Surf Spot Guide to South Africa
There’s no denying it – Africa offers some of the best surf spots in the world.
The Best Places to Surf in South Africa
South Africa Surf Tours is based in the Overberg, in the Western Cape region of South Africa. Our guided surf trips and bodyboard holidays extend all along the African coast from Skeleton Bay, Namibia to Jeffrey’s Bay on the East Coast. Our ultimate goal is to ensure our visitors are in the right place, at the right time to score the waves of their dreams.
Depending on the conditions during your stay, your surfing preferences and ability level- we visit a variety of surf spots in South Africa. Many of the waves we visit are world renowned as some of the best surfing beaches in the world, others are lesser known but equally impressive. Read below for more information on a few of the waves we frequent with our guests from all over the world.
Surf Spots in Cape Town
Cape Town surfing = Waves, waves, and more waves. Cape Town is littered with waves. The sheer variety of beaches and waves is what makes it one of the best places to surf in the world.
The beautiful coastline offers world-class picture perfect A-Frame beach breaks, wedges a plenty, slabs that will leave some marks on your underwear and point breaks that will have you weak in the knees.
Cape Town has a large variety of spots to suit every wave rider, at every skill level – leaving them with a lust to return to those icy barrels again and again. Yes the water is cold, but the cold brings a sort of ‘raw’ factor into play that you won’t find in most other places in the world.
The set ups are mind blowing, offering some of the best surfing beaches in the world. Surfing at the foot of mountains, staring out of emerald green glassy barrels onto green rugged landscapes – it’s the stuff dreams are made of.
Some of the more popular breaks in the Cape Peninsula include Llandudno, Noordhoek, Dunes, Muizenburg, Big Bay, Dungeons and Long Beach. That being said, there are many other, less publicised surf spots that prove a heck of a good time!
Llandudno, Cape Town
Llandudno is a beach break situated just outside of the Cape City Bowl. It offers crystal clear wedging barrels that break predominantly right but has some A-frame breaks in the middle of the beach. This wave gets crowded in the summer months, and is quieter in winter months.
Noordhoek, Cape Town
Another world-class wedging beach break that is not for the faint-hearted. Noordhoek breaks shallow and it is heavy.
Dunes, Cape Town
Just a bit more south than Noordhoek, take a short 20 minute walk down a long white sandy beach and you will be greeted by some of the best A-frame waves you have ever laid your eyes on. Dunes handles up to 10ft, and can be considered a fairly exposed beach break. The surf is consistent, and winter is definitely the best time of year for surfing at this spot. The best swell direction to look out for at this wave is southwest.
The beach breaks offer lefts and rights.
Muizenberg Surf Spot
You’ll find Muizenberg in False Bay, just 30 minutes southeast of the city bowl. Muizenberg is one of Cape Town’s most famous beaches. It’s the perfect spot for beginners, and an absolute longboarder’s paradise.
The waves are generally consistently good and mostly gentle, making this beach one of the best places to surf as a beginner in the South Africa.
As you can imagine, it gets pretty crowded. Muizies goes offshore in a northwesterly wind. That being said, the small, rolling waves can be ridden almost year-round.
Big Bay, Cape Town
Big Bay is situated just north of Bloubergstrand, up the coast from Milnerton.. It is another beach break that offers fun for surfers of all skill levels. We grew up in this area, and surfed this fun surf spot on the regular.
The wave at Big Bay is a short ride and best in a south or southeasterly wind, particularly on bigger swells. On smaller days it’s also great for beginners. ‘Eden on the Bay’ centre offers loads of restaurants and bars for post-surf munchies and socialising.
Dungeons, Cape Town
Known as one of the best surf spots in South Africa, and a former fixture on the Big Wave World Tour, Dungeons can get really big. Waves of up to 60ft have been ridden here, so you really need to know your stuff if you attempt this one. It’s a world-renowned right hander, ideal for tow-in surfing.
As with most big waves, Dungeons only works during certain times of the year, but when the waves are pumping you it’s something you do not want to miss.
Long Beach, Cape Town
Long Beach lies southwest of the city near the sleepy town of Kommetjie and has some of the most consistent waves in the Cape Peninsula. With decent swell and a southwesterly wind, Long Beach has a near-perfect wave that breaks both left and right. This wave gets pretty sizeable and is best suited for intermediate to advanced wave riders.
Jeffrey’s Bay , One of the Best Surf Spots in the World
Jeffreys Bay (otherwise known as J-Bay) is world renowned as home to the perfect wave. High up on the bucket list of most surfers, it needs little introduction.
Known as the longest righthand break on the planet, Jeffreys Bay has no less than 10 different sections (You may have heard of Kitchen Windows, Magnatubes, Boneyards, Supertubes, Point, Albatross & Impossibles just to name a few). When the stars & swell conditions align, you’re in for 1 Kilometre long rides between Boneyards and The Point. SW-W winds are offshore for most sections, while NW-NE Berg winds are best avoided as this wave becomes difficult to handle.
Keeping high speed and high line is super important when threading the many sections, and cutting back is very rarely advised. Supertubes is famous as the home of the JBay Corona Open, while the Point and Albatross are the best places to surf for intermediaries and longboarders.
The small coastal town has a very relaxed atmosphere, with friendly locals and moderate temperatures all year round.
South African West Coast Surfing
The West Coast of South Africa is undoubtedly the closest thing to heaven on earth for a surfer. The home of popular waves at Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay, It is the most barren and raw stretch of coastline in South Africa. It is open, and unsheltered from the elements. It’s an incredible stretch of land that turns into the place that surfing dreams are made of when you time it right.
The entire coastline is littered with world-class setups. From Beach breaks that resemble Peurto Escondido, to slabs that could be compared to the best of Western Australia and consistent shorebreaks that will leave you weak in the knees.
The West Coast Winds
The coast is raw and unforgiving, and it’s equally fickle when it comes to winds. When planning a surf trip up the West Coast, you’ll be looking for strong, warm offshores to blow and groom up the cold Atlantic, allowing her to show off her true beauty. Swell is never the issue, as the coast attracts any swell size. You’re usually left with only one option- hardening the eff up and sending it!
What makes the West Coast on the the best places to surf in the world is that crowds are never an issue. You have to drive a couple of hours to reach your destination, and for now there are only a few guys that know where the best surf spots are. The more well-known spots closer to Cape Town will get crowded over weekends if those magic winds decide to show face, but the lesser known spots still offer uncrowded perfection.
The water is cold, there’s no denying it. Generally the water temperatures range between 10 to 15 degrees, if you’re lucky. The low water temperatures add a sense of raw energy to the surfing experience in the West Coast, in my opinion at least. It’s about waking up in your tent on icy mornings, seeing the pumping, uncrowded waves in front of you, and pep-talking yourself into putting on yesterday’s damp wetsuit. Because you know it’s worth it, every damn time.
Nighttime in winter can get pretty icy, especially when you’re camping on an unsheltered beach. Luckily, that’s nothing a couple of layered jackets, an open fire and a few Old Brown Sherry’s can’t fix.
The days generally become quite warm and dry when the offshores blow properly. This turns daytime in the West Coast into a summer-like oasis in the middle of winter. During the day temperatures can rise to over 30 degrees, even in the middle of winter. A pair of shorts and a singlet always comes in handy during the day, and sunblock. Never forget your sunblock!
West Coast Trip Length
Your West Coast surf trip’s length can be anything from 1 to 5 days of pumping waves. Seasoned West Coast veterans often head up for just one day, when the conditions are worth it. When the stars completely align, however, you could be looking at up to 5 full days of the best waves of your life. It all depends on the conditions, of course.
Camping under the stars
Camping under the stars is the preferred form of accommodation when on the West Coast. There are very few things that beat standing around a camp fire with a couple of beers, swopping surfing success stories from the day. When you start creating a picture in your head about these trips, its very difficult to get rid of it until you do them, and even then you’ll find yourself longing to return as often as possible.
Overberg Surf Spots, South Africa
Our surf lodge in located in the Overberg, so we might be a bit biased on this one. We truly believe it’s one of the greatest surfing stretches in the world. This stretch of coastline is ripe with all kinds of waves from your dreams. From world-class picture perfect A-Frame beach breaks, to square barrels, point breaks, and heaving slabs. This coastline offers waves for every surf skill level.
Koeel Bay is a powerful right hand wedge beach break in the most epic setting imaginable. This wave is at the foot of a mountain range with spectacular landscapes surrounding the wave. This surf spot is predominantly more consistent in the Summer months. This surf spot picks up a lot of swell and is not for the faint hearted.
Photo: Morne Laubscher
Level: All Levels
Betty’s Bay is a more sheltered peaky beach break that offers lefts and rights for any skill level. The setting is picturesque, with the beach nestled in mountains. It can handle larger winter swells and generally works better in Winter months. This wave favours the winter winds, making it one of the best surfing beaches between April and August.
Predominantly a left-breaking wave, Kleinmond is growing in popularity. It has a strong current that forces the wave into a rip bowl that can offer good barrels and fun sections when the conditions align.
Level: All Levels
A wave that consistently changes and can offer barrels and ramps for all skill levels. Onrus is a predominantly right hand wave but offers the occasional left.
Skeleton Bay, Namibia Surfing
Last, but not least. A favourite wave for South Africa Surf Tours, Skeleton Bay, Namibia (also known as Donkey Bay) can be referred to as the diamond of the desert. When this natural phenomenon occurs, it’s easily rated the best wave in the world.
The longest sand-bottomed left known, Skeleton Bay first came to light as a surf spot in 2008. Situated along Namibia’s remote Skeleton Coast- it’s an experience like no other. The bay is in the middle of the Namibian desert. It’s hot, cold, dusty and windy – but it’s all worth it if you catch the wave on the right conditions.
These days, when a good swell is heading to Donkey Bay, you’ll see the usual suspects like Koa Smith, Andre Botha, Benji Brand, Anthony Walsh and many other professional wave riders flock to this natural wonder.
The wave itself is the best wave you’ll ever see, it’s hollow, thick, fast, shallow and beautiful. It’s not easy, don’t let the perfect Youtube POV fool you. Only experienced surfers should surf this wave.
It breaks down a sand point that is about 2km long, YES 2 KILOMETERS! To throw something extra into the mix, there’s a strong rip current that pulls you down the point. This rip current pulls you at about 20km/h if you don’t paddle hard enough against it. And before you know it, you have drifted down the point without even catching a wave.
Bearing this in mind, it’s fair to say your fitness should be up to scratch if you want to have a good time at the Donkey. So, if you’re planning a trip to this natural wonder, dust off those joggers and get that stamina up. The more laps you do, the more chance you have of getting that minute long barrel you’ve been dreaming of!
South Africa Surf Tours offers guided Skeleton Bay surf trips for those looking to score this natural wonder.
Check out Koa Smith’s latest Skeleton Bay clip to have your mind blown.
South Africa Surf Tours
South Africa Surf Tours offers learn to surf holidays for beginners, as well as surf guide services for intermediate and advanced surfers. We specialize in showing you the best places to surf in South Africa and Namibia.