Surfing with the Great Whites

Surfing with the Great Whites

Beach Essentials

Where: Around Durban, South Africa’s east coast 
When: 
July for festivals and winter surfing action, year round for good vibrations
Happenings: 
Diving with Great White Sharks, but more importantly Surf! Surf! Surf!
Remember to Bring: 
Your own board and the Factor 30

There are some fantastic beaches in South Africa for surfing and numerous other water sports.Durban and surrounding KwaZulu-Natal have a renowned surfing culture, here you can meet surfing heroes such as Shaun Tomson and Shane Thorne who are locals, as well as up and coming names like Frankie Oberholzer.

When To Go

Durban’s subtropical climate means its warm and suitable for surfing all year round. In the winter temperatures are between 16ºC and 25ºC but during the summer months they can reach 32ºC. The best time for surfing in Durban is when the sou’wester blows.

North Beach hosts the Gunston 500 in July. This is an event which is part of the Ocean Africa Festival that includes practically every beach activity imaginable. There is night surfing, beer tents, music, beauty contests and fashion shows. Needless to say this is a popular event with huge crowds.

Where To Go Surfing

South Beach and Addington are best for beginners, whilst North Beach, Bay of Plenty andSnake Park have perfect breaks for the more experienced surfer.

The best surfing beaches north of Durban are Balito Bay, Tekweni and Zinkwazi. Although you have to travel a bit further, the breaks are less crowded. The Bluff, south of Durban, is one of the countries most famous spots. The infamous Cave Rock is a Mecca for experienced surfers that is often compared to Hawaii’s Backdoor. However, south of the Bluff holds some real gems. The best time for surfing around here is winter when you are guaranteed a Northwest land breeze. Groundswells hit Scottsburgh, Greenpoint and The Spot at a perfect angle. All are right-handers and produce four to eight foot grinders. Make sure to always check the currents and also with the locals before embarking out into the swells.

Other Things to Do

Another extreme sport that has taken off in the last decade in South Africa is cage diving withGreat White Sharks – a constant threat off the coast. One of the most popular areas to do this is at Shark Alley. This is located between the fishing village of Gansbaai and Dyer Island towards the west coast.

Naturally you will need to be a qualified diver to view sharks from the cage. The cages generally hold two people and are incredibly safe. To date there have been no fatalities from this sport in South Africa. This is an awe inspiring experience which any diver will never forget. Rates generally start at approximately $130 US for one day all in. It also includes a lesson on the Great White and a talk on conservation designed to expel myths of the Great White.

More Information

Wavescape: Surfing in South Africa
A brilliant surfing guide for the whole of South Africa, which is divided into regions. Has a good travel section for people planning to visit South Africa. Most importantly it has a regularly updated surf report.

By Jess Halliday

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