Celebrate South African culture and history and make the most out of this annual holiday
African Soul Surfer Backpackers in Muizenberg
The scoop on the surf-mad hostel that’s closer to the beach than any other in Cape Town
If Kelly Slater had a bucket list of spots to stay in Cape Town, there’s no doubt that the African Soul Surfer backpackers would be on it. Perched right on the edge of one of South Africa’s most popular surfing beaches, closer to the shoreline than any other hostel in the Mother City, the colourful Muizenberg-based lodging is a veritable wave rider’s wonderland.
The double-storey house rents out boards and wetsuits, offers surfing lessons with qualified instructors, and even brings the outside vibe in by weaving surfing culture into its every facet. The walls are adorned with marine-inspired artworks, vintage collectable surfboards and vibrant murals dedicated to the art of wave riding; the bar counter features a collection of seashells under a glass pane (it was built by Jamie himself); the 15 spacious rooms are all named after famous surf spots; and the whole space radiates the sort of chilled-out, carefree aura typical of those who spend the better part of their lives bobbing out on the ocean.
Though, that’s not to say that the backpackers is geared only at those who like balancing on breakers. Rather, it’s designed to appeal to anyone who simply prefers the smell of salt on the air and the sound of seagulls squawking to the vibrations of whirring traffic and the urban flurry and frenzy of a city centre. The lodging is not far from the CBD, sure, but it is far enough away to be able to offer guests the easy pace and peacefulness of the great outdoors and the chance to get acquainted with a lesser-known part of our pretty metropolis.
“We want the backpackers to be the gateway to the Southern Peninsula,” says owner Jamie Nye, a passionate traveller and surfer who also founded African Heart Backpackers in the suburb of Observatory. “The key aim is to showcase this side of Cape Town to people so that they can see that there’s more to this city than the CBD”.
And that doesn’t mean merely introducing visitors to the most well-known nearby sights of Cape Point and Boulders Beach (those are covered on standard peninsula tours, anyway). Rather, Jamie sees African Soul Surfer as a base from which tourists (and locals on a weekend break) can explore the hidden gems of the region: the little antique stores, bustling night markets, underground coffee shops, historical landmarks, quaint galleries and quirky eateries.
Similarly, they can explore the nature lover within by tackling one of the area’s many hikes or rock climbing routes, they can unleash their inner yogi (the hostel is home to a sea-facing yoga studio where classses are held 7 days a week) or they can just indulge the part of themselves that’s keen for a social good time.
The downstairs section of African Soul Surfer is where such good times are had. This floor is divided into a medley of public zones, including a lounge, a self-catering kitchen, a sunny sit-down nook where overnighters can sip on world-class coffee made with fresh Table Mountain spring water and tuck into wholesome breakfasts that include superfoods like chia seeds, raw cacao, hemp seed, a bar that bustles in the evenings, a games room fitted with a pool table and, perhaps best of all, a long balcony that yields uninterrupted views of the ocean and Muizenberg’s iconic boldly coloured bathing huts. And to keep up a happening vibe, the lodging regularly hosts everything from beer pong competitions and bring-and-braai nights to monthly cultural evenings that combine an art exhibition, a live music gig and a movie screening.
As for the upstairs zone, well, this is where the hostel’s smorgasbord of comfy quarters lie, tucked safely away behind a fingerprint access control system. Owing to their elevated position and location on the front side of the building, most of the rooms come with incredible vistas of the marine waterscape that stretches out before the lodging, and, as Jamie says, “the fact that you can lie in bed and watch the sun rise out of the sea or even watch the occasional whale breaching in season is very special”.
Room options include doubles for couples, larger family chambers for clans with kids, twins and singles with private balconies and a selection of four- and six-bed dorms equipped with roomy custom-made bunks (there’s a girls-only dorm too). Linen and pillows are provided, the décor is playful and bold, and all the quarters feature the high ceilings and worn wooden floors typical of the buildings built here in the early 1900s.
Of course, they also claim the expansive paned windows of the time, which do the backpackers a great service by letting in the holiday-laced scent of sea air and the comforting sound of swells crashing, just begging future Kelly Slaters to head outside and ride them.
Tip 1: If you’re looking to do some volunteer work in South Africa, then African Soul Surfer is a great place to stay. The hostel partners with a local community project that gives underprivileged children educational support and teaches them important life lessons through the medium of surfing, and it’ll happily host anyone who’s keen to get involved with this initiative.
Tip 2: The backpackers offers guests a complimentary cup of coffee or tea every morning and also allows the free use of its boogie boards, beach bats and volleyball equipment – just ask about this at reception.
Tip 3: African Soul Surfer offers a winter special which allows guests to pay and stay for six nights and get the seventh night FREE. Book directly with the backpacker’s reservation team.
The Bill: The hostel holds true to its backpackers status and keeps rates affordable. A bed in a dorm costs R190p/p per night, which include ten, four and six beds, as well as a ladies only dorm. A single balcony room with sea views goes for R580 per night. A double room with sea views, wood floors and high ceiling is priced at R665 per night. A triple room with a double and single bed goes for R885 per night, and a quad room, which sleeps four and is set at R1045 per night. Breakfast can be ordered for an extra R40 and guests can also enjoy a surfing lesson for R350p/p, a yoga class for R80p/p, and a Chi Gung class for R100. Also, be sure to check out the African Soul Surfer website for more info on its super cool Surf and Yoga Camps package deals.
Looking for affordable places to stay closer to the city centre? Read our overview of Best Backpackers in Cape Town!
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