What’s it like surfing Cape Town’s Muizenberg Beach in the winter? Not as cold as I thought it would be! My surfing road trip update from South Africa.
After two weeks of intense surfing in Cape Town, I’m already seeing a huge improvement in my technique.
The surfing at Muizenberg has been a lot of fun, with plenty of waves for everyone to practice on. In fact they never seem to stop!
This is the reason why Muizenberg Beach is considered by many to be one of the best places in the world for learning how to surf.
My surf adventure began in Cape Town, where I spent 12 days surfing on and off with instructors. We learned how to paddle into waves, proper positioning to catch them, how to pop up onto the board, correct stance, the basics of turning, and how to stay safe.
The abundant practice time really helped me improve. We’d usually have a lesson in the morning followed by free surfing in the afternoon almost every day.
The ocean was a chilly 62 degrees (17C), so wetsuits are required. But surfing Cape Town in the winter is not as uncomfortable as I thought it would be.
A decent 4/3 wetsuit will keep you warm enough during a 2 hour session.
The water around Cape Town, specifically False Bay, is notorious for its abundance of Great White Sharks. However it’s important to note that just because they’re around doesn’t mean surfing in the ocean here is deadly.
Do attacks happen? Yes. But compared to the number of people in the water every year, shark attacks are an extremely rare occurrence. I wasn’t worried about them. The fact is, your bathtub is more likely to kill you.
Muizenberg beach has a shark warning system in place, with spotters located at high lookout points. If a shark is seen nearby, the water is cleared until it swims away from the area.
Cage diving with great white sharks is a very popular activity around Cape Town. Some friends went cage diving in False Bay while we were there.
It’s a spectacular experience to see these powerful animals up close!
Surfing wasn’t the only activity I enjoyed in Cape Town though. We also spent an afternoon hanging out with the African penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach. The area is part of Table Mountain National Park, and you can walk along raised wooden platforms right next to families of cute penguins.
The African Penguin is endangered, and Boulder’s Beach gives you a very unique opportunity to view these birds in a natural environment. If you’re lucky, you can even get pretty close to them! Just don’t touch, they like to bite.
We also hiked up Cape Town’s most famous landmark, the majestic Table Mountain. This short but steep hike takes 2-3 hours, and the views at the top are fabulous. Provided it isn’t too cloudy…
However a blanket of fast-moving clouds below you can be interesting too.
One of the highlights of my surfing adventure so far has been volunteering with the Waves For Change project. This outstanding charity is helping to build stronger & safer communities by teaching kids to surf.
They use surfing to recruit the most-vulnerable youth from poverty & violence stricken townships into a program that offers social, educational, and health support these kids desperately need.
We spent a day surfing with kids from Khayelitsha Township. Teaching young ones the basics, and trying to keep up with the more experienced surfers among them.
If you’re going to be around Cape Town and want to help out, definitely contact them. It’s a wonderful organization doing great things.
Planning a surfing trip to Cape Town? The area has an abundance of accessible surf spots for surfers of all levels. Here are a few popular local breaks for beginner & intermediate surfers.
Muizenberg is one of the best breaks for beginner surfers in the world. It’s located on the Indian Ocean side of Cape Town, so the water is a bit warmer than other spots in the area. However it’s still cold. A 4/3 wetsuit is recommended. It often has long, gentle, and frequent waves. A beach break with a sandy bottom. This makes it an ideal place to learn the basics of surfing. Waves can break all over the place though, both left and right.
While we never made it over to Long Beach, it’s known to be a nice intermediate wave with slightly more power than those at Muizenberg. You can find it near Kommetjie, a suburb of Cape Town. The wave is a bit more sheltered, also with a sandy bottom, and very popular with surfers. It can break both right and left, more frequently left though.
(Click to watch Surfing Cape Town – South Africa on YouTube)
Location: Cape Town, South Africa [Map]
Accommodation: Bailey’s Surf Shack
Useful Tips: Seriously people, stop freaking out about sharks. You’re more likely to be killed by a dog. I know JAWS was a scary film, but your fears are not based in reality.
UPDATE: Yes, I just heard about the recent shark attack at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg. That doesn’t change my opinion. It was a freak and unfortunate coincidence. There hasn’t been an attack in Muizenberg since 2006. Countless people have been swimming & surfing there for 8 years with no problems. Did you hear about the lightning strike at Venice Beach that killed someone yesterday? Probably not. Shark attacks are more sensational.
Have you ever tried surfing before? Did you enjoy it? Share with us in the comments below!