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Travel Guide: South Africa's top surf spots: From Dungeons' epic waves to Victoria Bay's stunning scenery

9th Aug 2013 10:33am | By Kate McCulley

When you think of surfing in South Africa, you probably picture the Eastern Cape’s Jeffreys Bay. J-Bay, as it’s known, has long led the pack, its beautiful break drawing surfers from around the world.

But there’s much more to South African surfing, and the real gems show up once you escape the most popular beaches.

From emerging towns along the Garden Route, to rugged communities of the Wild Coast, and chill spots just outside Cape Town, South Africa is bursting with excellent places to catch a wave – and, of course, there are two oceans at your disposal. Here’s our pick of the best lesser-known spots. 

Mdumbi Point

The Wild Coast is home to some of South Africa’s must-visit undiscovered surf spots – including Mdumbi, an isolated beach in the rural Transkei region. When conditions are good, its famous wave can run as long as 1km. This is a simple, protected and secluded beach, far from the masses. Without many modern amenities, some surfers come for a few days and stay for weeks.

Mdumbi offers easy access to other beaches of the Wild Coast. Advanced surfers can find their way to Ntlonyane and Mapuzi. Need to reconnect with civilisation? Head for Coffee Bay, a popular backpacker spot where the parties last all night and the waves are gentle enough for novices. Take advantage of your time on the Wild Coast by getting to know the friendly Xhosa community that calls this region home. You’ll get a glimpse of African life as it’s been lived for centuries.

Mdumbi Backpackers offers budget accommodation in traditional Xhosa-style huts just steps from the beach. Stay longer and they’ll show you their projects helping the local community – as well as unusual surf spots yet to be discovered by the masses.

Highlight: Mdumbi’s seclusion ensures that you’ll see more wildlife than on more developed beaches. Keep your eyes peeled for pods of dolphins or even whales in the distance. If you’re really lucky, you’ll see wild horses roaming the beach.

How to Get There: Mdumbi is a 4.5-hour drive from East London, which you can fly to from Cape Town or Johannesburg with SA Express from £100 one-way. The ride from Coffee Bay is a 23km journey over a rough gravel road. Mdumbi Backpackers offers a shuttle service from Coffee Bay or the Mthatha/ Umtata Baz Bus stop.

Victoria Bay

Victoria Bay, just south of George in the heart of the Garden Route, has long been known as a surfers’ pit stop halfway between Cape Town and J-Bay. Flanked by a coastal forest and suitable for all levels of surfers, Vic Bay has grown into a standalone destination guided by fiercely loyal locals.

The waves are consistent, and the scene is quiet and serene most of the time, but expect busier days when the surf is good, especially in the summer. Novice surfers paddle in slowly; more advanced surfers jump straight off the rocks.

Vic Bay Surfari offers budget lodging just along the beach along with surf camps and trips up the coast to other hot Garden Route surf spots. With a location so close to the Garden Route, Vic Bay is perfectly situated for further exploration. Of course, there’s always surfing in Mossel Bay or Buffalo Bay – but check out the adventures on dry land in Knysna or Sedgefield as well.

Highlight: In a country known for its incredible natural beauty, Vic Bay is especially stunning. Surrounded by cliffs and lush green forest with mountains in the distance, this may be the most beautiful surf spot in all of South Africa.

How to Get There: Victoria Bay is a 15-minute drive from George, which you can fly direct to from Johannesburg or Cape Town with SA Express from £75 one way.