My Favourite Surf Spots in South Africa

My Favourite Surf Spots in South Africa

The South African coast is blessed with extraordinarily beautiful beaches.  It’s no wonder that the South African equivalent of the American dream is to own a beach house.  The absolute beauty of the coast is also the reason why South Africa has such a flourishing beach culture.  Luckily, beautiful beaches aren’t the coast’s only assets, it also boasts some of the world’s gnarliest waves.

This list wasn’t compiled to show off the best or the most extreme surf spots in South Africa.  Rather, it’s comprised of all the places I’ve surfed that I found to be most inspiring to me.  Places where you don’t just find great surf, but also mellow vibes, good people and beautiful landscapes.  At the end of the day, surfing is more about experiencing nature and enjoying the ride than anything else.


Durban, the Golden Mile

Durban harbours some of my favourite surf spots in South Africa.  It’s not as beautiful as many other places on this list, but it does have fantastic beaches and a fair amount of charm.  I’m not a big fan of the city itself, but as far as cities go, Durban isn’t all that bad.  The city is also relatively central on the East Coast, which makes it an ideal base camp for a surfing safari.

Durban offers great variety with surf spots for surfers of every level.  It is also home to The Golden Mile.  A stretch of beach, just north of the harbour, that consists of a legion of surf spots separated by a series of piers.  The beach breaks along The Golden Mile are all fairly consistent and hold up pretty well, even in big swells.  One of the more popular spots is aptly named, The Bay of Plenty.  On a good day, you can be sure to die of exhaustion long before you run out of waves.

Durban’s warm water and subtropical climate are what makes it a surfer’s paradise.  Even in the winter, the water is warm enough to keep the stoke without a wetsuit.  Mid winter water temperatures range from 20-23 degrees Celsius.

The warm water and the sheer abundance of waves make Durban my favourite surfing destination.  It’s also where I surfed my first wave.


Umhlanga Light House

Just 17 km north of Durban’s beach break paradise, is the posh town of Umhlanga Rocks.  It is still one of the most desirable beach destinations in the country, even though its beaches have greatly deteriorated in recent years.  It’s a beautiful town that offers all the advantages of living in the big city, while still maintaining the feel of small town life.

In 2006, storms ravaged the coast and the sea washed away large amounts of sand from the beaches, exposing the rocks underneath.   The beaches shrunk to fractions of what they once were and after more than 10 years they have not yet recovered.  The loss of sand also had a huge impact on the quality of the surf spots.  The two beach breaks still produce decent waves from time to time, but they have become much more unpredictable.

It was on the beaches of Umhlanga that my love for the ocean was fostered.  This is where I learned to bodysurf and bodyboard, which ultimately progressed to surfing.  Umhlanga’s place on this list is the result of its sentimental value and elegance.


Ballito is a small town on the North Coast, about 60 km north of Durban.  The town has an overall chilled vibe and the locals are extremely easygoing.  Apart from surfing, there are also numerous other attractions in the area which make it an excellent holiday destination.

The town’s beaches offer some of the best surf spots in the country.  Consequently, Ballito is the host of the annual Ballito Pro presented by Billabong.  The event showcases some of the best surfers in the world and provides upcoming South African surfers with a chance to show their stuff.

I’ve surfed some decent waves at Ballito throughout the years and it’s definitely a worth while place for any surfer.

Buffels Bay

Favourite surf spots in SA, Featured

I only recently discovered this jewel during my honeymoon in the Western Cape.  We were driving along the Garden route, looking for a beach to spend the day, when we came across this small town.  Although, I don’t know if I can really call it a town.  It’s basically a collection of houses, a caravan park and a restaurant on the beach.

As far as I’m aware, Buffels Bay has three surf spots.  A shallow reef break in the bay, a point break and a break on the wild side of the bay.  The reef break produces decent lefts and the point break seems to spit out rights. I’m not sure about the third spot because there wasn’t much going on while we were there.

I’ve only been to Buffels Bay once, but it was more than enough to secure it a spot on my favourites’ list.  Between the laid-back vibes, the fun breaks and the natural beauty of the surrounding area, it’s hard not to fall in love with this place.

Plettenberg Bay

Plet is one of the biggest towns along the South Coast in the Western Cape.  It is located on the Garden Route between Mossel Bay and Jeffrey’s Bay.  The town is a very popular destination and gets really packed during the peak holiday season.

There are a number of great surf spots along the 4 km of beach.  Lookout Beach is my favourite.  In the right conditions, this spot produces awesome lefts.  On top of that, the backdrop you witness, while in the water, is spectacular.  When facing towards the vastness of the ocean, there’s a mountain range to your left-hand side that stretches as far as the eye can see.  It is a surf spot that envelops you with the beauty of nature while you enjoy one of nature’s greatest gifts.

I remember surfing Lookout Beach during a low-pressure system back in the summer of 2012.  It was an amazing day and the waves were on fire.  I only decided to make my way back to the beach after my arms finally gave in and I was no longer able to catch any waves.

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