Plettenberg Bay Region – Playing in the Surf

The December holidays; a time to relax, throw yourself into neutral and enjoy a little life to the maximum. This is the period when people flock to the refreshingly warm waters found along the eastern South African coastline. Of course some kayaking is thrown into all of this and if you’re reading this then you’re obviously a kayaker and know how hard it is to paddle almost everyday. Yip, I’m sure you can relate to me on this tough job but hey, someone’s got to do it!

Plettenberg Bay lies along the Garden Route and if you ever visit South Africa then do yourself a favour and take a drive along this scenic stretch. Whether you’re a kayaker or not, young or old, you will find many beautiful and fascinating places along its entire length. There are plenty of beaches to explore and in the winter time there are some world class waves that break here, Jeffery’s Bay being one town which will probably ring a bell with its world class break, Super Tubes. Unfortunately summer time the waves aren’t as good but at least the water is usually quite warm and pleasant. Plettenberg Bay is one of my favourite places to just relax and unwind. Even though there are lots of people there it is always possible to find a secluded spot and that is more my style. I love it!!!


The Storms River looking upstream from the N2 bridge (left) and downstream view (right).


Ah I just love this photo. It's so typical of South Africans. Parking on the bridge at Bobbejaans right under the 'no-stopping' sign. I could take photos similar to this and publish a complete book!  :-)


Bobbejaans River looking upstream from the N2 bridge (left) and downstream (right). First descent awaits... The put-in and take-out would be quite tough!


Various shots of the Kruis River at a very low level. First descent awaits...


Photos of the same river in Flood.....!!! YEEHAAAAA. Mainly of the last low level picture shown above.


Most of my kayaking time was spent at Lookout Beach. This once beautiful beach is unfortunately not there anymore and exists only in name now. Due to some heavy rain the Keurbooms River came down with a tremendous force and moved the river mouth right up the rocks, where The Deck is. Even though it has destroyed the beach entirely and also half of the parking lot, there are some really sick waves there. The sand bank in the mouth, directly next the channel, forms some really fun waves that break beautifully. Basically like a point break but without the consequences. I found it to work best about 3 and half to about one hour before high tide. Unfortunately I never got any photos at this spot. The swell never really got big but we had a few decent days which I shared with Cape Town based paddler, Rowan Walpole. We had some really fun sessions with Kevin Rodwell joining us too from time to time.


Lookout Beach on a small day at the peak of high tide. Photo courtesy Trevor Tregoning.


Adrian at Keurbooms Beach. Pan-am? I don't know the moves and their names... Photos by Trevor Tregoning.


Fluid medium Spice (background) and Fluid medium Nemesis (foreground). Photo by Trevor Tregoning.


Kevin Rodwell (left) and Adrian Tregoning (right). Photo by Trevor Tregoning.


Adrian Tregoning at Keurbooms. Donkey Flip/Air screw? Still not sure what the difference is. Photos by Trevor Tregoning.


Adrian getting out at Keurbooms. Photo by Trevor Tregoning.


The only time I got some photos was at Keurbooms Beach, about seven kilometres up the coastline from the river mouth. This beach is great for just going to the beach and relaxing and offers some incredibly long and peaceful walks. But as for paddling it isn’t great. It has always been a steeply shelved beach, usually with a solid shore break that can crush you. It always has bigger waves than anywhere else although when we did have better waves at Lookout I decided to stay there as the quality is far higher. The waves at Keurbooms do run a little, depending on the sand banks but usually they just close out. There are strong rip currents and also lots and lots of sharks. This beach also gets infested with blue bottles and jellyfish after an onshore wind blows. On my final day I couldn’t even paddle because of the blue bottles, a real shame.


Foot print next to the Keurbooms Lagoon.


Keurbooms Lagoon. Note the lovely mountains in the background.


Burchell's coucal; indeed a beautiful bird. I took about 30 photos of him while he made a very audible sound and fluffed himself up every now and then (not in the photo). Eventually he attacked the camera and me in the process. Needless to say, I left him well alone after almost jumping out of my skin at the sudden attack. They are larger than what it looks in the photo... and a crap load faster than would be expected!  :-) Click here for a shot of one of these beasts in flight.


Some random flower. A nice shot so I thought I'd include it.


Keurbooms Beach. Photos by Trevor Tregoning.


Adrian at Keurbooms, again. Photo by Trevor Tregoning.


Keurbooms Beach and my dream house on the right. Photo by Trevor Tregoning.


Adrian Tregoning surfing Greg Walpole's surf kayak on a tiny day at Robberg Beach. It was the last day of the year I think. I just had to get one surf in still. Photo by Cheri Collett. (Thanks for coming down for a few minutes before the rain...)


Adrian Tregoning with an aerial blunt at Keurbooms. Photos by Trevor Tregoning.


Adrian and the medium Fluid Nemesis. Photo by Trevor Tregoning.


Back at the camp next to the Keurboom Lagoon. The perfect spot to stay!


Thanks to my dad I managed to get a couple of photos which aren’t too bad. The kayaking photos were all taken with a 300mm Sigma lens. At the moment I don’t have the inclination to spend my savings on a decent lens so I’ll still wait a while. Given the circumstances and the poor lens I think the photos aren’t too bad, I’ve seen worse on other sites. Either way, the extreme patience of my dad is something to behold and he sat there for quite a while to get the goods, on two different occasions.  


Before kayaking this was the love of my life. Now I hardly ever get to sail. Adrian at Keurbooms Lagoon. Video stills from video taken by Trevor Tregoning.


Adrian at Keurbooms. Photo by Cheri Collett.


Another awesome beach outside of Enrico. Try their food! Awesome!


Gotta love these sea gulls. Friendly chaps when you've got some food and with their incredible eye sight you can never leave your braai unattended.


On my last day the beach was covered with these blue bottles, making it clearly obvious that going out into the surf would result in some nasty stings.


Sunset at Harkerville. I watched the sun set here on 31 December 1999. Last day of the 20th century.

Throughout the holiday I was waiting for my Fluid Element to arrive. Unfortunately, due to some really bad luck, I wasn’t able to get my boat. It was a real downer but at least I had my Fluid Nemesis to keep me busy. So no carving photos, just a couple of aerial shots. I still had an absolute ball in the ocean and still managed to ride a couple of waves at least a little. Even though the Nemesis is quick it will never have the speed of a surf specific kayak. Still, I got some much bigger aerial moves this year and I think my usually bad play boating actually improved for a change. Soon I’ll take my Element down to the coast and hopefully then I can get the speed I need. Should be good, can’t wait!



Photography by: Adrian Tregoning, unless otherwise stated. Thanks to my dad for making a big effort and spending solid time sitting under the umbrella getting the goods. Appreciate it! And also to Cheri Collett for her photos. Thank you...  :-)

Words by: Adrian Tregoning.