As the name suggests, Aliwal Dive Centre Lodge caters for the diving fraternity with world-class diving here at Aliwal Shoal. This lodge is one of a handful backpacker hostels between Durban and Port Shepstone offering backpacker accommodation mainly for surfers along the south coast of KwaZulu Natal.
Umkomaas is fifty kilometers from Durban and seventy-five kilometers from Port Shepstone and -- via the many dive centres here -- gives the easiest access to some great diving. Aliwal Dive Centre is on Moodie Street, just a short, three-minute walk from the beach and a thirty-minute boat ride out to most of the dive sites.
Rooms and Bathrooms
There are around a dozen rooms here; all are clean and well-kept. The six-bed dorm we occupied is en suite with a small but tidy bathroom. Soap and towels are provided here. The dorm has a balcony with a warning to keep the door closed when the room isn't occupied due to thieving monkeys! The bunks are comfy and there is locker space for your belongings.
There is very little in the way of common space. A terrace at the front of the dive centre looks out onto the car park and small swimming pool and features a long wooden dining table and some cushioned chairs and sofas. When we stayed, on a Saturday, the Dive Centre shut in mid-afternoon, locking guests out of the main office area, where the water boiler, fridge, and free tea and coffee are located! If you have a private room, all of them are en suite so you get your own tea- and coffee-making facilities; however, you're out of luck if you're in the dorm. A small book swap sits on the landing on the stairs up to the rooms, but that's it for common areas. The dive centre has a briefing and video room, but that's only in use for divers when the centre is open. The free Wi-Fi has a very erratic signal, but is accessible in all the rooms (or just about). A cooked breakfast is included in the bed price, which is a little higher than the other backpackers' on the south coast.
Aliwal Dive Centre has the cheapest beds in Umkomaas and is patronized mostly by divers doing courses here. It accepts guests of any hue, but you really stick out like a sore thumb if you're not a diver! There are no self-catering facilities here; only a water boiler and a toaster are available as long as the office and dive centre is open and after hours, you're on your own. Although there are a few choices just around the corner from the centre, they are not cheap. All in all, Aliwal Dive Centre and Lodge is a good, solid choice, but lacks the amenities one would normally expect from a South African backpackers' hostel.
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
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