Surfing in South Africa
South Africa is one of the most famous surf destinations in the world. With over 1,600 miles/2,500 kilometers of coastline, two oceans (Atlantic and Indian) and a huge amount of world class waves the country is spoiled in terms of surf quality. Being the most southern territory in the continent puts South Africa in the route of the roaring 40s which means that the country is one of the most consistent surfing areas in the world. During the winter the waves can get as big as any other part of the globe so be prepared and don’t forget to pack your guns if you are a big wave rider. Besides surfing, South Africa has many natural reserves where you can see the biggest land animals in the world, lots of beautiful beaches and very nice people that will treat you wonderfully (at least outside the water). If you have never been to South Africa you should include it on your bucket list and if you have already been then you are probably planning to come back.
Climate in South Africa
South Africa has a very unique climate determined by its location between two oceans, the Atlantic and Indian. Most of the country has a semi-arid climate but the east coast has a subtropical climate influenced by the Indian Ocean. South Africa offers great waves throughout the entire year but the best time to surf is during the months of June and July. This is when the big winter swells from the south indian ocean approaches the African coast. The average water temperature is around 15°C because of the cold currents so don’t forget to bring your best wetsuit.
Best surf spots in South Africa
South Africa has all kinds of waves for all kinds of surfers. No matter what level you are or how big you like to go you will find the wave of your dreams here. Whenever you plan to visit the country make sure you visit all the famous surf spots such as Cape Town, Garden Route, J-Bay, Durban, etc. South Africa is famous for the long perfect right-handers but you can also find some high quality lefts as well. Besides the well known breaks you should also consider renting a 4x4 and explore the unbeaten path. South Africa has so many surf spots it will take a long time to surf them all, if you can, plan an extra long visit to this wonderful country.
Meal price range
Simple meals in cheaper areas cost around $2-4 USD. Midrange meals in restaurants range from $6-10 USD. Dining & drinking at high-end restaurants can cost anywhere from $20-50 USD.
Board rentals run anywhere from $4.50 USD for 1.5 hours to $16 USD for the day. You’ll need a wetsuit during all seasons, you can usually rent one for $3-10 USD depending on the duration needed.
Prepaid SIM cards
SIM cards are easy to find and inexpensive. Popular providers are Vodacom and MTN, if you’re also planning to visit Swaziland, MTN is recommended. SIM cards can be purchased at the many official stores dotted around and all of the international airports (although buying at the airport is more expensive). Packages are around $11 USD for 1GB to $14 USD for 2GB.
Public transportation is available in larger cities but not reliable so not recommended. Uber operates in the big cities to help you get around. You can rent a small car from $14-21 USD a day. If you are planning on traveling between cities you can opt for Greyhound or Baz Buses, tickets cost anywhere from $2-38 USD depending on the distance.
$0.90 USD a liter.
Types of risks
Sea-life is abundant as well as sharks, however many of the main beaches are netted but attacks do happen. The water is cold all year round. Around 60 beaches in South Africa are patrolled by lifeguards. There is a flag system on main beaches for both conditions and shark spotting. Educate yourself on the flag meanings before you go out and remember if there is no flag, there is no one on duty.
South Africa suffers from prolonged droughts, sometimes fatal flash floods, as well as earthquakes.
How to prepare
Nationals from 52 countries/territories are not required to obtain South African visas for visits of up to 90 days, including the US, many European countries and Brazil. All visitors must hold a passport valid for 1 month after departure. There is an e-Visa system for anyone that needs to obtain a visa.
Although it's not mandatory, it’s recommended that you have been vaccinated for hepatitis A & B, yellow fever, typhoid, rabies, meningitis, polio, Tdap, chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia, influenza, measles, mumps and rubella. You may be asked to show proof of your yellow fever vaccination if you come from a country with a risk of yellow fever.
Things to know
Language & Currency
There are 11 official languages in South Africa, one of which is English. Although, Zulu is the most common. English is widely used as a second language by most and used throughout the cities.
Best time to go
April and May are the most pleasant months to visit South Africa, with March to September being the best time for surf.
Checking Surf forecast
Checking the forecast about a week before your trip is always a good idea. Understanding what the waves will be like and knowing what gear to pack is essential. You can check the forecast for the waves here.
Do I need pack a pharmacy kit
You should bring a basic kit. Including ear drops, eye drops, bandaids, imodium- for rehydrating, ear plugs to avoid ear infections, gaze, alcohol, mosquito repellent and broad spectrum antibiotic ointment.
World Nomads has great travel insurance packages that are not super expensive and they cover surfing.
10111 can be dialed from anywhere in South Africa for any emergency that requires police response. 10177 should be used for medical emergencies, including the need for an ambulance.
Check surf pictures of South Africa at #surfingsouthafrica.