South Africa’s coastline is defined by a wild series of points and bays. And in the words of surf-blogger David Bristow, “Any surfer worth his or her bar of Mr Zog’s Sex Wax knows that points and bays are the salt and water of surfing.”
South Africa’s beaches and waves are world famous and have long lured surfers and beach lovers from around the globe.
Jeffreys Bay is supertube central! Better known as J-Bay. Think of those kilometre-long rolling barrels featured in the 60’s surf classic Endless Summer – which was filmed at nearby St Francis Bay.
Ranked by South African Tourism as South Africa's premier surf spot, J Bay has consistently amazing tubes and one of the best right hand point breaks in the whole wide world.
The Sunshine Coast of the Eastern Cape is a hub of winter activity right now, as the following video posted to Facebook by Robbie Irlam on 23 June shows the seasons' intense winter swells have arrived.
Visit Irlam's Facebook page to see more of his amazing surfing photography.
NOTE: Upcoming events of note include the Ballito Pro in KwaZulu-Natal and then the Corona Open J-Bay between 12 to 23 July. Not to be missed - click here for more info.
Also check out Wavescape – for news, surf webcams, forecasts, photos and videos.
Wax up and hit the water
The country’s surf ranges from safe swells that are good for beginners, to epic breaks for only the toughest.
Like at Dungeons in Hout Bay in the Western Cape - one of the worlds’ big wave venues and home to the Red Bull Big Wave Africa surfing competition. When conditions are right, Dungeons produces the biggest ride-able waves on the coast of Africa, where “giant two-storey snarling beasts are known to swallow and spit out the world’s best big wave pro’s”.
Apparently the new game in town is to body surf the monster. Eish.
Some of South Africa’s other best known surf spots are East London, Durban and Cape Town.
The Cape's best surf spots are fiercely debated
The Cape is much loved for its surfing and beach culture and it’s pretty much a 360 degrees, 365 days a year ride there.
Some say Muizenberg on the Indian Ocean side of the peninsula – where the water is warmer and Surfer’s Corner buzzes. Others say it’s on the Atlantic side – at the Kom in Kommetjie - a big wave spot that delivers Hawaiian style massive curlers on a big westerly swell. Whoa.
Other hot spots are Kommetjie’s Long Beach which has a consistent shore break and is utterly beautiful – and ditto Kalk Bay, which has been has been described as a surf spot with a Mother City attitude - consistent, left-breaking waves, and the occasional savage barrel.
SEE: #SAWinterWonders: Capturing waves as thrilling as riding them
Durban - surfers call itthe Bay of Plenty
Where the warm waves pump all year round, Durban is the home of surfing, beach boys and babes, and an intriguing mosaic of people and cultures concentrated in the Golden Mile.
Durban’s Dairy beach is famous for its good surf.
In the middle of it is New Pier, which carves up some of the best man-made waves in Africa, courtesy of the massive pier.
Cave Rock at the Bluff is known for its serious surf – and South Beach is beach bummers paradise - a long languid stretch of Indian Ocean beachfront.
The surf’s always up along the Western Cape’s Garden Route
With Buffels Bay (or Buffs as it's dubbed) Mossel Bay, Stil Bay being popular surf spots. Up the coast, both Port Elizabeth and laidback East London have a thriving beach culture, with kickass scenery and great waves. You’ll need special speed and power to master the reef waves at Nahoon and Gonubie in East London.
Living up to its name, the Wild Coast is known for its razor sharp reefs and powerful swells – and Port St John's, Wild Coast is a legendary beach bumming place, with a good surfing swimming, chilling and hanging out scene.
And on the other side of the country, Elandsbaai on the West Coast has been described as a J Bay in reverse – when a south-easter hold up a westerly swell to produce a cranking left point break.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- A South African traveller’s perspective: What surfing can teach you about life
- Take a southern surfari
- Surfing Cape Town's Muizenberg beach in winter