#ItsAllStillHere: Cape Town dropping into surf tourism + best waves in SA

2018-09-11 14:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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Man surfing a barrel wave

Jordy Smith in a new tourism campaign for Cape Town. (Photo: Wesgro)

All South Africans and their dog know about Cape Town's big surf scene, but do international tourists?

This is what Wesgro wants to tackle with their new campaign that reimagines the drought narrative to attract surf tourists to the city. The campaign is made up of a three-part video series, each focusing on three of Cape Town's top internationally acclaimed surfers.

SEE: Get gnarly at 8 of Eastern Cape's top surf spots

Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said at the launch on Monday that the negative Day Zero campaign had pushed Cape Town off bucket list considerations and that it's time to speed up the recovery of the drought. 

“As the tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, we wanted to use our most influential young ambassadors, who travel the world to surf, to remind global travellers just how special this destination is. In the films they pay homage to individual Capetonians and local businesses that took it upon themselves to change their relationship with water to get us through this challenging period,” says Harris.

They want to move away from the drought imagery, especially the use of rain and dams, but instead create a different narrative around water resources in the city - and this is where surfing comes in.

Adventure travellers are more resilient than your average travellers according to Harris, looking for not only adrenaline by cultural experiences and are environmentally conscious on their travels. These youthful travellers are also setting the future travel trends, and they can help shape the message that Wesgro wants to spread about Cape Town - that the city is open for business.

Surf tourism can be niche, but it seeds into other avenues like beach, coastal, road trip and backpacker tourism, and locally bred surfers that shine on the international stage have been nominated as the city's ambassadors for this campaign.

WATCH: Surfer takes an epic 1.5km ride into history off the coast of Namibia

The first video released is with Jordy Smith, widely considered the top-rated surfer in South Africa. He's won two Jeffreys Bay competitions and multiple international competitions in California, Brazil and Australia.

The video juxtaposes the salty water of surf champions and saving water on-land, with the pro-surfer inviting the world to come join him in Cape Town.

Frank Solomon is a Hout Bay local, and an expert in Big Wave surfing. He also has a surf school where he teaches kids from socio-economically disadvantaged communities to surf and other ocean skills, This shows them how to make an income from the ocean without destroying it.

He's also bringing out a surf film called Let's Be Frank that looks at turning the style of surf films on its head.

SEE: Coast along SA's golden Sunshine Coast for your next road trip experience

The last of the trio is Michael February, a local rookie from Kommetjie who is making big splashes on the surf scene, and the industry is expecting big things from him. He's the South African to watch, and has come a long way from the days when his father was banned to surf in many areas in Cape Town during Apartheid, and even after the regime ended in 1994.

The last two videos are still to be released.

“We are immensely grateful to Jordy, Frank and Mikey who took part in the campaign free of charge. We are honoured to have such passionate international spokespeople for the city and province, who were willing to give up time between the World Surf League competitions to film with us,” concluded Harris.

Where can you find the best waves in South Africa?

South Africa’s coastline is defined by a wild series of points and bay, the key ingredients for a good surf spot. We have a year-round vibrant surf and beach culture with plenty of backpackers hostels, beach bars and surf schools geared up for board rental, escorted surf-aris and surfing lessons. 

South Africa’s best-known surf spots are Jeffreys Bay, East London, Durban and Cape Town.

WATCH: A holidaymaker's guide to SA's Sunshine Coast

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.  

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.

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 described as a surf spot with a Mother City attitude - consistent, left-breaking waves, and the occasional savage barrel. 

SEE: #ThePreferredLife: Stay in luxury while spying on surfers at Kommetjie in Cape Town

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. 

Durban - surfers call it the 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.  

SEE: Bar hopping through Durban in style

The surf’s always up along the Western Cape’s Garden Route

With Buffels Bay (or Buffs as it's dubbed) Mossel Bay and Stilbaai 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 Johns, 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.

SEE: These are the best 16 coastlines in the world - and obviously SA made the list

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