There aren’t many places in the world that have miles upon miles of coastline just begging to be surfed. South Africa is one such a country where you are spoiled for choice.
From east to west, the South African coast boasts some of the best waves waiting to be ridden on a surfboard. What’s even better is the fact that each spot has a different flavor to it, so you won’t get bored with the same thing over and over. If you’re planning a surf trip in South Africa, you had better do your homework and get the right gear before you go.
What do you need?
The African sun is not to be messed with. During summer, temperatures can rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so you’ll want to stock up on sunscreen. Depending on the beach you’ll be shredding, you would want to pick up a decent 4/3 wetsuit as well. Down by Muizenberg, the water can be quite nippy.
You won’t be surfing little ripples in the water. If the conditions are right, you could be staring at set after set of 15-20-foot swells. You can then only imagine the damage that those waves can do if you get wiped out. Do yourself a favor and get a proper first aid kit. Getting smashed on the reef is never a cozy experience.
Of course, you want to have proof of the barrel that you took, so don’t forget the GoPro. You will have more than enough opportunities to capture these epic moments on your trip.
Most importantly, don’t forget your board!
Where should you go?
Depending on your taste, you could either do an east-to-west trip or the other way around. Luckily, South Africa has airports at both of those starting points. Personally, I would start in the mother city of Cape Town and work my way down to Durban (or Durbs, as the locals would say). If you start in Cape Town, however, you had better get the wetsuit ready because it is cold.
Cape Town (Muizenberg)
Known for its scenic beauty, Cape Town is truly a magnificent city and boasts some powerful surfing conditions. Muizenberg sits snug in the middle of two opposite currents, the warm Mozambique current and the cold Benguela current. Even on average days, you’ll find some pretty decent waves to sink your teeth into.
While you’re at it, you could also use the wind and try kite-surfing on for size. If one thing is certain in Cape Town, it is the wind. You can count on some serious airtime during the afternoons as the faithful southeaster picks up. The winds of Cape Town are known to hoist you up to 40 feet into the air.
Home of the Billabong Pro or J-Bay Open, one of the events in the World Surf League, J-Bay is sure to steal your heart — so much so that you’ll seriously consider staying there for the remainder of your tour. J-Bay is known for the longest right-hander in the world and boasts some epic sets when the conditions are right.
Jeffreys Bay is a small little town about 45 miles south of Port Elizabeth, and believe it or not, if all the sections of the wave meet up, you can surf from one side of the town to the other. Otherwise, Super Tubes is the place to be. However, don’t think that you’ll be able to make it out there if you don’t know what you’re doing. For one, you’ll get pummeled. Secondly, the locals don’t like amateurs on their turf.
This is another secluded little spot that is unspoiled for the most part. The lifestyle of the locals is very basic, and that is the way they like it. There’s no need to complicate life when you have the ocean as your playground.
Getting to Coffee Bay is an adventure in itself, and you’ll probably have to rent a 4×4 or all-terrain vehicle to get to the bay. However, you will not be disappointed when you experience the waves that this humble little stretch of coastline has to offer.
No surfing trip to South Africa would be complete without making a turn in Durban. The best part about Durbs is that the water is amazing all year round. Few places in the world will provide you with the warm waters that Durban does. Don’t get caught without your sunscreen, however. The sun will make you suffer in summer.
With so many prime spots to surf at in South Africa, any surfer of any skill level will find that the sandy shores of the south offer more than enough opportunity. The biggest problem you will face in the end is deciding which spot is the best.