South Africa is popular with international surfers. Since the 1940s, the country has been one of the world’s best-known surfing locations.
There are many famous surf spots along the 2,798 (1,739 mi) km of south African coastline and there are breaks for all levels. While beginners can sign up with one of the many local schools, expert surfers will be able to enjoy big winter swells and avoid crowded lineups.
In this article, readers will find useful information regarding the most popular places to surf in South Africa and what foreigners need to do in order to plan a South African surf holiday.
Where Can I Surf in Cape Town?
The Southern city of Cape Town is certainly one of the most beloved destinations among surfers. Not only it offers stunning beaches and a great number of surfing schools and clubs, but Cape Town is also one of South Africa’s greatest tourist attractions.
In Cape Town, foreign visitors will find:
- History: many museums and Robben Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that remembers the apartheid
- Nature: locals and foreigners alike climb the Table Mountain and enjoy a stroll in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
- Culture: Cape Town is a colorful, buzzing city with plenty of music, art galleries, and restaurants
Surfing spots for beginners in Cape Town
Muizenberg is one of South Africa’s most renowned surfing spots. The Surfer’s Corner is popular with those who wish to learn also because of the great number of schools.
Protected from winds and currents, it is a safe place to start. Be mindful of the great number of people flocking here every day.
Long Beach is, as the name suggests, a long sandy beach. Here surfers will easily find a long ride and breaks to the left and the right.
Big Bay can be found between Blouberg and Melkbos and offers both a right and a left break.
Breaks for advanced surfers in Cape Town
The Cape Town area offers plenty of options to advanced surfers. Here are some of the most renowned ones:
- Dunes, 6 to 8-foot waves, can only be reached after a 30-minute walk
- The Hoek, only breaks during the summer months
- Pebbles, best for bodyboarders
- Off the Wall for great barrels
- Scarborough Beach, ideal to avoid crowds
The Surf City: Surf Spots in Durban
Also thanks to its year-round pleasant weather and warm temperatures, Durban is certainly one of the world’s surfing capitals.
Here, tourists will find a lively international surfing community made of friendly and laid back surfers coming from all over the planet. There are also some impressive diving spots for those who enjoy observing the water from below as well as riding it.
Learning to surf in Durban
Beginners can head to the famous Golden Mile. This is the stretch of land located between South Beach and the Suncoast Casino. Here, waves tend to be safer and smaller.
Addington Beach and uShaka Beach, in particular, have become popular with learners because of the many high-quality schools and the piers and sandbanks.
Surf spots for experienced surfers in Durban
Those who feel steadier on their board prefer the South Coast, which offers many reef and beach breaks and hollow waves. It is a favorite because of the incredible barrel quality that can be found here.
Some of the most famous spots include:
- Southbroom for a sand bottom
- Umzumbe for long rides
- St Michael on the Sea, very popular, can be crowded at times
Surfing in Port Elizabeth, the Up and Coming City
Also known as the “windy city”, Port Elizabeth is recording a great boost in international arrivals.
That is because young entrepreneurs in Port Elizabeth are opening bars and restaurants and organizing events that have a positive impact on the local culture and nightlife. Moreover, Port Elizabeth is one of the country’s safest locations and enjoys mild weather all year round.
Find below some of Port Elizabeth’s best surfing spots:
- Mdumbi, long rides of up to 800 meters
- Ntlonyane, almost unparalleled tubing under the right conditions
- Queensberry Bay, short rides but often deserted during the week
- Nahoon Reef, one of the locals’ favorites, it can often become crowded
- Humewood, often referred to as the best barrel wave in Port Elizabeth, Humewood is ideal for experienced surfers
How far is Jeffreys Bay from Port Elizabeth?
Jeffreys Bay is a town in the Eastern Cape and is undoubtedly the most famous surfing spot in South Africa.
Jeffreys Bay has been voted number 2 best in the world for surfing and is the backdrop to the World Surfing League competition every year in July.
What makes Jeffreys Bay so famous is an especially long, fast, tubing right-hand point break in the west side of the bay.
Jeffreys Bay is only a 1-hour drive from Port Elizabeth and can be reached by bus.
Planning a Surfing Holiday in South Africa
Millions of people decide to make South Africa their holiday destination every year. Many of these are surfers of all levels who wish to ride some of the world’s most popular waves for the first time or learn to surf here.
South Africa is known for being relatively inexpensive when it comes to surfing, with one class costing under $20, the cheapest in the world after Ecuador.
The weather is one of the most important factors when deciding when to go to South Africa. The winter season (June to September) will see bigger waves and overall better surfing conditions for advanced surfers. Moreover, being considered low season, it will be more affordable and less crowded.
However, the cold water temperature and difficulty of the rides make winter not ideal for beginners who just want to spend some time surfing and learning during the holidays. These surfers may prefer the warmer and dryer months.
Before booking a plane ticket, though, foreign visitors should note that they may need to apply for a South African visa.
Although South Africa has visa-free travel agreements with certain countries, others must get a relevant and valid visa in order to enter the country. Foreign nationals are advised to check their specific visa requirements as they plan their holidays.