Winter surf Cape Town – where to surf when its huge

Posted on Sunday, August 26th, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Cape Town has 2 seasons in terms of surfing and that is flat windy summer and wooly winter. The prevailing wind direction in summer is south-east. It blows so regularly its even got a nick name. During Cape Towns winter, the surf is cold, rainy, stormy and sometimes very big. Storms and big  swells quite often are accompanied by a strong north westerly wind. So where to go when its huge?

If you thought you can chill, catch up on soapies, do your fingernails and potter around the house when its big we will proof you wrong. There are in fact Cape Town winter surf spots, surfable for people with normal lung volume, when the swell is huge and scary. We have collaborated and test-surfed some Cape Town winter surf spots for your convenience.

Because of headlands and swell directions some spots are small and surfable while others are wooly. Anything over 5m ocean swell 12 seconds – consider packing your warmest wetsuit, a thermos flask and fearless girlfriend and check out the following winter spots:

Bikini Beach | Gordons Bay

Working on a mid to high tide surprisingly I have seen this spot offshore in a howling south easter (northerly wind would be offshore looking at the map). Somehow the wind gets thrown off the mountain holding up a steepish left-hand point break. Park the car along the wall at Bikini Beach and jump off at the pipe at the end of Beach Road. If you time it right you won’t even get your hair wet and are about 10meters away from the take off spot. The rocks are pretty close when taking off on a short board. Pick a long board, sup or fish and you will have a jol. If you have delicate little feet like me, you should bring your booties yes.

Winter surf | Bikini Beach

Bikini Beach working | 5 m ocean swell 14 sec strong south easter

Thermos | Sea Point | Cape Town

Another surf spot good for winter surf is Thermos. Thermos is conveniently positioned in Sea Point close to town. It needs a huge swell and a south easterly wind to be happy. Downsides are the water is somehow polluted, there are rocks and kelp and the vibe is quite competitive. Upsides are if the current takes you down the point you get flushed out at the Radisson Hotel (a great place for sundowners). Best in a large south or west swell, this place is worth having a look at if the charts show 4-5 m ocean swell. Coming from town, park your car at the first parking after the Granger Bay Hotel school. Paddle out to the left of the wreck, where the pipe is. There are two take off spots – one to the right at the ship wreck and one where the wall starts (easier I hear). Watch out – on big days there is a danger to get stuck in the dolosse or to bounce back from the wall at the hotel school parking in a strong backwash. While writing this I spoke to at least two people who had hectic experiences. Intermediate to advanced only! P.S. I haven’t actually surfed there, Nailah has.

More info about this Cape Town winter surf spot here …


This is the beach break where you will find the most women surfing in Cape Town. In a north-westerly wind direction and a southerly swell it produces slow gentle lines and long rides. The swell takes longer to wrap into the bay if the swell direction is sw, so if its huge on the Atlantic it can be 1ft in Muizenberg. When the swell arrives in False Bay its often squeeky clean and the huge slow traveling water walls remind of skiing slopes. Lifestyle surf shop at the circle has hot showers and if you are a member you can use them. Empire cafe has the best coffee to warm up those stiff frozen flippers.

Glen Cairn | Simonstown area

In a huge swell and a south westerly wind this winter surf beach break can produce an easy beginner-friendly surfable medium sized wave. Advantages are it works in a southwest wind (hardly any surf spot in Cape Town does) and its rip-free and beginner friendly. Disadvantages are its quite popular with Cape Town sharks. However, Glencairn is part of the shark spotting program. Jey!

Disneylands | Witsands

Disneylands is as the name suggests a wave for women and children. Standing on the Witsands hill looking out to sea this easy surf spot is to the right of Witsands. So its Misty Cliffs, Witsands, Disneylands. Big swells wrap around the headland which is Crayfish factory. Whats left looks far less scary than what the big boys surf a couple of meters further out at the well known right hand break. Disneylands is a beach break, its gentle and forgiving. Drive there in a northwesterly wind and a massive sw swell.

Black Rocks left | Cape Point Nature Reserve

Black Rocks in the reserve is a well known big wave spot. Its most famous for its right that breaks onto a shallow rock shelf and than peels for meters into a deep channel. Black Rocks is easier on a high tide and is offshore in a south westerly wind. Most likely you will be the only girl in the parking lot amongst a bunch of hardcore Kommetjie surfers but don’t let that disturb you. They are all there to surf the right. One of the best kept secrets is the left, which is mellower than the right and therefore often unsurfed. If you want to get into this spot, high tide and a medium swell (3.5m southerly ocean swell) is best. You can paddle out from Black Rocks parking and paddle a wide circle around the take off area for the right to get to the left or you take the Buffelsbay turn off and paddle out from there. Only paddle out here if you feel comfortable surfing big rocky kelpy point breaks.

Innerkom |  Kommetjie

Likes a south easterly wind, tends to get crowded and is a bit kelpy, but is small enough for small children when the guys are surfing Outerkom.

More detail about this surf spot click here …

Sandy Bay | near Llundudno

Just a short walk on a scenic boardwalk from Llundudno is Sandy Bay, Cape Town’s well know nudist beach.
This spot is small and surfable when other spots are maxed out. When the big wave crew paddles out at Sunset, Windguru charts show over 4 m ocean swell and the wind is south easterly this spot might be worth checking. The wave is a gnarly little barrel on the right of the bay (looking out to sea). Nice wave to practice a fast take-off.

Banks south of the Rivermouth | Cape Town Westcoast

This very secret Cape Town surf spot never really became super popular, as it breaks nice twice a year. When it does, chances are the locals keep it to themselves until the banks are gone. Best at midtight and swell must be no bigger than 4 – 4.5 m ocean swell. Its a sand bottom right hand point that starts breaking in the river mouth and then peels over a sandbank. The water is filthy here.

Hout Bay | Cape Town

Next to the harbour wall at the wharf in Hout Bay there can be a small wedge-like wave that breaks nice. Its head high in huge winter surf and breaks left. Preferred wind direction for this Cape Town surf spot is north westerly.

Note, the first day of storm is never nice. Its churned up and rough and often so windy you get blown out to sea.

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