TRAVEL – African Travel Report

Surfing in Africa has been around for some time, but when Bruce Brown proclaimed, “Hey, Mike, we’re in Africa!” in The Endless Summer it was the beginning of something great. Cape Saint Francis lit the world up in 1964; today J-Bay and Dungeons have the world’s spotlight. The wave potential throughout Africa is outrageous. Unfortunately civil wars, disease and great big sharks are some what of a deterrent for the less aggressive surf traveler. If you’re thinking about going be sure to do your homework, if you get it good you’ll understand why it’s worth the risk. Read Surfer Magazines Travel Report surf maps to start your journey today.


South Africa has 2700 miles of coastline and ranks as one of the top three surf nations in the world. An abundance of SW swells are generated by Antarctic storms passing eastwards to the south of the country. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, seasons are reversed. Best time to come is April-August, although there is plenty of surf year-round. Size of swell increases after March and decreases after September. Even during the presence of high-pressure systems when onshores do blow in winter, early mornings can have offshore breezes that normally last until about 10 AM. Summer months have notably more high-pressure systems in the weather cycle producing cyclonic north swells, often creating good waves over beach break sandbars between Durban and East London. East of Jefferies Bay a springsuit is needed in winters, vests insummers. West of J-Bay a full suit and booties are required most of the year. Around Durban, springsuits for winter, vests in summer. Antarctic storms travelvery fast and quick changes in the coastal weather and surf conditions arecommon. A weekly cycle is quite typical during winters with summers more stagnant. The continental shelf is narrowest north of East London and off Durban. A gradual widening to the west of Port Elizabeth makes the swells thinner but more lined up with less longshore drift. The shelf is narrow again SW of CapeTown and widens to the north along the west coast.


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The best time for surf is the Southern Hemisphere winter, June and July with surf at St. Leu 6′ more than half the time. Cold fronts to the SE of South Africa produce the swells that sweep toward Reunion after being cleaned up by the South Indian Ocean anti cyclone. The ocean floor drops off quickly meaning larger, faster waves. Unfortunately, only about19 miles of the 128 miles of coastline provide nice sandy beaches. Most of the coastline is steep cliff dropping directly into the ocean in front of the incoming swells. The east coast picks up most of the swell but is usually onshore from the prevailing trades. The south coast gets swell but is mostly steep cliff. The West Coast has the best reef breaks and offshore prevailing wind, but it is the least consistent side. If you arrive during summer (January), St.Pierre is the main surf spot. Even the best surf spots are usually uncrowded withgood vibes. Boardsailing is developing rapidly with easy conditions for beginners in the lagoons and the open sea for the advanced. Sharks are a common fear and those spots having the most frequent sightings are indicated among the “Surf Spot” section. Barracuda have also been seen.