A Portuguese explorer named Manuel Prestrello arrived in the area on the feast of St Lucy. He then renamed the area Santa Lucia in honour of the Saint. Prestello had written in his diary that at that time the lagoon mouth was shallow.
A few years later, a ship called San Bento sank off the coast and there were only four survivors. By the time they reached Lake Sibaya they were starving. They found a local villager whom they killed and ate. This was the first documented case of cannibalism in the area.
A small British ship named the Bona Ventura with ten people on board, ran aground on a sandbank at the St Lucia estuary mouth. The still floating ship was carried over the sandbank and into the St Lucia estuary by the incoming current. While the survivors stood and watched, the ship floated a couple of miles into the estuary where it sank. The wreck is still in the estuary, but is covered with sand and silt.
During this period many Rhino fell prey and were shot by the white settlers who were in search of ivory, land and adventure.
Cape Vidal was named after the captain, Lieutenant A Vidal of the ship HMS Leven.
After the Zulu war, the HMS Goshawk was sent to St Lucia to annex the area.
The St Lucia Township was proclaimed.
On the 16th of April, under the provisions of Section 14 of Zululand Proclamation no. 11, His Excellency the Governor declares the area a game reserve, which makes it the oldest game reserve in Africa.
A ship named the Dorothea was wrecked on a reef off Cape Vidal on 31 January. Stories about the ship were that it was loaded with illegal gold that was purchased in Witwatersrand and was being smuggled out of the country via Maputo. Salvage operations have been unsuccessful.
LO Feyling, a Norwegian Reverend came to the area to set up a Mission Station. The Mission Station was established on Mt Tabor and was in use till the 1950s. Other Mission Stations in the area were at Cape Vidal and Ozabeni.
The wreck of the SS Timavo, an Italian cargo ship which beached during June, is visible at low tide just north of Leven Point.
An observation building was also built on Mt Tabor for the Royal Navy 262 Squadron which was based on the Eastern Shores. Anti-submarine patrols were carried out along the coastline with Catalina flying boats. Today, a Catalina wreck is still visible further up the estuary.
Until this year the Sodwana Bay National Park was virtually unknown but in 1973 after the Civil war broke out, it was better utilized.
The bridge to St Lucia village was built. Before that a pont was used to get from the mainland to St Lucia.
The St Lucia-Umfolozi river mouth silted up due to sediments in the water and in 1953 the Umfolozi mouth was excavated to solve the problem.
The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park was nominated by the World Heritage Convention, a body established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization), for inclusion on the World Heritage list.
Cyclone Domoina caused floods and great damage to St Lucia. The bridge connecting the town to the mainland was washed away, but rebuilt just as rapidly.
On the 1st of December the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park was declared a World Heritage Site, making this the first Natural World Heritage Site in South Africa.
3 Living Coelacanths were discovered on 27 November in a submarine canyon off the coast of Sodwana Bay. Believed to be extinct these prehistoric fish were discovered at a depth of 104m by a group of divers who called themselves SA Coelacanth Expedition 2000. One of the expedition divers, Dennis Harding lost his life during the discovery dive.
On the 23rd of April another 2 Coelacanths were discovered in Sodwana Bay.
As time goes by The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park
will continue to make history.