SOUTH AFRICA TRAVELLER'S INFORMATION
General Surfing Information for South Africa's SW Coastline
Surfing The Two Oceans | Cape Town, South Africa
At the Southern tip of Africa, lies the Western Cape, a diverse land of rugged mountains and azure oceans, abundant wildlife and amazing cultures. For many surfers this is about as far away from home as one can travel, and exploring and surfing waves in a land that many people know very little about. The chance for uncrowded, world-class waves is a reality in South Africa.Under the watchful gaze of Table Mountain, the city of Cape Town is where most people arrive. Famed for its natural beauty, wine and cosmopolitan people, Cape Town is also a world-class surfing destination. Deep-ocean swells generated off Antarctica have pounded the West-facing coastline, carving the peninsula into a myriad of bays, coves and sandy beaches ideally situated to handle whatever the Two Oceans can muster. The Cape Point Nature Reserve divides the Atlantic Ocean and the warmer Indian Ocean, and it is a true wonder to stand on the tip and witness the two oceans colliding.From the gentle rollers of Muizenberg on the Indian Ocean side, an ideal spot for those learning to surf, the road skirts the mountainous cliffs towards Cape Point. Some great surf can be found in the Reserve itself, but not for the faint-hearted.
Around Cape Point and the Kommetjie area provides most Cape Town surfers their bread and butter. A good variety of reefs, beachbreaks, and some serious big-wave spots like the Crayfish Factory and Sunset. Taking the toll road around Chapman’s Peak the infamous big-wave spot, Dungeons, can be viewed detonating onto the outer-reef in front of the Sentinel cliff-face. This wave in August 2006 produced the biggest waves ever ridden in Africa, with wave faces exceeding 40ft.The water on Cape Town’s Atlantic side is cold, by anyone’s standards. The icy Benguela current brings the polar water up from Antarctica, sweeping the West Coast all the way along to Southern Angola before returning to the deeper waters, and even in summer time the water will average a balmy 14 degrees Celsius. After a frigid couple waves on the head, it fast becomes apparent what the locals refer to as an ‘ice-cream headache’!Amazingly though on the same day as enduring one of the ice-cream headaches surfing the Atlantic, within a 30 minute drive you could be surfing in a spring suit in 19 degree water on the Indian side.The city centre of Cape Town is very small by international standards, and is easily accessible by foot. A vibrant African market buzzes at its heart in Green Market Square, where traders from all over Southern Africa sell their handcrafts and art. Long Street is a colourful mix of old Colonial style buildings alongside random modern developments, and hosts many interesting little shops, café’s and some of the city’s better night spots. At the top of the hill above the city lies Lion’s Head to the right, and Table Mountain to the left.
A must-do for any first-time visitor to Cape Town is to take the revolving cable-car to the top of Table Mountain, the views are absolutely spectacular.Many species of game still inhabit Table Mountain, such as Zebra, Buffalo, Duiker, Baboons and a variety of small antelope. A walk along the Southern slopes will often enjoy sightings of a few of these splendid creatures in their natural habitat.Further up the West Coast there are many quality surf spots, hollow beachbreaks and powerful rocky points and reefs, but access to these waves can be difficult and hard to find as none of them are signposted.
2 hours drive north of Cape Town lies the beginning of the Skeleton Coast, so named for the many ships that have been wrecked along these rugged shores. The climate is dry, with extreme heat by day, and freezing temperatures by night, so it’s imperative to be prepared for both. At the small, dusty fishing-town of Elands Bay is one of the most perfect left-hand pointbreaks in South Africa. The ride’s can be leg-achingly long as the wave spins across the kelp-covered rocks all the way to the beach half a kilometer down the point. The reef here is rich with crayfish and mussels, and after a great surf there isn’t much better than relaxing by the fire with a cold beer, and cooking up some of these delicacies.The Khoi-San people are the original inhabitants of this arid land, and for them the Eland is a sacred animal, and Elands Bay a very sacred place. There is an ancient Khoi-San shamanic cave tucked into the West facing cliff that is very impressive. The walls are adorned with the hundreds of hand-prints of all the shaman’s that have been through the cave over time gone by, and the mouth of the cave looks directly into the setting sun.
Several rustic restaurants are tucked behind the abundant fynbos found along the West Coast Road, this indigenous family of sweet scented flora only found in the Western Cape region. The restaurants specialty is seafood, and lots of it. Most operate a set price, all-you-can-eat feast of fish, prawns, calamari, mussels and other traditional South African food such as Potjiekos (stew cooked in wrought iron pot over coals for several hours), Koeksusters (delicious sweet pastry dessert) and Malva pudding (Warm cake soaked with licquer).The area around Cape Town has so much to offer the traveling surfer, and it is the perfect base from which to explore further places, such as the Garden Route, the magical Jeffrey’s Bay, Transkei homelands, Durban and even Mozambique
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