Thinking about surfing in South Africa? Here’s a full roundup of all the spots I covered from Cape Town to Durban with the crew of Ticket to Ride – the most epic surf trip I’ve done to date!
Surfing in South Africa is a trip I’d highly recommend to anyone who loves waves.This rugged coast is peppered with world class waves like J’Bay and also lesser known spots like Coffee Bay.
I joined the crew of Ticket To Ride for their epic 10 week South Africa Surf Trip to discover more about surfing in South Africa, explore some of the awesome breaks this coastline has to offer and also get some expert coaching to improve my own skills in the water.
Surfing In South Africa – From Cape Town To Durban With Ticket To Ride
Who’s It For?
To be honest the trip is open to all levels of surf for all ages!
On our trip there was everyone from 18 year old pre university students to 40 year old career breakers with a whole mixed bag of surf experience too. At the end of the day age is just a number and everyone was there to enjoy the waves.
I would say however that as it’s dorm rooms throughout if you’re a bit older or in a couple upgrading to a double room would be a good move – I was definitely glad of it!
With the surfing if you have little to no surf experience that’s fine, the first 2 weeks in Cape Town teach you all the basics and give you a solid foundation on which to build your skills.
For everyone up to experienced intermediates (like myself) the coaches are high end (many of them compete on the WQS!) and you’ll be able to push your skills to new heights on a huge variety of breaks.
What Surf Destinations Do You Visit?
Duration: 2 Weeks
Cape Town is where the whole thing kicks off and is certainly the most action packed stop on the trip! From chilling with penguins on Boulders Beach to hiking up Table Mountain, wine tasting and scenic drives – get ready to smash your camera full of incredible photos!
You’ll spend two weeks in Muizenberg right on the beach – which is perfect as it’s actually one of the best beginner surf beaches on the entire planet!
So whether you’re new to surfing and need to get a slip foundation for the rest of the trip or an experienced surfer looking to iron out bad habits and refine your skills you’ll have a blast!
When it’s working the wave here will serve up some super long rides too – I clocked more than a handful over 150m long!
Depending on swell you’ll also check out some of the other epic surf spots around Cape Town – including Long Beach which definitely packs more of a punch.
- Accommodation; African Soul Surfer
- Activities; Wine tasting, Table Mountain Hike, Boulder Beach Penguins
- Optional Extras; Helicopter flight, scuba diving, seal snorkelling…honestly there are heaps of things to do in Cape Town!
Duration: 1 Week
After an action packed few weeks in Cape Town, Plettenberg Bay (aka Plett) is much more chilled and it’s a surf, eat, sleep, repeat routine.
With a punchy beach break round at Solar Beach, everyone found it took their surfing skills and confidence to another level. The local coaches John and Donnah are really yon the ball and will certainly push you to tackle bigger and better waves.
Then on the way to J’Bay you’ll get to tackle the famous Bloukrans Bungy – the highest Bridget Bungy in the world at 216m!
Face your fears and do it, it’s heaps of fun!
- Accommodation; Albergo for Backpackers
- Activities; Robben hike, Bloukrans Bungy (en route to J’Bay)
- Optional Extras; Skydive
Duration: 12 Days
Ah J’Bay – arguably the most famous South Africa surf destination and home to the Corona Pro world surf tour stop at SuperTubes.
Based at the famous Island Vibes hostel you’ll be sat right in front of a point break, reef break and beach break – all a short walk from your bed and you can even check them without leaving the hostel!
Phantoms is the point, slap in front of the hostel and a super fun right hander. Although it doesn’t break super frequently when it does get ready for some epic rides – I clocked my personal best at 194m long there!
Kitchen Windows is the reef and usually the most consistent wave. It’s an A frame rocky reef – but the right handers off it tend to be the longer and better options.
And then of course the beach break serves up some fun punch little waves – but honestly, you’re going to want to hit the reef and point more to progress your surfing.
- Accommodation; Island Vibes
- Activities; Surfboard shaper tour, rock jumping, Quiksilver surf museum, community projects
- Optional Extras; Skydive, sandboarding, horse riding, heaps of shopping
Duration – 1 Week
After the party vibes on J’Bay Cintsa takes things back a few gears and you’re totally out in the sticks!
Luckily you’re based at Bucaaneer Backpackers which has an epic little setup with stunning coastal views from your bedroom. It’s certainly more chilled here so pack a book and enjoy some down time – or maybe a swim in the pool and some volleyball!
The wave here is a punch right hander, walkable from the hostel and we also got a couple fun surfs in at nearby Yellow Sands, which offered some playful waves when the main break got too heavy,
- Accommodation; Buccaneers Backpackers
- Optional Extras; Horse riding, kayaking, SUPing
Duration – 10 Days
There’s no doubt about it – Coffee Bay was by far my favourite stop of the whole surfing South Africa trip!
This sleepy little village on the Wild Coast slowed the pace right down and our accommodation was on point, with epic food to refuel after the surf.
The landscape was also next level and the scenic coastal walk we did to Hole in the Wall was nothing short of stunning and well worth the 10km hike.
And as for waves? Well the waves here are super fun and as a goofy footer I was super stoked to get stuck into some lefts and practice my forehand surfing.
For me everything I’d learnt along the trip really clicked into place here and I’d happily have spent a longer time here.
- Accommodation; Coffee Shack
- Activities: Guided coastal walk
- Optional Extras; Village experience, alternative coastal walks
Duration – 2 Weeks
After 7 weeks of awesome locations, the Bluff was my least favourite stop of the trip and 2 weeks here felt like too long – especially as there is relatively little to do around the area near the hostel.
The wave out front is short and punchy and to be honest I didn’t really enjoy surfing there.
Luckily this is also the point of the trip when the surf coaching modules are going on, which meant we surfed Durban city quite a bit, which offers up some fun beach breaks and also some great waves at the piers which although crowded are great fun during the week when the crowds are thinner.
If you do opt to complete your surf instructor certification and surf lifesaver award (something you either have to book before heading to South Africa or a few weeks before Durban) get ready for swim tests, first aid training, in-ocean rescues and your ISA Level 1 classroom work.
If you decided to buy a new custom board this is also the spot you’ll pick them up…exciting times!
- Accommodation; Ansteys Backpackers
- Activities: Flowrider, Surf Instructor Certification + Surf Lifesaver Award (For surf instructor course)
- Optional Extras; Shark dive (something I’d highly recommend!)
Duration – 1 Week
Much like the Bluff I didn’t really get on with the waves out front here, but at least the area had a few more restaurants to enjoy.
We ended up surfing in Durban for the majority of the week so the beach breaks and piers offered up some fun waves.
This is also the part of the trip where you’ll go on a safari game drive – which to be honest I was super stoked about, as were a lot of the group. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite as expected, a self drive in the mini bus rather than the full safari jeep experience, which meant it was pretty difficult to see stuff.
There’s no doubt that you’ll be wanting to tick off a safari experience during your time in South Africa – so I’d strongly recommend booking a separate excursion to do it properly. You can either do this as a day trip from J’Bay or Durban, or alternatively do an overnight option before or after your trip – I can highly recommend the Kruger Safari I did from Johannesburg.
- Accommodation; Monkey Bay Backpackers
- Activities: Game drive safari
So what’s included on this epic 10 week South Africa surf adventure? Well there’s quite a lot packaged in…
- Welcome braai
- Accommodation (shared dorm – double room upgrades available)
- Surf rentals for the start of the trip
- Transport throughout
- Coaching from South Africa’s most highly regarded surf coaches
- Unlimited additional coaching from your Ticket to Ride Trip Leaders
- Small student to instructor ratios
- Getting coached on world-class consistent waves
- Discounts on equipment including Clayton Surfboards
- A surfboard and swell talk
- Leaving dinner party
- Return airport transfers
- Full UK support pre-departure
- Climb Table Mountain
- Time with the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony
- The chance to conquer the world’s highest bridge bungee jump
- Surfboard factory tour
- Community projects
- Safari game drive (although if you want a full safari experience I’d book one separately)
The Cost & Dates
As you might expect of such a big trip, it’s not going to be the cheapest trip you ever jump on!
Prices start at £4795 and are tiered – so the further in advance you book the cheaper it is. The full price option is £5195 so it’s definitely worth getting in early!
You can also add on the food pack which includes breakfast and dinner 5 days a week for an extra £600. As a veggie I opted out of this and it worked out cheaper to eat out or buy meals at the accommodation on the way. So if you’re on a tight budget after booking that’s the way I’d go.
As for departure dates the trip runs twice a year in January and September.
What Else Do You Need To Budget For?
Obviously the biggest cost over 10 weeks is going to be food and booze! South Africa is relatively cheap to eat out which is good news and you can grab a meal at a local restaurant for around 50-100ZAR (£2.5-£5) and beers will set you back around 20ZAR (£1).
Check out my Backpack South Africa Budget post for a more detailed breakdown.
The other major expense you’ll need to budget for is surf kit.
Now surf equipment is included for the 2 weeks in Cape Town but afterwards you’ll need to sort your own. Give the amount of time you’re surfing you’ll want to do this anyway so you make the most of your trip and have comfortable equipment.
Personally I bought a wetsuit before heading out (you’ll need a good 3/2mm wetsuit all the way up to Coffee Bay), the crew at Wetsuit Outlet who do some awesome deals so check them out.
As for boards – if you already have a board you’re comfortable on then you can bring it along – if not no worries, South Africa is actually super cheap for surfboards and you can pick up a new mini Mal (Ticket to Ride get some awesome discounts in Cape Town) for around £200.
The good thing about buying at the end of Cape Town is you can experiment with a few of the hire boards to find the right one and your coaches will be on hand with some expert advice – in fact there’s a whole board talk included so you can get the right stick for you.
…further up the coast when your surfing level has significantly improved you might also want to invest in a new custom board – so ideal budget for 2 purchases!
Would I do it again?
My biggest regret of this trip is not doing it 10 years ago – even as an experienced surfer my skills progressed heaps and having coaching of the calibre Dan and Jarred are at was incredible!
My honest answer to whether I’d do the trip again is yes – although personally I’d probably shortern it to a 7 week trip and finish after Coffee Bay as I felt the stops in the Bluff and Ballito didn’t really add to my experience.
Want a good overview of what the whole trip entails? Well hit play below and check out my full surf South Africa video roundup covering all the stops above and giving you a feel for the whole 10 Week South Africa Surf Adventure.
But beware, you’ll be wanting to book flights ASAP!
Are you heading on a surf trip soon?
Where’s on your hit list?