Surfers’ Corner ✪ ✪ ✪
Old-school surf spot in Muizenberg where woodies used to fill the car park and the 10- to 12-foot elephant guns were unsheathed. Today, it’s the hub of the Cape Town surf scene. Not a powerful break by the unrelenting standards of the reefs on the western side of the peninsula, but a great hotdog wave. There are lots of peaks, if you can call them that, particularly in front of the car park. It’s offshore in northeast to northwest. On a three- to four-foot south groundswell, the outside breaks, and the wave reforms again on the inside. Malibu boards are just right here because they give you enough momentum to make it all the way through. Alternatively, you can pump your six-foot-two board up and down like a jack-in-the-box. When big, entails an arduous paddle through acres of white water to reach the backline.
Bailey’s Reef ✪ ✪
This is usually a short, hollow right-hand reef in front of Bailey’s Cottage. Best in a northwest wind, clean four- to five-foot groundswell and spring-high tide.
Danger Reef ✪ ✪ ✪
A left and right peak on a rocky ledge. A deceptively powerful wave that breaks off a shallow rock shelf. Best on a southeast swell and a light northwest wind. Gets intense, with a thick lip that sucks over a tight, bodyboard-friendly tube.
St James ✪ ✪ ✪
Right-hand ledging right reef break off the tidal pool near the colourful bathing boxes. Can be quite a heavy three- to four-foot wave that seems like it will close out, but holds for a few lip bashes before it hits almost dry rock.
Kalk Bay Reef ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪
World-class but intensely localised left-hand reef. Not that the locals are to blame. The take-off zone is the size of a pizza. When good, this insanely hollow left resembles Pipeline. Many a hottie has cut his barrel-riding teeth here. A curious quirk is that the southeast onshore is channelled offshore by mountains behind the break.
North of Muizenberg
Cemetery ✪ ✪ ✪
Another beach break like Corner, with more juice. Best in light northwest winds. There are a few peaks to choose from: lefts and rights. Expect the swell to be at least one to two foot bigger and slightly hollower than Muizenberg Corner.
Nine Miles Reef ✪ ✪ ✪
Further along the coast road North is Nine Miles Reef. Fun lefts and rights.
Dias Beach ✪ ✪ ✪
Bodyboarders speak in awe of the day Mike Stewart blew the place apart. It was mostly regarded as a non-spot until the late nineties. Just around the corner from the sheer cliffs of Cape Point, it’s an imposing venue. Entails a steep walk up and down. There’s not much beach, mostly rock, cliffs and a crunchy right-hander that closes out a lot. Best suited for bodyboarders, but ridden by stand-ups too.
Scarborough ✪ ✪ ✪
The ledge in front of the car park is best in three- to five-foot west swell on clean, glassy days. Gets good when right-handers hit the rock, and reel across the sandbar. A peak in the middle of the beach breaks in two to four foot, and sometimes connects with the shore break. The most consistent wave is the small right-hander in the far corner at the base of the point. Reforming lefts become rights as they bend down the point and swing wide, hitting a sandbar and breaking into a channel that runs up the point. The rip keeps the sand on the sandbar. Waves have perfect form here. Best at two to four foot, not much bigger.
Misty Cliffs ✪ ✪
Further down lies a fickle spot that only works when the swell is clean, usually when other spots are too small. Sandbar-dependent.
This spot is everything Crayfish Factory is not, even though it’s only a few hundred metres away. Featuring boring and shifty sand-bottomed peaks, with rips and channels, Witsands is the last resort. A sandbar appears from time to time called Barclays Bank.
Crayfish Factory ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪
Scary big-wave right-hander that pitches on to an outside reef, then sucks for 100 metres across an inside ledge, before bending into a channel. The factory is one of Cape Town’s heaviest, but most exhilarating waves. During big west swell, the Kom can be eight foot, but the Factory flat. During a 10- to 15-foot southwest to south swell, this regal right-hander is a walling, sucking, spitting glass monster that heaves tons of liquidised innards onto a jagged, boiling ledge. Most surfers have a tale of terror and anguish here: bone dislocation, bust boards, gashes and star-spangled visions of speckled death by drowning. If you get pounded on take-off, you can get pegged down deep in a dark, roiling tomb, the distant roar of 12-foot monsters overhead. When you surface, spat into the channel like a foul piece of human detritus coughed up by a sea monster, expect to be floating without a board, dazed and confused. But don’t dally. Shift back into survival mode. Swim towards the inside like a mutant salmon up a waterfall. You don’t want the rip to suck you towards Misty Cliffs.
I&J’s ✪ ✪
A reform wave on an inside reef in the Soetwater Reserve. Looks fun in glassy conditions and clean west swell.
Outer Kom ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪
Left-hand point. Thick peaks break on an outer reef, before running onto the inside ledge. On a big day, getting caught inside can set you back a good 15 minutes as you get pummelled in the impact zone. Best in clean six-to ten-foot west swell and any light east wind.
Long Beach ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪
Facing Chapman’s Peak on a promontory at the south end of Noordhoek Beach, an established learning ground teeming with surf rats. Because this spot faces almost due north, the southwest wind is offshore here, making it one of the few spots that can handle this wind. The downside is that the swell has to bend from the exposed west side of the coast, almost doing a U-turn to reach this north-facing break. The refraction focuses clean lines towards the beach that result in left-breaking peaks that run for at least 40-60 metres before ending in a shore break close-out.
Crons ✪ ✪ ✪
A shore break at Long Beach popular among bodyboarders due to the sucking barrel. Fast and hollow. Often dumps a long close-out section on to a boiling sandbar. Also known as: Krons, Krans, Kraans and “That Evil Right Hander at Long Beach”
Sunset ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪
Out to sea lies a deep-water bombora reef like its namesake in Hawaii. A huge right peak with jaw-dropping take-offs. Backdoor it and a cathedral dome arches on high as your tiny earthly shape passes through sun-glinted Pearly Gates. Wipe out and the heavenly light recedes as you somersault into the roiling madness of Hades. A giant tapered shoulder expends itself on the ledge, then fades into a deep channel. On the other side of the peak, a sharp drop-off in bathymetric contour nullifies the left. The local crew surf here on fun 15- to 20-foot days, and in ‘small’ 10- to 12-foot conditions. While it doesn’t offer the top-to-bottom, sectioning castle walls of Dungeons, the immense power of this pea-green A-frame has its own romantic attraction. Tow surfing is popular at Sunset.
The Hoek ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪
An archetypal Cape Town A-frame peak that barrels over a shallow sandbar in crisp, clean water and a majestic setting. An offshore reef focuses the swell into the corner of a small boulder-strewn bay at the base of the cliffs below Chapman’s Peak. At best, a world-class tube – short, round and perfect. The lip sucks top to bottom; throws fast and hard. Protected, slightly, from the offshore southeaster, the Hoek works on a low tide and copes best with a medium-energy four- to six-foot west swell.
Dungeons ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪
Made famous by Red Bull Big Wave Africa, this big right-hander is seldom ridden by paddle surfers outside the event, but tow surfers ride it frequently. Just off the Sentinel off Hout Bay, Dungeons starts breaking from eight to ten foot. Best in light winds and a thumping 20-foot west swell. Best on the low tide, otherwise it gets too thick (too much water). Beyond 20 foot, the tide is less significant. One session on 30 July 2006 saw tow surfers tackle monstrous 60-foot faces – the biggest waves ridden in Africa at the time.