Surfing is an integral part of South African culture. From the colder Cape waters to the tropical warmth of the Indian Ocean, young and old mingle at popular surf spots from early morning until sundown with a single goal – to pick the best wave of the day and ride it all the way to the beach.

Did you know?

Experts predict that South African surfer Jordy Smith will be the next world champ.


Surfing is synonymous with South Africa, which is not surprising when one considers that 2 000 kilometres of waves pound this part of the African coastline.

Add to this mix ideal weather for the greater part of the year and it's not surprising that so many talented boardriders have emerged from South Africa to take on the world's best.

A surfer's life is the envy of many - hot weather, cool waves, admiring glances, tanned bodies and a brotherhood that links surfers worldwide - so while you're visiting, why not become part of the vibe?

From Sodwana Bay's crystal waters to the tourist Meccas of Umhlanga and Durban, the south coast spots of Amanzimtoti, Scottburgh and Margate, the east coast will spoil you for choice.

Further south lies the rugged Wild Coast with many secret spots known only to the pros, followed by East London and Port Elizabeth with their colder, green waters and classic barrelling waves.

In the Eastern Cape, locals will tell you about "the pipe" in Port Elizabeth, at Hout Bay in the Western Cape it's all about the monster-sized waves at Dungeons, in Victoria Bay on the Garden Route there's a point-break you can walk to, and then there's surfing in Jeffrey's Bay (J-Bay), home of the legendary long right.

J-Bay is where reputations are built and destroyed. Take a road trip to the scenic Eastern Cape to watch the pros carve up classic waves at Supertubes, Boneyards or The Point.

Beginners are better advised to start small at Durban's Addington Beach or Cape Town's Muizenberg Beach where conditions are fairly small and consistent.

South African surfing activities include surf schools at all the larger tourist destinations.

Local and international events lure professional riders with big purses, while development surf school trainers offer disadvantaged youngsters from impoverished communities a skill to aspire to.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

African Ubuntu Surf School
Tel: +27 (0)42 296 0376

Gary's Surf School
Tel: +27 (0)21 788 9839

The Secret Spot Surf Camp
Tel: +27 (0)32 525 5479

Tours to do

If you're keen to experience a variety of surf conditions, it would be advisable to spend time on both the east coast and west coast of the country, since conditions between the two vary considerably.

How to get around

If you're keen to do a surfabout and test all the top spots, then car hire is the best option, and driving from the Cape west coast to the KZN east coast will give you an overview. If you have a specific location in mind, national airports take you to the bigger cities from where you can drive.

What will it cost

Access to beaches in South Africa is almost exclusively free of charge. Small spots with limited parking facilities may charge a nominal fee, but a free beach is always nearby. Popular spots are usually manned by lifeguards.

What to pack

A visit to the beach, especially in summer, necessitates lathering yourself with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) sunblock to protect your skin from the sun; a sunhat; sunglasses and slops to save your feet from burning on the hot sand.

Where to stay

Bigger seaside resorts offer a variety of accommodation, from flatlets to B&Bs and top-class hotels, while smaller spots are likely to have caravan and camping facilities.

What to eat

If you're keen to live the total surfer experience, toasted sandwiches and coffee are de rigueur.

What's happening

Due to the excellent surf conditions in South Africa, a number of local and internationally rated surf contests take place during the year, most notably the Mr Price Pro in June-July in Ballito and the Billabong Pro at Jeffrey's Bay.

Best buys

A good pair of "boardies" or board shorts is important. Surfboards may be hired at popular surf spots.