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Cape Town Surf Spots

11 Epic Cape Town Surf Spots

Cape Town is a wonderland for many visitors around the world who travel from far and wide to visit “The Mother City” – and they rarely only visit just once. However, if you’re a surfer who’s here to visit some of the many Cape Town Surf Spots, you’re in for even more of a treat! We’re here to give you a run-down of some of our favourite surf spots in Cape Town and to give you important information relating to each spot to help you get the most out of your trip. We’ll also notify you about our own upcoming surf trip that we’re giving you the opportunity to join us on, but more about that later.

Let’s look at why Cape Town surf spots are so awesome.

Why Cape Town?

Cape Town Surf Spots

Just one look at the geographical location of Cape Town on the world map and any surfer can appreciate the many opportunities that exist here; with its countless points, rock formations and beaches, Cape Town caters for all weather conditions. Ninety-nine percent of the time sees the swell approaching from a SSE/WSW direction with the wind shifting mainly between NW and SE.

In the summer months, a strong SE wind blows from False Bay through to Cape Town and Blouberg. The SE wind is known as “The Cape Doctor” as people believed it cleares the air of bacteria and pollutants as it passes. This wind is formed as a result of a high-pressure system above the Atlantic Ocean and a low-pressure system above land and, due to a thermic and venturi effect, the wind is accelerated. Anyhow, if you are familiar with how The Cape Doctor works then it’s fairly easy to predict its behaviours.

During the winter months, NW winds prevail and bring with them cloudy weather, and perhaps some rain. Luckily, Cape Town is home to several surf spots that will serve you year-round although you will need an experienced guide to lead you to the most appropriate areas on any given day if you’re to get the most out of your time here. Not only that, the vast majority of surf spots in Cape Town are exceptional and incredibly beautiful. Localism is not really a big thing in Cape Town, but there are a few places that are very protected and there could arise some tension in the water. Of course, locals should always be treated with the utmost respect to maintain the good vibes in the water. It is for this reason we have excluded some of the local spots in this ‘Cape Town surf spots’ post.

11 Cape Town Surf Spots

As already mentioned, our surf camp designed for advanced and experts alike – Surf Camp Cape Town – is coming VERY soon! We are really excited for this adventure and we want to share with you some of the Cape Town surf spots we’ll be chasing on the trip.

Doodles/Pakalolo

Cape Town surf spots - DoodlesDoodles and Pakalolo are the names of two bars that are located at Blouberg Beach. Also known as “Kite Beach”, Blouberg beach is the closest surf spot to our accommodation on the surf camp and is packed with kiters during the summer due to favourable SSE/SE side-onshore winds.

As this spot is a classic beach break the banks shift often. But generally the banks at Pakalolo or Doodles are preferable. Doodles can become pretty crowded and is the preferred spot of the SUP community, but in general the level in the water is not high and you’ll get plenty of waves.

  • Swell size: Works from 1.5m to 3.5m forecast (when it is big it closes out and the paddle is a bitch)
  • Wave period: 14 seconds (ideally)
  • Swell direction: SW – W
  • Wind direction: N – ESE – Better with minimal wind in this direction
  • Wave type: Easy but pushy wave – not barrelling
  • Length of wave: 200m on good days. Lefts and right
  • Tide: All tides but pushing mid-tide is preferable

Derdesteen

Cape Town surf spots - DerdesteenDerdesteen is a short and powerful wave that can be likened to French beach breaks and is located ten minutes’ drive away from the Cape Town Surf Camp accommodation. Under the right conditions, Derdesteen provides barrelling waves and is our first choice of cape town surf spots when the west coast delivers favourable weather conditions.

Derdesteen is pretty sensitive to the changing directions of the wind so waves are often quite dynamic in nature. The peak is constantly shifting so there is no need to paddle back and forth as everybody gets their fair share of waves. This spot can get crowded at times, but there is always the option to paddle to the next peak.

  • Swell size: 1.5-4m
  • Wave period: The more the better (long waits when high period)
  • Swell direction: SW-W
  • Wind direction: NE-ESE
  • Wave type: Clean, barrelling waves – often a short shoulder
  • Length of wave: 50m – left and right
  • Tide: Mid-falling tide is best

Tip: When high tide, check Horsetrails 500m closer to the accommodation.

Gas chambers

Cape Town Surf Spots - Gas Chambers

Gas Chambers is a remote spot on the west coast that we generally consider a last resort. We only ever really surf here if every other spot is flat as Gas Chambers always has a nice little shore break. This wave is mostly surfed by body boarders but when the swell is small some nice lines can still be surfed. If the shore break is too much of a close-out then there are some spots at nearby Silverstroom that may have decent waves. The spot requires a walk of 20-30 minutes to get there, but most of the time the reward is great.

  • Swell size: 1-2m
  • Wave period: From 10-seconds
  • Swell direction: SW-W
  • Wind direction: N-SE
  • Wave type: Shore break, barrelling waves (dependent on the sand banks and the left and right waves on different banks)
  • Length of wave: 50 – 100m – left and right
  • Tide: Low – mid-pushing tide

Milnerton (Wang Thai/Lighthouse)

Surf Camp Cape Town - Milnerton

When we want clean, powerful, and often longer waves, Milnerton is the spot of choice providing the swell is big. Sandbank depending, we choose one of two sub-spots; Wang Thai at the river mouth, the Lighthouse or in between

Milnerton is one of only few spots on the west coast that can handle south winds and the rights here are usually faster and hollower than the lefts. Milnerton is also ideally located between Cape Town and our accommodation.

  • Swell size: 2.5-4.5m
  • Wave period: From 12-seconds – the more the merrier!
  • Swell direction: SW-W – West is preferable
  • Wind direction: S-ENE
  • Wave type: Powerful chocolate barrels – often long rides both left and right
  • Length of wave: 150m – left and right.
  • Tide: All tides – preferably low-mid tide

Thermopylae

Thermopylae is one of the few spots that is north-oriented (Long Beach being the only other exception). This orientation is a good option for SW wind since most swell in Cape Town comes from the south and the west which means the spot needs huge swell to work. When it does work, you’ll have a great time as the wave is long and runs over a rocky reef. The only potential downfall is that when it is good, this spot can get crowded as it is located in the middle of the city.

You may want to consider taking off at a lower point as there are some sections higher up that are difficult to go around if the conditions are less than perfect. As a general rule, you need to half the swell size to find the approximate wave size.

  • Swell size: 3.5-7m
  • Wave period: As long as possible – preferably 15+ seconds
  • Swell direction: WSW–W
  • Wind direction: SSE-SW (Relatively protected by the city)
  • Wave type: Long wave – (not really barrelling but can be powerful)
  • Length of wave: Up to 300m on good days – only lefts
  • Tide: High tide

Muizenberg

Cape Town Surf Spots - Muizenberg

Muizenberg is a surf town that arguably has the most authentic surf culture in South Africa besides Jeffrey’s Bay. It is located at the border between the mainland and the Cape Peninsula in the corner of False Bay which is aptly named due to the misconception that the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet at Cape Point. The two oceans actually meet at Cape Agulhas approximately 200km East from Cape point at the southernmost tip of Africa.

You can expect a lot of beginners here due to the easy surf which explains why Muizenberg has been booming in the past decade. As the bottom of the ocean drops off very slowly, the waves don’t break with a lot of power and they will break several times before hitting the shore. This wave is more suited to longboarders but may also serve shortboarders quite well when the swell is big and wave period is adequate.

Muizenberg is one of the few spots facing south – the further east you go, the more powerful the waves become but these areas can be dodgy for parking your car in.

  • Swell size: Any
  • Wave period: 8sec or more
  • Swell direction: SE-SW
  • Wind direction: W-NE
  • Wave quality: Mellow – even when it is big (Long distance to paddle out when the waves are big – prepare to duck dive a lot)
  • Length of wave: 150m+ on really good days
  • Tide: Works with any tide

Llandudno

Cape Town Surf Spot - Llandudno

Llandudno is one of the most beautiful surf spots you will ever surf in your life. It is surrounded by giant granite boulders and mountains, and the water is crystal clear which always presents a great opportunity for some water photography. The waves are best in the north corner of the beach where only a right hander breaks. This wave is quite possibly the best barrelling wave out of all the Cape Town surf spots.

You’ll have to be patient and wait your turn to get your waves here as Llandudno is in close proximity to the city and can get crowded. The level of the locals is pretty high and their attitude is generally OK, but you don’t want to piss off the wrong one so always keep an eye out for them.

Alternatively, if you want to get away from the crowds you can work your way down to the middle of the beach to catch some right or left waves. Although they aren’t always great, they can be useful for practicing dropping into steep waves.

  • Swell size: 1.5-3m
  • Swell direction: SW-W
  • Wind direction: ENE-SSE
  • Wave quality: Perfect barrelling and powerful wave
  • Length of wave: 100m – right wave
  • Tide: All tides

Long Beach

Cape Town surf spots - Longbeach

Long Beach is special. It is located in a small village of die-hard surfers named Kommetjie and the level of the kids here is simply astonishing. Long beach is mainly known for its clean and chill longboarding waves but many short boarders have a blast on this spot too as it can provide long rides when the swell is bigger.

This is one of the few waves that is north-oriented and so it can handle a vast array of weather conditions. Not many spots in Cape Town can handle a SW wind, but Longbeach does. You’ll need to have some swell size here if you’re to catch some decent waves since the north orientation of this spot means that the swell needs to wrap around to be adequate.

If you walk down the beach (NE) and surf “Krans”, the swell is greater and is more west-oriented. It is a hollow fast wave so it is perfect if you prefer more juicy waves than the long beach waves.

  • Swell size: 1.5-4m
  • Swell direction: SW-W
  • Wind direction: SW-SSE
  • Wave quality: Easy wave
  • Length of wave: 150m on good days – left and right (but left is generally better)
  • Tide: low-mid tide

Dunes

Cape Town Surf Spots - Dunes

Cape Town surf spots - Dunes barrel

Dunes is located between Noordhoek and long beach and is my all-time favourite wave in Cape Town. The scenery is beautiful (close to Chapman’s Peak) and it always seems like a bit of an adventure to get here since you can only access it by foot, beach bike or horse. This limited accessibility coupled with the fact that you have to walk for about half an hour to get to the best sand banks means that the crowds here are manageable – you’ll get your fair share of waves if you wait long enough. The level in the water is very good, and dropping in can be a hazard when people are getting proper barrels. So make proper decisions.

It’s a fast, hollow and powerful beach break and is not for the faint-hearted. It only really starts working when the swell has a decent size and when the SE wind is kicking in – the bigger the swell, the nicer the waves peal. Many surfers bring out a slightly bigger board (6’8) when it is big, and we’ve seen many guys in stand-up barrels on the really good days (we’ve also seen people getting hammered). If you get a wave right in dunes, you’ll be hooked forever.

  • Swell size: 2m-4.5m
  • Swell direction: SW-W
  • Wind direction: SE
  • Wave quality: Very powerful lefts and rights – good for barrels
  • Length of wave: 100m
  • Tide: Mid-high tide

Witsands/Mistycliffs

Witsands is another beautiful spot where the water is bluer than blue. In fact, the route from Witsands to Scarborough can, in my humble opinion, easily compete with the Chapman’s Peak drive between Hout Bay and Noordhoek. (Chapman’s Peak Drive is considered one of the most beautifully scenic routes in the world).

The waves here are very consistent as the spot is very exposed to the swell. If it is big then it is a good idea to surf in the corner of the bay – making your way to the misty cliffs is a better option when the swell is small. It’s worth noting that the weather at Witsands is generally cloudy or rainy since the wind approaches from the NW.

Oh, and it’s easy to misjudge the size of the waves as you’re looking down on them from 40m while you’re parking your car next to a cliff.

  • Swell size: 1-3m
  • Wave period: Works from 10-seconds
  • Swell direction: S-W
  • Wind direction: NW-NE
  • Wave quality: easy wave
  • Length of wave: 100m – left and right
  • Tide: All tides

Betty’s Bay

Cape Town Surf Spots - Betty's Bay

While Betty’s Bay may not fit quite as naturally into a Cape Town surf spots post as some of the other beaches on the list (it’s a 90-minute drive to the south coast of the continent), we thought we’d include it as it’s one of our favourite spots when it is good.

Betty’s Bay doesn’t work very often. It needs really big swell, preferably more south-oriented which is already a big difference from all other spots we’ve mentioned. The bay is very wide; the further east you surf, the nastier the waves get – the west is generally more protected and waves are lined up more beautifully. Betty’s Bay is usually windy due to the acceleration along the mountain flanks, but this place can handle strong winds such as these.

It’s fairly easy to paddle into the waves but when a wave breaks it has a lot of power which makes it a very good spot practicing tube riding and cutbacks. Generally speaking, the rights are longer, but the lefts can be pushy. When Betty’s Bay is working, you can expect a similar quality surf as Dunes.

  • Swell size: depending the swell direction you need bigger swell: 2.5m-6m
  • Wave period: 14-seconds or more is ideal
  • Swell direction: SE-SW
  • Wind direction: NW-NE
  • Wave quality: Nice consistent wave good for barrels and fun wave riding
  • Length of wave: 200m on good days – left and right
  • Tide: All tides – preferably pushing tide

Cape Town Surf Spots in Summary

Of course, there are many more Cape Town Surf Spots to explore in addition to the ones we’ve listed here. You can check them out on wannaSurf although their information is a contribution of many different people, so difficult to compare. You may still need a local guide to identify ‘when’ and ‘where’ if you’re to make the most of your trip.

As always, there is a lot of commotion in relation to sharks in Cape Town. Yes, Cape Town is a ‘sharky’ but so is California, Florida, Mexico, Hawaii, Brazil, and the whole of Australia etc. The more you know about sharks, the less you’ll fear them, … you might even start to like them. If you’d like to get up to date with the latest statistics on shark attacks and get an in-depth understanding of their behaviours, consider reading our extensive article on the topic – Staying Safe With Sharks.

And, by the way, most of the Cape Town surf spots mentioned here and many of the amazing spots we will be visiting on our upcoming Surf Camp Cape Town trip are shark chill. Sign up on this form to get more information about surfing in Cape Town.

Don’t forget you can share your adventure dream with us for a chance to live your trip of a lifetime to a destination of your choice for free!

We’d love to read your Cape Town surf spot experiences and recommendations in the comments section below.

Cape Town surf spots - Llandudno

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