Living in a holiday destination is dangerous. It's both a blessing and a curse; to 'know' the place so off the cuff that you think you know all of it. I've lived in Jeffreys Bay on the glorious Sunshine Coast in the Eastern Cape for a year. And we’ve been holidaying there my entire childhood. Almost every December.
No one should even try to convince me that there's a better beach in the world. Dolphin Beach, JBay's main swim spot, has it all; man-size waves, warm water, soft sand and enough space for a volleyball court, touchies field and a learn-to-surf section. But there's more to Jeffreys Bay than Dolphin Beach and my childhood favourite supertube 'water-worm', it turns out.
For starters, it has the world's best right pointbreak. The annual JBay Winterfest sees surfers from around the globe descend on this unsuspecting surfers' village to ride it out for the World Surf League Corona Open. It happens right on the doorstep of The Supertubes Collection surf villas, part of Cape Country Routes, which overlook the Supertubes surf.
When you're talking about the 'Supertubes' in Jeffreys Bay, to need to be careful. Most Afrikaans folk will probably direct you to the 'water worm' monstrosity on the main beach, while the surfing population will refer to the world-class surf spot to the left of the Main Beach. The name, in fact, comes from the iconic surf which literally creates ‘Super Tubes’ for the surfers.
Apart from the waves, JBay's famous Kabeljous River also make for a thrilling water sport hub. It forms part of the Kabeljous Nature Reserve, a 2.5km coastline complete with dune thickets, forests, bushveld and wetlands. Hop on one of All Africa Adventures kayaks and peddle upstream to see a flock of feeding Giant Kingfishers or, if you're lucky, a breeding pair of Fish Eagles in their nest. They also offer Fat Bike beach rides on the glorious stretch of sand. The birds, and river name, indicate the lush bounty of Kabeljou, or silver kob, that lures a string of hopeful fisherman daily.
The town is built around another nature reserve. Right in the heart of JBay's Wavecrest suburb lies the Noorsekloof Nature Reserve, an enchanted little kloof where inquisitive Cape grysbokkies thrive - right on the urban edge, close to human activity.
The Noorsekloof Reserve is predominantly valley bushveld, a rare mix of plant species occurring mostly in hot dry valleys and rivers. It's small - only 28 hectares - but boasts over 50 bird species, including the Knysna loerie, Knysna woodpecker and paradise flycatcher. A serene 3km trail alongside the kloof stream starts at the entrance sign in Eland Street and will take you past, through and under some of the natural thorny scrubs.
Because JBay is quite compact and built to overlook the vast bay, you can walk to almost anywhere along the beach. However, there are other ways to get around... Vernando Kamineth operates one of the swaggy JBay Tuk-Tuks from Riksha Tours, owned by JBay local Gerhard Mans. You can do a town tour or call them up to take you to the best surf spots. If the party lingers too late, the Tuk-Tuks are also on standby as the town's unofficial designated drivers.
They offer a service to get you - and your car - home safe. Oh, and they take surfboards, too.
A destination offering world-class waves and adventure needs good grub to keep energy levels up, and JBay delivers. Salty surfers have the luxury of choice with options like InFood Bakery & Cafe, Kitchen Windows, JBay Bru Co, all serving scrumptious beach-vibe grub like fish and chips, wood-fired pizza and stacked burgers. And ice-cold beer, of course.
If you're looking for an iconic JBay beach restaurant experience, you can't go wrong with Walskipper, located on the outskirts of town right on the beach. The food is traditional and grilled over the coals while large fire-pits ward off the cool sea breeze. Shoes are optional, as you'll be dining with your toes in the sand.