It’s been an institution in the Umhlanga village for as many years as most of the locals can remember, although the Box Bar has undergone several transformations in that time.
Originally Charlies, the native surfers sought out this spot with the killer ocean view for obvious reasons back in the early 90s, many of of whom are still regulars today (and still call it Charlies!).
Back then it was nothing much to look at, but had a steady buzz of locals and was known for the regular live music, with people like Farryl Purkiss & Guy Buttery playing their first gigs on the tiny stage.
Around 2008 a quirky couple from the UK arrived to take over the reigns, transforming the dingy space into something a little more upmarket. It was a new dawn for the seaside bar and restaurant, complete with warm, familiar welcomes, deadly delicious nachos, funky playlists on repeat, a whole new generation of surfers, and a short rebirth of fresh live music.
In 2010, the Brits relocated back to London, selling the bar to another English family. What they had begun in terms of transforming the space was taken to a whole new level. A massive facelift ensued and along with the new furniture and paint came a slightly different crowd.
Today, the stunning seaviews remain, as do the tasty nachos and warm welcomes. Sadly, the live music is still only intermittent and some of the familiar faces have moved on. While the Box Bar of old and the Charlies of yesteryear may be a memory, the venue has never been busier. In or out of season, a steady stream of customers gathers on the balcony to enjoy sundowners overlooking the waves, or winder-down after a long nightshift.