glass of wine, was another option. In summer, a dip in the swimming pool is probably welcome at any hour.
The villas cater for at least 12 guests, so it’s a great opportunity for friends to get together. Comfortable settees and chairs in an array of lounges, complete with DStv; large dining room table and chairs; interesting pubs in Coral and Pearl, kitchens equipped with all mod cons including washing machine and tumble drier; the services of your own personal maid so Mom can relax a bit – what more can one ask for?
The wind howled on the one day, so sitting on the veranda of Pearl and watching the waves lash the coast was spectacular. Bryce told me visitors often see whales from this elevated position, but every self-respecting whale was well submerged in this weather.
Even so, due to the configuration of the villas, and the dune bush, we were sheltered from the blast.
Golfers can choose from around 10 courses in the area, scuba divers have a choice of reefs to visit such as the famous Aliwal Shoal; the Oribi Gorge is not that far away, nor is the Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve. Or how about a visit to a coffee plantation or some of the local arts and crafts outlets?
While the weather was fine, I walked for kilometres along the steeply-shelving shoreline, challenging the waves to catch me. Needless to say, they won, drenching me again and again.
Eventually I tired of this game, in which I was always the loser, and continued my walk beyond their reach.
At one spot a man sat comfortably ensconced in a deckchair, flying a kite. It seemed befitting that in such a laid-back holiday atmosphere, he should sit rather than stand and fly his kite. Finally, comparing the sun-bronzed legs of the many fishermen with my own pallid pins, I vowed to spend more weekends like this.
Ocean Eden can be reached on 082 815 1000. Website www.oceaneden.co.za; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org