Facts about Surfing in South Africa
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Boasting 3,000 km of the coastline and surrounded by ocean on three sides, South Africa is one of the prime surfing destinations in the world.
The superb waves come in combination with ideal climate and beautiful coastal scenery, the huge coastline offering a massive variety of breaks to suit novices as well as surf junkies. We’ve got a long history of riding the waves and thousands of passionate surfers; if you’re not one of them yet, why not use these summer days to hop on the board for the very first time and see if you get hooked like so many before you.
Invented by Polynesians, Embraced by the World
Apparently the Polynesians were the first to ride waves using a board. This activity was initially observed during the first voyage of James Cook, when the HMS Endeavour made a stop in Tahiti. Surfing was not only an important part of the ancient Polynesian culture, but also linked to social standing. The chief had the privilege of using the best board which was, obviously, made out of wood, and members of the ruling class had dibs on the best beaches.
North America was introduced to the art of surfing in 1907, which is when a Hawaiian surfer was brought to California to demonstrate wave riding as part of the promotional activities for the opening of the Los Angeles-Redondo-Huntington railroad. About the same time, a guy name Tommy Walker came back to his home town Sydney with a surf board he bought in Hawaii, offering demonstrations and exposing his fellow Aussies to this exciting sport. Hawaii, Australia and California were the three main locations where the development of surfing culture took place. In South Africa, surfing started as a sport in 1940s in Durban, and in 1965 the South African Surfing Association was founded. From then on, the country has hosted a number of surfing competitions, starting with the Gunston 500 which took place in Durban in 1969, and followed by the ISA World Championships held at Nahoon Reef in East London in 1978, the Billabong Pro contests in Jeffreys Bay, and the Quiksilver ISA World Surfing Games.
Where are some of South Africa's top surfing spots?
South Africa has been blessed by a number of top surf spots. Eland’s Bay, affectionately called E-bay, is about 3-hour drive away from Cape Town. This is where surfers from around the world flock every year for a dose of adrenaline rush offered by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. While it may not be the best choice for newbies, experienced wave chasers will get to show off their skills, performing speed runs, critical turns, and a variety of other advanced surfing manoeuvres. Dungeons is another spot which is not welcoming to the first-timers nor the faint-hearted. Ranked within the world famous Big Wave spots, this challenging surfing destination situated on the Cape Peninsula supposedly got its name after a surfer has been imprisoned by two consecutive 7-meter waves.
It seems the best locations are always given an affectionate nickname, and the same is true for Cape PeninsulaJeffreys Bay, or J-Bay. Situated less than an hour away from Port Elizabeth, J-Bay is yet another world-renowned surfing destination where the annual World Surf League event takes place every year. Curiously enough, it was discovered completely by accident, after the nearby St. Francis Bay, was made famous through a 1960's surf movie called The Endless Summer. Durban is one of the surfing spots which are equally inviting to complete beginners as well as seasoned enthusiasts. Here you’ll get to enjoy the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, good wind conditions, and a variety of reef, point and beach breaks. Then take a nice break to explore the city which boasts a spot among the 'New 7 Wonders Cities'. Another great place to learn is Muizenberg, situated on the Cape Town coast. Muizies is known for the longest break in the Cape Peninsula, allowing you to ride the waves for 1.5 km. The choice is practically endless; all you need to do is say “yes”.
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