Most serious surfers live close enough to the coastline that they have a favorite surf spot—a kind of home base as it were. It’s true that the surf conditions are constantly changing and that no two waves are the same. In theory, you can find a lifetime of endless enjoyment without traveling very far, but what fun is there in that? Every surfing beach and regional coastline has its own characteristics and charm. Plus, if you’re like me and like a lot of people, you like to travel anyway. Everybody is a benny somewhere.
My favorite vacation and one of the best weeks of my entire life was the time I spent in South Africa—going on safari, yes, but also surfing along the coast. Learn to Surf isn’t the only one who’s noticed that the surfing in South Africa is some of the best in the world. It’s not just the intensity or consistency of the surf, it’s also the breathtaking views that span almost the entire length of the country’s coast. There are amazing spots for pros and beginners alike. We’re not the only ones who are saying it, either.
A Paradise for New Surfers
Whether you’re a local or traveling halfway around the world, don’t think that South Africa, despite being such a well-known spot for surfing, is just for the pros. As The Telegraph points out, beginners can find their own surfing paradise in South Africa.
Finding and Choosing Your Spots
Trying to figure out exactly where to go and what to expect when you get there. Look into Trip Savvy to find a handy list of blurbs for all the popular surfing spots in South Africa.
The Time of Year Matters
More than touristy praise, you’ll want to find some of the real trip-planning tips for surfing in South Africa. First thing to know, the seasons are reversed. So, while the best swells are generally found in July and August according to Surfing Waves, this is also the coldest time of year, so be sure to pack your wetsuit. January and February, you can probably get by with just a rashie.
Get Last-Minute Information
If you have a flexible itinerary during your South Africa trip, there’s no reason to miss out on the best days and the best conditions for surfing. You can use this surf forecast and local data from MagicSeaWeed to make the best decisions, even the morning of the same day, about when and where to go surfing.
Plan the Perfect Trip for Your Interests
Of course, to have fun, you have to be prepared. Hardcore surfers may pay the extra fee for oversized luggage, but most people of all skill levels will do just fine with surfboard rentals. If you are interested in traveling with your surfboard, the last time we checked, you were lucky if you found an airline that would only charge you $50 each way. $100 each way is more likely, and possibly $200 each time if you’re traveling internationally.
Safari with Surfing in South Africa
Let’s go Surfing Safari! It’s also worth pointing out that South Africa provides opportunities for more than one type of surfing trip. A lot of people think South Africa is all about Johannesburg, Cape Town, and going on safari. And they’re not wrong—If you’re going to be in South Africa, I also highly recommend seeing Kruger National Park. But for those who love surfing, you probably don’t want to spend your entire time looking at land-based wildlife and the African savannah.
These other attractions make for great combination trips to South Africa. They can also be especially important to convince a group of friends and family to go on the trip with you when surfing may not be their first love. Go with a mixed group and there will still be plenty to do in South Africa for everyone. And the waves don’t always cooperate. While Durban is known for the most consistent waves, even Durban has its off days. It’s also a myth that you can’t find South African safari package trips that, nonetheless, allow for the necessary flexibility to get in a fair amount of surfing. We went on the Rothschild Travel and Leisure South African Safari that gave us four days to spend in and around Cape Town and where there’s plenty of surfing in the surrounding area.
Final myth, the days of scams on South African vacations are over. Yes, it did used to happen, but everything is different now. The industry and the country is cleaned up its act as they have come to rely on foreign travelers to help run the economy and now everyone is in on the concept of making everyone safe and protecting their interests. Here is a short list of the companies that we have either used personally or people close to us have used and would recommend. But do your own research. These are safari companies, not necessarily surfing outfitters:
Bear in mind those are some high-end operators. There are cheaper ways of doing things, I just don’t have experience with many of them.
Surfing-Focused Vacation Trips
Now, with this in mind, if you’re like way into surfing and have heard about the South African coast, know that it won’t disappoint. I was fortunate enough that I had a group of people who were committed to surfing. So, in addition to hitting Muizenbuerg, Long Beach, and Dungeons (my personal favorite) while we were in Cape Town, we also spent a couple days around Port Elizabeth and the famous Jeffries Bay. We hit the Supertubes and Cape St Francis, before also hitting Look Out in Port Elizabeth before circling back to Cape Town. It was a great time with a few really great waves, but it wasn’t anything like they said it can get, with one bomb after another. And just in the handful of spots we did hit, there was such an incredible variety and consistency to the spots. We also stopped at a couple more remote places, including one spot that I don’t know if I could find again if I had to.
But here’s the other thing to note: We didn’t even do nearly all the surfing there is in South Africa. If we had had more time and money, we could have kept going to East London, KwaZulu-Natal (what a name), and Durban—where there’s another cluster of surfing destinations that rival Cape Town and Port Elizabeth! If you’re interested in competitive events and professional leagues in South Africa, you’ll want to contact Surfing South Africa.