Sodwana history - Sodwana information

KZN North Happenings




Sodwana Bay

The name Sodwana is derived from two Zulu words - "siso dwana", which means "Us alone".


The legend goes that some zulu women were harvesting mussels off the rocks at what is now called Jesser Point and were approached by white people who wanted to know who they were and what they were doing. Confused about what had been asked, they answered "Siso dwana"


There are a wealth of activities which include diving , boating and angling and hiking.

Sodwana Bay National Park with its many exciting coral reefs and outstanding climate, is one of the premier sport diving destinations in the world.

Sodwana features popular dive sites with a huge range of marine flora and fauna, underwater seascapes, stunning overhangs, corals, drop-offs and mushroom rocks, as well as spectacular night dives.

Visitors to the Sodwana area can enjoy camping out under the African sky at the Sodwana Bay camp grounds For those who prefer luxury there are 3 leisure lodges within close proximity to the park.


Sodwana is situated on the coast within the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and is renowned for its sport fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling. The reserve lies adjacent to Africa’s southern-most coral reefs. The Maputoland and St Lucia Marine Reserves are linked to each other to form a continuous protected area stretching 150kms from the Mozambique border southwards to Cape Vidal and 3 nautical miles out to sea.


Turtle tours which allow views of Loggerhead and Leatherback Turtles that nest on the Sodwana beaches, in summer are available

Sodwana Bay caters to the needs of each visitor, from water sports enthusiasts to avid nature lovers.


Centuries ago the Nguni tribes migrated southward along the Mozambican coastal plains to the eastern shores of Lake St. Lucia. During their migration they made use of the marine resources along the coast by harvesting oysters and mussels from the sea. Evidence of this occurs in the form of shell middens which occur sporadically along the coastal dunes.


In 1822 the Royal Navy sent the ships Leven, Barracouta, and Cockburn to survey the coastline. The captain of the Barracouta was Lieutenant A.Vidal, after whom Cape Vidal was named, and Leven Point was named after the sloop HMS Leven. Various points along the coastine of Sodwana, namely Jesser, Liefeldt’s, Gobey & Hully were named after officers on the ships who died of Malaria. Because of Sodwana's inaccessibility, the area was relatively unexploited by Europeans for a number of years and prior to 1945, virtually unknown. In December 1950, the Natal Parks Board proclaimed Sodwana Bay as a Nature Reserve.

The only buildings at the time were a thatched hut and a toilet. The first visitor facilities at Sodwana Bay were established in the early 1960's by Natal Parks Board (now known as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife).


The Story is told of Joanna de Mendoca, a young and beautiful widow of a Portuaguese Nobleman, who was returning to Portugal with her two year old child, to join a convent. The ship, Sao Thome, got into trouble and the Captain decided to abandon ship. People were lowered into the one lifeboat that was available and Joanna was lowered while her maid held the baby. The maid refused to lower the baby, unless she, too, could join those on the lifeboatwhich was full. The maid spitefully threw the baby into the sea. The lifeboat drifted northwards. but eventually drifted back to the Sao Thome, which was amazingly still afloat. It was later discovered that there had been enough rope and casks on board to make life rafts,and many more people could have been saved if people had panicked less.. The lifeboat finally beached just south of Sodwana Bay. There are many more stories like this one, but no wrecks have been found.


Sodwana Bay is in a malaria area and special precautions are necessary.

Sodwana Bay is reputed to have the largest camping ground and caravaning facility in the Southern Hemisphere. No other part of Southern Africa has the range of eco-systems that is to be found in Maputaland. In addition to a prime hotel and lodge, self-catering holiday chalets, tent sites and caravan parks are spread through many hectares of coastal forest making Sodwana a leading domestic holiday destination


P O Box 8073
Nelspruit 1206


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