Water sports to try
Surfing needs no introduction. It’s been a popular sport for what seems like forever and you’ll find a proponent of the surfer lifestyle wherever you go.
The best spots for surfing in the Western Cape are Eland’s Bay on the West Coast, about 3 hours from Cape Town, Long Beach and Muizenberg, both along the Cape Peninsula.
Head up the east coast and you want to stop at Stil Bay, Victoria Bay, Buffels Bay, Cape St Francis or Jeffrey’s Bay, known around the world as a surfing haven. Durban’s North Beach makes for a spectacular surfing spot if you happen to find yourself in Kwazulu-Natal.
Basic equipment: A surfboard, wetsuit, surf wax, and a leg rope.
With a kayak over your shoulder you can head to the nearest dam, lagoon or beach. Which one you choose will depend entirely on the experience you want. First-timers might find that bodies of water work better to get used to balancing in a kayak however. But move over to the ocean, that chops and changes, when you’re feeling comfortable.
Prime spots for kayaking across the country include Saldanha, Langebaan, Hout Bay, Pletternberg Bay, Tsitsikamma, and Durban’s uShaka Island Marine Park.
Basic equipment: A kayak, oar, sprayskirt and a lifejacket.
One of the younger sports on this list, kitesurfing has become enormously popular over the past few years. You strap yourself to a board, hook yourself into a parachute-like kite and set sail. It’s known as a difficult discipline to master, but the rush you’ll get from being dragged across the ocean at top speeds will make all the frustration worth it in the end.
Make your way to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth or Durban for the best kitesurfing experiences. It shouldn’t be too hard to spot the most popular beaches, as the skyline will be dotted with colourful kites.
Basic equipment: A kite, which includes the bar, line and safety system, a board and a harness.
As kitesurfing’s popularity has picked up, windsurfing’s has dwindled, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore this discipline. As with kitesurfing, it provides an enormous adrenaline rush while giving you a workout like very few other sports can.
With its strong summer winds, many consider Cape Town to be the best spot for windsurfing in South Africa. More specifically, the suburb of Bloubergstrand. If you can’t get yourself to Cape Town, Durban and other towns on the Kwazulu-Natal coast, like Umhlanga, are good bets.
Basic equipment: A board, sail, mast, booms, fins, and a life jacket.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
The great thing about stand up paddle boarding is that it requires very little equipment. You can go the minute you manage to get up and stay on the board. Be warned – it’s not as easy it looks! You’ll need a strong core and a superb sense of balance.
A great place to try stand up paddle boarding for the first time is Langebaan Lagoon on the West Coast. The water is mostly flat and even when it’s not, it shouldn’t present a huge challenge. Once you have the hang of it, you can try other beaches like Muizenberg, Strand and Blouberg.
Basic equipment: A board, paddle, leash, and a life jacket.