Surfing Cape Town | A Guide to South Africa’s Best Spots

Surfing Cape Town as a beginner is great if you know where to go. Share a wave with locals or watch the big waves of Dungeons! Cape Town’s surfing scene and variety of waves make it South Africa’s #1 surf spot. You will find a wave whether you are a skilled rider on a trip surfing South Africa or just beginning to learn to ride waves.

Are you one of the many talented surfer’s catching Cape Town’s world-class waves? Are you looking to get affordable lessons and rentals?

We cover when to go, what to look for and what to ride below in our guide to surfing Cape Town.

Cape Town Surfing Beginner

First we will talk about the oldest and most welcoming wave to surf in South Africa. Here you will experience a collection of local and international surfboards and brands. Helping to make Cape Town South Africa’s #1 surfing city.

Surfers Corner – Muizenbergaerial-view-of-muizenberg-surfing-beach-in-cape-town

Muizenberg is the most popular surf spot in the city. It’s easily accessible and featured on our list of the best beaches in cape town. It even achieved a Guinness world record with 110 people on one wave in 2009.

As a beginner, we recommend you rent your board and wetsuit, and even hire a coach. You can save making mistakes and benefit from a surf lesson for your first time in the water. Did we mention it is affordable, too?

There are 5 shops located on the beachfront who offer surf lessons, as well as great restaurants to refuel and relax at after your surf. A group lesson will cost $30 and private lessons $50.

Learning to surf in Muizenberg is a beautiful experience with soft breaking waves often in uniform lines. Visit early in the morning for a surf while the sun rises over the Hottentot-Hollands Mountains in the East.

surfboard-single-fin-traditional-longboardTry riding a board longer than 8 feet. A longer board makes it easier to catch a smaller wave. Traditional longboards are seeing a revival in Cape Town and usually have a single fin.

During your visit, you will feel at home in the water amongst friendly surfers and sea creatures. The water temperature on a surf report can reach upwards of 18° celsius in False bay. With the green flag up we can thank the Shark Spotters that the locals feel at ‘home’ in the cold water.

Don’t be too surprised when surfing in South Africa and a young longboarder rides past you while hanging ten toes over the nose on a 2-foot wave. Watching talented surfers closely can improve your surfing!

When to go:

All year round – It is one of the best beaches to learn to surf for this reason.

What to look for:

North-westerly wind and a south-south-westerly or south-easterly swell.

What to ride:

Rent a soft board for your first surf – your body will thank you!

Intermediate surf in Cape Town:

Heading away from Table Mountain helps put the 3000ft tall giant into perspective. Surfers who have hiked to the top can look across the water proudly.

Milnerton – Doodles – Big Bay – Melkbosstrandsurfer-on-beach-below-table-mountain-cape-town

You are going to want to get properly suited up. Surfing in Cape Town’s cold water from Milnerton to Melkbos requires thick skin and a well made 4mm wetsuit.

The Atlantic ocean with a strong offshore wind makes wearing booties and a hoodie necessary. You want to survive the beautiful experience and live to tell the tale!

Buying a wetsuit, booties and hoodie can feel like ‘extra-baggage’ when you are packing your bags. The best surf brands are available in Cape Town both online from Pollywog and in stores from Lifestyle Surf Shop in Muizenberg, KISS store in Cape Town City or the Atlantic Surf store in Bloubergstrand.

Check Milnerton first. It is closest to the city and usually the smaller of the beach breaks along this coast. If the waves are not working here you can continue north up the coast until you find a wave or reach Melkbos. After Melkbos the road travels inland and there is limited access to the beach through various Nature reserves.

dolphins-swimming-camps-bay-beachThe beach breaks are best when a light offshore wind and a rising tide align. You can plan your night out once you have checked the surf report. You don’t want to miss the best wave of the day!

The waves here will favour a shorter board to allow quick transitions between your turns. A great time to practice standing up on steeper waves and cutting back into the pocket.

When to go:

Winter has the best waves – summer waves are still fun!

What to look for:

Easterly wind and a south-westerly swell

What to ride:

A shorter board between 5ft and 7ft for steep waves.

Surfing in Cape Town for Skilled Riders:

These 4 world-class waves have featured in surfing films shot in South Africa for the past 50 years! Before visiting Cape Town you can enjoy watching Californian Filmmaker Bruce Brown’s “The Endless Summer II”.

Llandudno – Noordhoek – Horse-trails – Kommetjiesurfers-at-sunset-llandudno-cape-town

Of these four spots, the barrelling waves of Llandudno are the closest to the city centre (10 miles). Then, like the surfers in Bruce’s film, you can travel along the scenic Chapman’s peak drive to reach Noordhoek. It is home to Cape Town’s best surf break!

Noordhoek has a wedging wave called ‘Hoek’ and barreling peaks shifting down the long beach. It is a strong wave which demands respect when larger than 3ft. Our favourite South African surfing big waves is Matt Bromley. He happily shares his home break and even offers lessons online for eager big wave surfers. This is not for the faint of heart!

Dungeons, the surf spot with big waves, has a friendlier neighbour called Sunsets. Both spots only work on large swells. If the focus of your trip is to surf big waves we recommend surfing alongside people with experience. Surf big waves while staying safe! You can contact local surfers on the surfing in the south Facebook group.

colourful-sunset-of-slangkop-lighthouse-kommetjie-cape-townKommetjie is a small suburb and has raised some of Cape Town’s best surfers. Paddle out here and you can share a wave with arguably the most stylish Cape surfer, Mikey February. He grew up surfing Kommetjie so we believe spending time here can only be good for your surfing.

Looking for more surf photos of Cape Town? Sign up for a subscription with South Africa Surfing magazine Zigzag!

When to go:

Winter is big! See this wave in September 2020 – summer can barrel too.

What to look for:

Easterly wind and a south-westerly swell

What to ride:

You are the pro! You can decide… Just make sure it is strong enough.

Visit Cape Town in South Africa to surf.

You have a good idea of where to go, when to visit and what board to ride when you visit this incredible surfing city. Winter has the biggest waves, but there are great waves all year round.

In Cape Town, South Africa, surfing is a way of life. The best times will be those spent in the water with friends. So if you are travelling with someone who doesn’t surf, teach them to surf! If you are a solo traveller, you can meet surfers at the one place we are certain they hang out… in the water!

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