With some 2,500 kilometres of coastline, from the desert border with Namibia on the Atlantic (western) coast southwards around the tip of Africa and then northeast to the border with Mozambique on the Indian Ocean, there are plenty of waves on offer in South Africa.
With this neverending coastline and great waves surrounding the country, it’s no wonder it has become a surfing hotspot.
Here are the top 10 surfing spots in South Africa to drop in on and check out.
Jeffrey’s Bay (J-Bay)
Probably the most famous break in South Africa, Jeffreys Bay (or Jeffreysbaai in Afrikaans), or simply J-Bay, is a town located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Voted as the second-best wave in the world, the break just outside the small town of Jeffrey’s Bay plays host to many great surfing competitions, including a stop on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT). There are a number of quality waves in this small area of coastline but one thing is for sure – it gets pretty epic around here. Waves include Supertubes, Boneyards, Impossibles, Albatross. Waves here can break in excess of 20 feet.
Dungeons (Hout Bay)
Dungeons is a legendary surfing spot that is only recommended for brave and experienced surfers Epic big wave spot, not for the faint hearted. Can hold huge waves and only starts working on the big swells. The swells here can reach 6 meters (20 ft), and the Dungeons can only be reached by boat. Surfers are towed in and left on the water that is around 2.5 meters (8 ft) deep with no one knowing what is going on underneath. The destination is even one of the legs in the Red Bull Wave Competition and many top surfers love visiting the coastal town.
Located near the beautiful town of Port Edward, the Wild Coast is definitely an area to visit if you enjoy adventure surfing. The whole coast is very rural and expect almost every spot to be empty. Many epic waves along this coast that are hidden away in some bay ready for you to surf. You need patience and true stoke to venture across this coast and the experience will surely be wild. Coffee Bay is probably the most “developed” areas for surfing as there is a surf shop and board rental area.
Durban is home to the most promising surfers and consistent waves in the country. Regular swells and favourable wind directions are in abundance as well as a variety of reef, point and beach breaks. Competition is definitely fierce, and localism may be an issue for the visitors or inexperienced surfers. Although it sometimes lacks the power, it makes up for it in th quality of its waves. Water temperatures are warm all year round and weather is generally hot and humid. Popular breaks include New Pier(ultra-crowded and competitive), Cave Rock, North Beach, Dairy Beach, Baggies. More gentle swells can be found in Umhlanga, while up north you will find bigger ones.
Between Melkbosstrand and Blue Berg Strand, you will find Big Bay. While not a massive surfing destination, it offers a decent training area and an ideal place for beginners to start. The town is riddled with surfers and locals looking to sell you great surfing memorabilia.
Llandudno is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Western Cape, but also one of the most dangerous and definitely not for the faint of heart. The rocky boulders and towering mountains are virtually everywhere, and this makes for beautiful scenery. Nevertheless, you should be careful as the waves tend to get quite hollow from time to time and the rocky boulders could lead to serious injury. There are three main peaks at this break. The first peak, on the right-hand side, near the rocks (looking out to sea) is known as the The Gat (The Hole). It can get epic when the swell direction and banks are just right, giving riders an intense, wedging take off that mutates into a thick, round barrel. Central peak, which can also get good, and a left on the far side that sometimes breaks, giving relatively short rides.
Muizenberg is generally known as the birthplace of surfing in South Africa. While better places have been discovered, the Surfer’s Corner beach still offers a great place for you to relax and tackle the waves. Go pretty much right out to the back (as long as you’re not scared of the sharkies) A great place for beginners and longboarders. It can get super crowded over public holidays and weekends.
Located in Noordhoek near Cape Town, Dunes is a 40-minute drive from the international airport. While the waves might not be as big as you will find in places like Hout Bay, they still reach around 2.5 meters (8 ft). The city is a surfing hotspot and the best time to visit is during winter months. A classic wave. It is heavy and powerful. Similar to Hossegor, the sand banks favour rights and gets super hollow. It doesn’t get that crowded due to the hardcore walk in.
Long Beach is located in the small town of Kommetjie in the Western Cape, around 40-45 minutes drive from Cape Town. It features one of the finest and most consistent shore breaks in the country and has become a top surfing destination. Long Beach can be surfed throughout the year, but winter is generally the best time to visit the Western Cape Province. This is one of the few breaks in Cape Town that holds up in a South West wind. There is a permanent sandbar in the middle of the break with peaks breaking left and right. The left is very consistent and breaks into a channel. The right sometimes closes out or fades, but can still give great long rides on the right day, which end over a rocky area. The shore break can get a little serious on big days – you may want to kick out before you get there. Unless the swell is big, don’t bother at high tide – it get’s too deep and the waves don’t break on the sandbar.
Last but certainly not least, we have Elands Bay, which is a 3-hour drive up the shoreline from the city of Cape Town. The area is also known for the rocky boulders and towering mountains, which makes it a little more suitable for intermediate surfers. With rides of up to 150 meters (500 ft) long and a vibrant atmosphere, the town and its beach is a wonderful place for you to cut your teeth and learn the ins and outs of surfing. Known as the Jay Bay of the West Coast, in the right conditions, this waves gets classic. A rocky, kelp covered shelf, or small point, which turns a corner and becomes sand at a small river mouth. The swell refracts around the outer area of Elands Bay and peaks at the point, producing a hollow take-off and cylindrical wall that runs for about 150 metres. Needs a solid SW swell of 8′ before it wraps around the point. If Cape Town is a solid 6-8′, and the northern suburbs are 3-4′, chances are Elands will be 3-5′. Handles any S wind. Dominant wind is SE.
Do you know of a surf break in South Africa that we missed that you think ranks? Let us know.
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