Surfing – Conquer South Africa’s Waves
Whether you’re a long boarder, surfer, body-boarder, knee boarder or just a beach lover, South Africa is the place to go. The country is jam-packed with excellent surf-spots just waiting to take your breath – and sometimes your board – away. South Africa has a very large surfing community and virtually every coastal city has its fair share of pros, horror stories, surf spots and legends. Of course, in some areas, high concentrations of rocks make surfing a dangerous past time which should only be attempted by the insanely desperate expert. However, many of the country’s beaches pose little more threat than a constantly breaking medium-sized wave and a host of swimmers to crowd in on you.
Surfing in South Africa has, in many ways, shaped the coastal culture that can be found here. Most coastal cities enjoy a laid-back approach to life, a somewhat peculiar vocabulary and a passion for the sea. Of course, not everyone here surfs but even those that don’t will usually rejoice at the idea of spending a day on some of the world’s finest beaches – usually watching those that do surf. Of course, as with any surf spot in the world, there are various dangerous to take into consideration. One such danger is the high incident of great white shark attacks on surfers. Whether this has to do with the fact that surfers generally venture further out than swimmers or with the theory that surfers really do resemble the biggest seal a shark every laid eyes on from beneath the water, shark attacks are a reality in South Africa. However, most major surfing spots will have shark nets in place as well as lifeguards who keep a steady eye on the horizon.
In several other places, a brand new initiative has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of shark attacks occurring in the country. Historically disadvantaged people are educated and used as scouts. They position themselves at high vantage points overlooking popular swimming and surfing areas and they radio in any suspicious looking dark shadows that are approaching the shore. The lifeguards then take action to get people out the water as quickly as possible. Another alternative involves the use of the still relatively new ‘shark leash’. This short cord can be strapped onto the ankle and used to send out electronic signals which deter sharks. Other dangers to surfers usually include sunburn and strong undercurrents which they may be unaware of.
The number one surf destination in South Africa is likely the small coastal town of Jeffrey’s Bay. This picturesque little town has hosted some of the biggest surfing events to ever reach South African shores and it is also a mecca for surf-orientated clothing brands. A word of warning, however, Jeffrey’s Bay does not have huge waves all day every day. There are days when the water lies still and surfers have to sit it out and wait. However, when the waves come in, they can come in really big. Why not try a surfing tour of South Africa and enjoy the many great surf spots around the country? It’s an opportunity that should not be missed.