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Best Surf Spots in and Around Cape Town

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Best Surf Spots in and Around Cape Town

Your guide to the best places to catch a wave in and around Cape Town 

Last Update: December 12, 2016

Cape Town has an abundance of surf spots along its coast, from coves with small, gentle swells, to expansive beaches boasting big, bone-crunching waves. Rather surprisingly, the typically icy Cape Peninsula water temperatures rise during the winter time, making the months of June, July and August ideal for a surf; not to mention, the bigger winter storms make for bigger swells! 

Before you bound off to find a killer wave though, it’s important to keep a keen eye on weather forecasts, wind direction and swell size predictions – these elements all affect how you choose your surf spot.

Each surf spot has certain conditions that make it an ideal choice (this is largely related to wind direction). Muizenberg, for example, is off-shore on a north-westerly wind. This means that the wind blows from the direction of the beach onto the sea, creating clean, long lines of waves, rather than flat, white water.

Aside for this factor though, surfers new to Cape Town should be wary of a few housekeeping notes:

  • Locals tend to be very protective over certain spots, which means that not any grom (young or inexperienced surfer) or spongebob (body boarders) can paddle out to the line-up.
  • Shark attacks ( read about safe surfing and shark attacks) have occurred in Cape Peninsula waters, especially on the False Bay side; thus, be sure to take proper precautions.

Otherwise, grab your board and head out to conquer some of the best surfing spots the Mother City has to offer. Surf’s up!

Muizenberg
The Surfer’s Corner at Muizenberg is a popular learning spot, and is only about a 30-minute drive from the Cape Town city centre. The waves characteristic of this surf spot are gentle, and are ideal under a north-westerly wind direction. The beach front is a popular family spot, and the range of restaurants and coffee shops nearby offers the perfect respite after a chilly surf.
Level of experience: beginner

Long Beach
Long Beach at Kommetjie is just that, a long, sandy beach that’s very popular with surfers. The wave breaks both to the left and the right, which gives ample opportunities for both natural (right-leg dominated surfer) and goofy footers (left-leg dominated surfer) to conquer a killer wave. It’s about a 40-minute drive from the Cape Town city centre. The break is offshore on a south-west wind, and is suitable for more experienced surfers.
Level of experience: intermediate

Scarborough Beach
Scarborough is popular with surfers and body boarders because of its beautiful views and low levels of congestion. It's about 48-km from Cape Town (45-minutes drive), and never gets crowded, except on beautiful summer days. When the wind blows, it’s an ideal spot for flying kites and kite surfing.
Level of experience: intermediate to advanced

Big Bay
This beach break spot between Melkbos and Bloubergstrand is popular with surfers of any level. It’s about a 30-minute drive from the city centre, and is best on a day when an east to south-east wind is blowing. The spot is known for its friendly locals, and has a cosy coffee shop across the park for an after-surf pick-me-up.  
Level of experience: beginner on small days, intermediate and advanced on bigger wave days.

Glen Beach
If you’re not a seasoned surfer, you should rather avoid Glen Beach. Locals are very protective over this spot, and may be unwelcoming to newbies. Glen Beach can also get quite crowded when conditions are favourable; nonetheless, it is much loved among surfers for its powerful, hollow waves and beautiful surroundings - the Twelve Apostels loom majestically in the background. It is ideally located, a mere five minutes drive from the city centre, right between Clifton and Camps Bay beaches.
Level of experience: advanced

Llandudno
This beach break spot boasts, arguably, one of the most picturesque settings in the world: crystal-blue water, snow-white sand and majestic boulders all add to its visual charm. The spot is about a 15-minute drive from the city centre, and is well-liked among surfers and body boarders,   so expect to share the waves with many other eager souls. Also note, Llandudno is not for the faint-hearted: the wave gets really hollow, and big, nasty granite boulders loom near the right-hand wedge.
Level of experience: intermediate to advanced

Off The Wall
Off The Wall is the aptly named surf spot that breaks off the promenade wall of Mouille Point, next door to Sea Point. The spot is quit fickle, as surfers have to sit on top of each other, waiting for a short, sharp take-off. As a result, you have a limited time to paddle into the wave, and the drop can be quite steep, leaving little room for error with regards to board-positioning. The wave can be quite hollow at times, ensuring many barrelling opportunities. If struggling to find this spot, look out for the line of horizontal trees in the car park; the result of the unrelenting South Easterly wind. 
Level of experience: advanced

Dunes
If you are keen for a bit of mission, head out to Dunes. It is about a 40-minute drive from the city in the direction of Noordhoek Beach. In order to get to the beach break, you will have to trek along a mega-stretch of beach, which will take you roughly 30 minutes. On a good surf day (which requires a south-easterly wind), you can expect solid six to eight foot waves that provides world-class tubes.
Level of experience: Advanced

Crayfish Factory
The factory is home to some of Cape Town’s heaviest, but most exhilarating waves. About a 50- minute drive from Cape Town, the spot is ideal when there is a north or north-easterly wind, so make sure you check the surf forecast before taking on the long journey. The scary right-hand waves that make the Craysfish Factory home can reach 15 feet in height, and have been the subject of terror and anguish for many surfers.
Level of experience: advanced

Dungeons
Made famous by Red Bull Big Wave Africa, this big right-hander is a spot that is seldom ridden by paddle-surfers, but tow-surfers (when surfers are towed into large waves by a jet ski) abound. This is definitely not a wave for amateur surfers; it is only meant for well-honed surfers with courage to match their skill. One session on 30 July 2006 saw tow surfers tackle monstrous 60-foot waves – the biggest waves ridden in Africa at the time. Dungeons is just off the Sentinel off Hout Bay, you can expect a 25-minute drive from town.
Level of experience: advanced


by Adri de Kock

For more information about Safe surfing and shark attacks, check out our Q&A with surf instructor, Ant Scholte.

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