Cape Town - If you grew up surfing in Cape Town, chances are pretty good that you caught your first wave on a rented board in a borrowed wetsuit at Muizenberg.
The quaint village is considered to be the birthplace of surfing, not only in the Mother City, but the whole of South Africa and continues to draw hopeful crowds on a daily basis, whether there are waves or not.
Apart from the usual surf spot risk, you know, that there might not be waves, Muizenberg has also gotten a bit of a bad rap lately for being a playground for sharks.
Despite this, it has made National Geographic's list of top 20 surfing towns around the world, joining famous locations such as Bondy Beach in Australia, Biarritz in France and Santa Cruz in California.
Here's the low down on what to expect while surfing at Muizenberg:
Type of wave: Beach break, left and right
Wave size: Starts working at 1 - 2 foot
Wave length: 50 - 150m normally, 150 - 300m on a good day
Best wind direction: North West
Accommodation: There are a number of backpackers in Muizenberg, geared specifically toward the surfing market. Check out Stoked Backpackers, Bailey's Surf Shack and African Soul Surfer.
Check out these other awesome surf spots to check out along South Africa's coastline
With its famously hollow left-hand point break and miles of golden beach, Elands Bay is an almost pristine paradise for surfers. It is located a mere 200km from Cape Town up the West Coast and is considered to be the perfect quick weekend breakaway spot. If you want it all to yourself though, it is best to take a few days off work and go during the week, because most weekends see a moderate amount of traffic hitting the water.
Type of wave: Left point break. Note you have to make your way over some pretty sharp rocks to reach the spot, so pack some booties!
Wave size: Starts working at 5/6ft but can reach up to 10 ft on a big day.
Wave length: 50 - 150m
Best wind direction: South East
Accommodation: There is a lovely campsite right next to the beach that ensures quick and easy access to the surf, plus the added bonus of beautiful views from dawn till dusk. Info: 0229721373
Eland's Bay hotel is also located right next to the beach, offering a variety of different types of accommodation. If you're camping and don't feel like yet another braai, try the hotel's restaurant. Info: 022 972 1640. firstname.lastname@example.org
Other spots to check out on the West Coast: Yzerfontein (80km north of Cape Town up the West Coast), Caravan Park in Lamberts Bay and Silwerstroom
With its spectacular natural setting of imposing cliffs, impossibly rounded boulders and shaggy greenery, Llandudno is a popular alternative to the more commercial Cape Town beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton. If you're a beginner it might be advisable to gain a bit more experience before attempting to tame the often wild waters, unless it's a thrill you're after. Over sunny weekends the beach tends to get rather busy, so make sure you get there early to secure yourself a parking spot close by, otherwise a long uphill walk awaits you at the end of a busy day of surfing. The water also tends to get slightly crowded at these times, so if you feel like a quiet surf rather go on weekdays after work or school. Just note that this spot is infamous for its localism, so keep to yourself and be kind.
Type of wave: Beach break, right and left
Wave size: Starts working at 3-5ft and can get as big as 6ft
Wave length: Not very long, mostly up to 50m, but could reach 150m on a good day.
Best wind direction: South East/ East
Accommodation: No campsites, no backpackers, but a whole host of B&Bs. Llandudno is located quite close to Hout Bay and Cape Town, though, broadening your options.
Other spots in and around Cape Town: Noordhoek (The Hoek & Dunes), Kommetjie (Outer Kom and Crons AKA Krans), Muizenberg for beginners and social surfers and Dungeons in Hout Bay for extreme big wave riders.
The quaint seaside resort of Victoria Bay, affectionately named Vic Bay, is located on the Garden Route just outside of George (driving towards the Eastern Cape). It first gained fame as a good, secluded fishing spot, but has since become a favourite destination for many South African surfers. It has also been the play-ground of big names such as Sean Holmes, Galen and Tara Hossack. Being both quite a small bay and a very popular one, it tends to get quite crowded on good days. But it's a small price to pay for quality surf.
Type of wave: Right-hand point break. Once again quite a rocky spot, so bring booties and be careful.
Wave size: Starts working at less than 3 ft and can get as large as 12 ft on a good day.
Wave length: 150 - 300m
Best wind direction: North, North-West
Accommodation: Sea Glimpse campsite/caravan park is a stone's throw away from the beach. For info on prices and booking call: 044 889 0043 or e-mail: email@example.com. There are also a number of guest houses, B&Bs, holiday flats and backpackers to choose from.
Other spots to check out: If you're en-route from Cape Town there are a whole lot of cool spots to check out starting at Koeel Bay and ending at Keurbooms just outside Plett. Betty's Bay, Arniston, Vlees Bay, and Inner Pool in Mossel Bay are some of the most prominent along this route.
Jeffrey's Bay is, without a doubt, South Africa's most famous surf destination and you are sure to find it on many a world class surfer's list of favourites. Although there are more than 20 different spots to explore in and around J-Bay, it is the luxuriously long and hollow wave at Supertubes that gets most surfers' hearts racing. This is also where you might bump into legends such as Kelly Slater and Occy during the Billabong Pro, held in July every year.
Type of wave: Right-hand point break
Wave size: Starts working at 3 - 5ft and occasionally reaches a peak of 10ft
Wave length: Between 150 and 500m
Wind direction: North, North-West
Accommodation: Jeffreys Bay has undergone something of a boom in the last couple of years and boasts a wealth of B&Bs, hotels, backpackers and guesthouses. There is also a campsite close to the beach.
Other Eastern Cape spots to check out: Seal Point in Cape St Francis, Nahoon Reef in East London, Boneyards just outside Jeffreys Bay,
Nestled in among the rolling green hills of rural Transkei, Coffee Bay is the epitome of a wild seaside paradise. Although it is not exactly easy to get there, as it is located about 50km off the N2 and the route is pocked with the famous Transkei potholes, you will be rewarded with peace, beauty, good surf and no crowds when you get there. Just be careful of rocks and sharks.
Type of wave: Right-hand Point break
Wave size: Starts working at about 3ft, but can reach up to 8ft.
Wave length: 50 - 150m
Wind direction: West, South-West
Accommodation: With at least 2 camp sites and a grand selection of backpackers to choose from, ranging from romantic to rustic, you won't have to worry about being without a roof (or sail) over your head. If you're after something a bit more sophisticated the Coffee Bay Hotel and Conference center will probably be a good choice.
Other spots: If you're a pro and after some wild adventure, try Devil's Horn. Otherwise Mezeppa Bay, Ntlonaynae and Lwandile are also fun options.
KZN & Durban
This spot is one of the many popular breaks in and around Durban. It is located right by North Beach, making it a quick and easy spot to access if you're in the city. What is especially great about this break is that it is a fun spot for beginners and advanced surfers alike and does not get as crowded as the surrounding Durban spots like New Pier.
Type of wave: Beach break - right and left
Wave size: it can get as big as 12 ft
Wave length: 50 - 150 m
Wind direction: West, South-West
Accommodation: Check out Durban Backpackers on the Beach
Other spots to check out in KZN: Scottburgh on the South Coast, New Pier in Durban, Alkantstrand in Richard's Bay and Ballio. The KZN coast is rife with good surf, so don't rush along without stopping off here and there to test the waters.
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