Having driven the coast of South Africa from Alexander Bay to Sodwana Bay Ann Gadd has had the privilege of seeing some pretty mean surf. Here is her pick of South Africa’s top 5 surfing beaches.
Now ask any hardcore surfer where their favourite surf spot is and you’ll get a reply something like this:
“Well bru, you must have had three days hard North-West, which drops on the low tide as mega swell pushes in. Then it’s about 60 minutes on a dirt track until you get to farmer Joe’s. Then you may have to clear with him to use his farm road. After that, it’s right at the three sand dunes and head slightly left while crossing them. Then, dude, you’ll find some serious cranking action on an epic pointbreak.”
For the rest of us though, and for waves that work like clockwork (usually) here’s my list:
J-Bay – Supertubes EC
The town of Jeffrey’s Bay is situated just off the N2 coastal highway, an hour southwest from Port Elizabeth. SA’s top surfing destination and ranked number two in the world for top surf destinations by CNN. Here waves can reach 300m (or 20ft) of pure tubing pleasure. A number of other top surf spots are located close by, so there’s always something to surf. (Can get pretty crowded.)
Eland’s Bay – The Supertubes of the West Coast WC
Head up North (about three hours) from Cape Town and you’ll arrive at the sleepy town of Eland’s Bay. The prevailing summer south-easter converges on the westerly swell to provide some explosive left point break action. A hollow take-off and rides of 150m make it an exhilarating venue. The rocky shelf is generally dangerous in big surf conditions making it a pro only spot.
Victoria Bay – WC, near George
There are few places you can chill in your B&B, so close to the waves you can hear the yells of excited surfers as they load onto yet another wave. This place is like a wave machine. Except on extreme days, it’s suitable for all levels of surfers. Because it’s relatively small, it can get crowded in season, so best visit when things have quietened down.
Bay of Plenty – Durban, KZN
So called because there are plenty of spots and plenty of waves, plus unlike Eland’s Bay the water is blissfully warm. What’s great about this venue is that the waves get bigger from south (uShaka Beach) to the north, at Blue Lagoon, meaning you can pick your spot depending on your proficiency.
Dungeons – Cape Peninsula, near Hout Bay WC.
The conditions seldom work, but when they do, it offers humongous 20ft+ waves accessible only via boat. The swell breaks over a shallow reef where tow-in surfing is the order of the day. Big wave venue competitions happen here only for the bravest of the brave! (Not the place to test out your new bodyboard!)
You also might like: The A to Z guide for things to do on the Cape Peninsula
Words and Photography Ann Gadd