Cape Town surf spots for experienced surfers – Thermopylae

Between the Victoria and Albert Waterfront and the Mouille Point lighthouse lies the skeletal remains that were once the boiler and
cylinder of a mail steamship called the Athens, which went down on the treacherous rocks in 1865. Or so says salvage-diver Jimmy Bell. Much to Jimmy’s indignation, for reasons known only to the late Doyan, John Whitmore,, the surfspot is called Thermopylae, not the Athens. The logic for the different name is probably a long story, akin perhaps to the reasons why pink competition surfing vests are called red.  Or it could be that another ship, an Australian liner, which, some thirty years later, also wrecked somewhere along there, but totally wrecked, was given the honour of being acknowledged, while the Athens, which left behind a derelict structure that enables surfers to have fun, remains anonymous. Anyway, Thermopylae, or Thermos to some, works in a medium large to biggish swell, best at high tide or pushing high. One of the few places in Cape Town that’s okay in a southwesterly wind, Thermos likes a west, south-west or south swell. It’s a powerful left with a dodgy bowl section shortly after takeoff and on a good day you can ride a long wall all the way past the earth and rock-filled concrete breakwater of reclaimed harbour land – a distance of a few hundred metres. On a smaller than huge day, around three to four foot, you can pick up waves that come through further down the line, beyond the beginning of the buttress wall – a mellow wave, albeit perilously close to a couple of cathedral spire rocks. This section is generally not ridden by the big boys.  But it’s where some surf sisters go – and have a fun time.”
The Radisson is a pleasant yet pricy place for sundowners right on the water’s edge, where you can watch surfers ride very close to the edge of the deck. Nearby Newport is a popular coffee and lunch place, and there are many more to choose from along Moullie Point beach road.
The vibe is local and hot when it is big; a lot more friendly when it is smaller.
3 out 5. One of the few breaks in Cape Town that works well in SW wind. The wave itself is not difficult, but clambering over rocks to get in can be offputting.  Because it breaks close to the sea wall it is formidable when the swell is big – and the water can be polluted.