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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

From the Cape Town harbour breakwater that juts northeast from Granger Bay, the coast heads in a westerly direction towards Mouille Point before heading southwest along busy Sea Point. As the coast turns south at Lion’s Head, moving past the upmarket suburbs of Clifton, Camps Bay and Bakoven, it becomes more exposed to the dominant southwest ocean swell, although Sandy Bay, a nudist beach at the end of this section, is sheltered by the Karbonkelberg.


MOUILLE POINT TO SANDY BAY

Thermopylae

A rare point break in Cape Town, this north-facing left-hander needs a huge southwest or west swell. Can be long lulls, unless a really big west swell is running. You take off over the sunken remains of the Thermopylae that wrecked off Mouille Point in 1899. The wave bends around a rock shelf, and ends in front of the luxury Radisson Hotel. The take-off can be hairy, depending on swell size and tide. There have been E-coli issues in the past, due to nearby sewerage outlets.


Off The Wall

The take-off zone of this urban reef break is the size of a mini. Surfers sit on top of each other waiting for a short, sharp take-off and a barrelling green wall that often closes out. Breaking off the promenade wall of Mouille Point, adjacent to Sea Point, has similarities with its counterpart in Hawaii. Insanely hollow and hard-breaking at times.


Rocklands

A gnarly left reef on the Sea Point side of Off the Wall, best in glassy seas or southeast winds, a large southwest swell and a pushing high tide. Breaks when other Sea Point spots are too small. The waves wrap around the rocks and freight train onto a rocky ledge, where it stands up and says, ‘Smack me or die’.


Milton Pool Left

Hectic, fast-breaking left that needs big west swell and clean, glassy seas. It zips along, top-to-bottom, without tapering. Gets epic in the right swell. Usually not a wave.


Solly’s

Short reef breaks left and right, depending on swell. Likes clean four- to six-foot west swell and light to moderate southeast to east winds. Fresh southeast winds elsewhere can be totally absent in Sea Point. The spot is near The Pavilion. The outer reef (Solly’s Outer) works on big swell. Can be good.


Boat Bay

When the swell is too small for Off the Wall, this fun right-hander is worth a look. Runs along a rock spit next to the wall of the public swimming pool at The Pavilion. Clean two- to four-foot west swell and light southeast to east winds.


Queens

This knobbly left-hand reef in front of the President Hotel is the last wave in Sea Point going south. Scattered outside reefs cause the swell to focus unevenly on to a shallow slab, resulting in a big, fat, hairy take-off before it runs into a wide-swinging shoulder. Big and mushy and fun, with free-fall take-offs and crunching close-outs. Likes solid four- to eight-foot southwest swell, high tide and glassy seas. Does not like too much wind or swell – picks up more swell than other Sea Point breaks. Beware the rocks at the end.


Gasworks

Heavy bombora reef in the middle of Bantry Bay. When the swell is huge, clean and westerly, you need a rhino chaser to snag this top-to-bottom barrel. Breaks in deep, dark water and grinds towards a large exposed rock. Gasworks looks like a right-hand point break in huge swell. Not for wussies.


Moses Beach

Beneath the cliffs on the Sea Point side of Clifton, this fickle spot last worked in 1652 when Jan van Riebeek pulled into a few barrels.


Clifton First Beach

There are waves at three of the four major Clifton beaches, but sandbars are fickle. First Beach can get a right-hand sand point with rare days of perfection. You need late winter storms to excavate the sand. In summer, the southeast and longitudinal drift resets the beach to its default setting: evenly distributed sand and shore break closeouts.


Cherry Rock

This small, round rock off Second Beach gets good at times, but not often.


Clifton Third Beach

Fickle sandbar between Second and Third Beach. In past years, surfed regularly, but sporadic. Fourth Beach never has waves. Watch out for the greater blinged Kugel, a preening sea bird species with sharp claws.


Glen Beach

Hollow right-hander along a sandbar off rocks tucked in the corner of Camps Bay. Many of Cape Town’s best surfers were, or are, locals here. A short ride, but yields superlative form in right conditions. Best in three- to five-foot west swell. Quite sheltered from the southeast gales howling down from the Twelve Apostles. Handles mild northwest wind.


Camps Bay

Like Clifton, needs a rare confluence of sand, wind and swell to create good waves. Best in front of Blues Restaurant to the right of the rocks.


Barley Bay

Right-hander that needs solid 10 foot, and very west swell. Imposing big-wave spot surfed by a few die-hards. Closes out from 15 foot.


Bakoven

Very rarely, on a super-high tide and big west swell, you can ride the outside reef.


The Bluff Left

As you leave Bakoven towards Oudekraal, at the end of a line of milkwood trees, there is a short, sharp left-hander off the corner of a reef where a fishing boat – the Bluff – sank. Not popular but can break with great form in clean west swell. Sheltered from the southeast.


Cannonball Reef

At the end of the straight where hawkers sell curios lies a clump of round white boulders like cannonballs. A fickle right-hander breaks along the rocks. Mostly used as an indicator when you’re on a surf mission to the south. Sheltered from the southeaster, the barrel looks airbrushed it breaks so perfectly – a harbinger of good waves ahead.


Llandudno

This wave is superlative … or crap. The Gat (English slang for gun) is a sucking right-hand wedge near big granite boulders. When it fires, the barrel spit realises the ballistic metaphor. A sandbar closer to the middle yields hollow rights and occasional lefts. Gets crowded. The water in summer goes down to 10 °C after heavy upwelling from prolonged southeast gales pulls deep water to the surface. Kiff to thaw in the hot sun! Gets epic between spring and autumn. In winter, storms tend to dig big trenches in the sand.


Sections

A small right-hander that peels past a granite boulder into a small bay. Sometimes called Mac’s Spot. Ironically, two unrelated Macs live near it. The older Mac has a house above the younger Mac. Two reasons to call it Mac’s Spot.


Sandy Bay

When Llandudno is closing out (at eight-foot-plus) and the wind is fresh southeast, Sandy Bay can be a good call. This nudist colony in the next bay is a short wave, often little more than a tubing shore break although perfect sandbanks can develop further out. It handles the southeaster, and copes with light to moderate south. Popular with bodyboarders. When it fires, the barrel spit realises the ballistic metaphor.

 

{mosimage} SWELL LINES: A good day at Llandudno.

{mosimage} MAGIC CARPET RIDE: Sacha Specker streaks skyward.

{mosimage} WIND WARBLE: The late-afternoon sun glints through another pearler.

{mosimage} Mutant wave

{mosimage} Llandudno sunset

{mosimage} Off The Wall

{mosimage} CAPE RIVIERA: All four beaches at Clifton.

Comments  

 
Bodysurfer
0 #2 Bodysurfer 2009-12-15 18:29
Hey Gabriel, found it right here on Wavescape. Shot bru. Robin
 
 
Bodysurfer
0 #1 Bodysurfer 2009-12-15 18:27
Would I just love to stick a photo of "Off The Wall" mentioned above. Then you will understand what the writer means when he says, "insanely hollow"! Spent a terrifying 45 minutes in that on the 5m SW swell in Sept.
 

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