South Africa Surfing Safari - Fauna Travel

South Africa Surfing Safari

Ante Hammersmit / Unsplash

12 Days

South Africa is best known for safaris, but it’s also one of the world’s best surfing destinations. It first came to the world’s attention from the classic surf film, The Endless Summer, where Robert August and Mike Hynson discovered the “perfect wave” at St. Francis Bay. Because South Africa sits at the convergence of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, there are a variety of breaks that peak at different times of the year. We’ve built this itinerary along the scenic garden route, but the surf peaks in July just before the flowers emerge in September. It includes nine days of surf exploration through the Western and Eastern Cape provinces and finishes with a few days to dry out on a world-class wildlife safari.

Alternatively, we can build a South Africa surfing itinerary around Durban and safaris in Kwa’Zulu Natal if you have less time to explore.

Your custom travel playlist includes music by Mahotella Queens
Dick Dale feels out of place in South Africa, but fortunately Johannesburg produced some jams in the 1970s that make a perfect soundtrack to your surf trip, including Wozani Mahipi by the Mahotella Queens.

Day 1-3: Cape Peninsula

Last Word Long Beach, Kommetjie

Arrive at Cape Town International Airport, where you will either pick up your car rental for a self drive trip or be met by a driver and taken to your hotel. About an hour south of central Cape Town on the Atlantic side of the peninsula is the small town of Kommetjie. Here you’ll find one of the most consistent shore breaks in the Cape on Long Beach, as well as one of our favorite beach hotels, Last Word Long Beach. It’s casually stylish rooms overlook an excellent break to warm up on.

Beach break in front of Last Word Long Beach / Courtesy of Last Word Hotels
Beach break in front of Last Word Long Beach / Courtesy of Last Word Hotels

The Cape Peninsula is a particularly good place to surf because if the wind is onshore on one coast, it is likely offshore on the other. On the other side of the Cape is Muizenberg, which is home to a popular beach called Surfer’s Corner, which has been dubbed a “long boarder’s paradise.” Here you can find a variety of surf shops and schools to gear up for your trip. The best beachfront hotel in the area is The Last Word Long Beach, which has a stunning view of the break from your bedroom.

Spend a couple of days enjoying the local breaks before starting your coastal surfing safari. If you have time we suggest spending a day in Cape Town proper for hiking and some of the best food in Africa.

Day 4-6: Surfing the Garden Route

The Plettenburg, Plettenburg Bay, South Africa

Wake up early to start your drive east along the coast. The Garden Route is perhaps best known for its floral tourists, but this stretch of coast also boasts a number of excellent surf breaks.

Pringle Bay, South Africa / Jayden Brand / Unsplash
Pringle Bay, South Africa / Jayden Brand / Unsplash

Spend the next few days on the road looking for the right swell. We particularly l like Stillbai for its consistent shore break and pod of dolphins that will sometimes join you for a ride. The steep Victoria Bay is also an excellent spot year-round, though you may experience a bit of localism when it’s really hitting.

Other breaks include Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay. Plettenburg Bay is about six hours from Muisenberg and has the only world class hotel on the waterfront in the area, The Plettenburg. You can use this as a home base for exploration, but there are also many small hotels and vacation rentals along this stretch of coast if you want to stay close to a particular break.

Day 7-9: Eastern Cape and JBay

Surf Lodge South Africa, Jeffreys Bay

Continue your drive east along the coast into the Eastern Cape Province and Jeffreys Bay, the pinnacle of South African surfing. The bay has some of the most consistent tubes on earth and hosts the annual JBay Open. If you can time your trip right, it’s a perfect spot to see the world’s best surfers in action.

Pro surfing event at J Bay / Sincerely Media / Unsplash
Pro surfing event at J Bay / Sincerely Media / Unsplash

Veteran surfers can test their skills here, or we can connect you with a local guide to avoid the worst of surf xenophobia. Another good option is the nearby Cape St. Francis, which has a number of good point and shore breaks to choose from. This is adjacent to St. Francis Bay of Endless Summer Fame, which rarely breaks, but rolls for miles when it does.

The beach villas at the Cape St. Francis Resort are tucked away in the dunes and one of the nicest places to stay on the beach in the area. Travelers looking for a larger hotel with more amenties can stay in nearby city of Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha).

Day 10-12: Eastern Cape Safari

Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Rhino crash at Shamwari / Courtesy of Shamwari Private Game Reserve
Rhino crash at Shamwari / Courtesy of Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Hopefully, you’re waterlogged and sore (in the best way) at this point in the trip and will appreciate drying off in a luxury safari lodge. Drive another hour east to the 62,000-acre Shamwari Private Game reserve, for some of the best wildlife viewing in South Africa. The Eastern Cape is less well known than Kruger National Park but offers a legitimate “Big 5” experience and a selection of luxury lodges to meet any taste. We particularly like the organic style of Eagles Crag or Sindile tented camp. More adventurous travelers will want to book a night or two at Explorer Camp for the walking safari experience.

Spend your last few nights in Africa encountering elephant, lion, rhino, and leopard on daily game drives before a relaxing afternoon drink by the pool.

Watch Kelly Slater on his visit to Shamwari while on tour.

Day 13: Departure

Return to Port Elizabeth for your flight back to Cape Town and onward to home.

Extension/Alternate: Kwa’Zulu Natal

Surfing Long Beach near Durban / Julie Machie / Wikimedia Commons
Surfing Long Beach near Durban / Julie Machie / Wikimedia Commons

Kwa’ Zulu Natal Province is on the Indian Ocean side of South Africa and has some of the most consistent surf breaks in the country. There are plenty of great surf spots, such as Green Point, New Pier, North Beach, Ballito, and all along the beach in the city of Durban. A visit here could be an extension of your trip or a standalone adventure. There are also excellent safari options in Kwa’Zulu Natal to end your trip.

Driving Map

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