Cape Town has an outstanding number of spots with high quality waves - in fact it has some world class spots. No matter what the wind and swell are doing, you are almost always guaranteed to find something, as long as you are prepared to drive. Of course, some of the spots are for the hardcore only. This guide is aimed mainly at surf kayakers and mainly beach breaks, although I have included a few more serious spots as well.

Disclaimer & Notes About this Article:

As with any guide, this article is based on my personal experiences and thoughts. Although the main target audience would naturally be surf kayakers, other wave riders might be able to benefit a little from this too. It must also be noted that Cape Town has MANY other spots, several others which would be too hardcore for 99% of surf kayakers and these I have not shown. I have, however, shown some of the advanced spots to keep people fired up and motivated to push themselves. For a full guide, buy a book, and even then they won’t show you the secret spots. For ease of placing photos, I will run the spots alphabetically. Some spots may be up to 100km away from Cape Town, but I’ve kept most of the spots close by. I’ve also given the GPS coordinates which I’ve read off of Google Earth. Most of them are of the wave itself, others may point to the parking lot, but in the end, you’ll find what you’re looking for. It would be too laborious for me to give decent directions for each and every spot so if you don’t have a GPS, then look these up on the internet and then you can easily correspond the positions to your map. With all of that in mind, enjoy!

Betty’s Bay - 34°21'30.33"S  18°54'21.04"E

There is only really one main beach here. It faces SE and S as it has a bit of a banana curve, therefore it’s offshore on a NW wind. It needs a decent swell for it to work properly as the swell needs to wrap around the bay a bit. Most of the swell in Cape Town comes from the SW direction.  Breaks on sand and gets super hollow. Very often closes out, especially the bigger waves but on occasion you can get some good rides, even world class rides I might add. The beach is gently shelving so shore break isn’t really a problem but then it drops off to deep water very quickly, so basically only one wave. Very steep and powerful and you may find yourself mashed into the sand if you’re bodyboarding. For the more advanced kayaker I’d say, unless it’s really small. Don’t drop in on the locals (you shouldn’t drop in on anyone in any place anyway), some of them have small town syndrome and are looking for an excuse to knock you around. Parking is ok, but could be dodgy on quiet weekdays. There are showers to wash your kit. Finding the actual beach might be a bit of a nightmare as the roads in Betty’s Bay make no sense. If you haven’t been there before I recommend printing out a screen shot from Google Earth.

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Adrian Tregoning at Betty’s Bay with a howling NW wind – offshore. Last two photos by Rowan Walpole.Bettys_05 copy Bettys_Bay_G_Earth

Big Bay - 33°47'35.28"S  18°27'26.97"E

Great for beginners when the swell is small. Faces the SW in a big arc. Small waves on the left (when facing the sea) and bigger on the right. Usually just closes out and one has to be lucky to get a long ride. Breaks on sand and can have hollow sections, but mostly not. When it’s big the waves break across the back of the bay and then getting out on a kayak becomes close to impossible. Waves will just close out in huge, hollow crunchers on the sand and then it’s best to head to the other side of the rocks to Karmers (or Kamer van 17 as it is also known). Safe parking and there are showers to wash your gear too. Handles some SE wind, but then gets very busy with windsurfers once it gets really windy. Kiters aren’t allowed to sail at Big Bay and are supposed to go to the right of rocks on the right but they creep in anyway, annoying when the wind is marginal. Big Bay can handle some NW wind as well, one of the only spots on the West Coast that can, but as long as it’s not too strong. Overall not a great spot but worth a look and one usually walks past it to Karmers – read about that further down.

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Big Bay cooking, I took this as a video still from a camera strapped to my chest. Big_Bay_03 copy Big_Bay_04 copy

Adrian Tregoning surfing Big Bay on a large day. Last two photos by Trevor Tregoning. Big_Bay_05 copy

The rocks just to thee right side of Big Bay on Christmas Day, 2008 – very big to be breaking beyond the rocks. Big_Bay_G_Earth

Black Rocks - 34°18'35.75"S  18°27'45.48"E

Needs very big swell for it to push properly into False Bay and reach this spot. Breaks on rocks and is awesome. A left and right break but the right is better, as you can see in the photos. Expert kayakers only, this is a big wave spot only, also, it will be very crowded with surfers, so good luck. Launching is off rocks and this is a real problem for a surf kayak with fins. The spot faces east. Have a look at the photos and decide for yourself – incredible.

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Blauberg - 33°48'38.62"S  18°28'0.67"E

The area in Table View with loads of beach, look opposite the Doodles restaurant too. Quite a few options, but usually there isn’t much action happening here. Big Bay will almost always be bigger, but maybe not better. Breaks on sand. You want to hit any of these waves without wind, otherwise it’s even worse. Good for beginners. If the swell is big and there isn’t wind you might find good waves here, depending on the sand bars. The photos shown are from a rare day, in fact the only time I’ve bothered with this spot.

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Adrian Tregoning on a solid day at Blauberg (or however else you wish to spell it…) Rare to get zero wind. Last three photos by Trevor Tregoning.  Blauberg_04 copy Blauberg_G_Earth

Bordjiesrif - 34°18'48.44"S  18°27'49.37"E

Probably similar to Black Rocks and the point at Buffels Bay. Look at the picture, you decide.

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Buffels Bay – the beach in the Cape Point Nature Reserve - 34°19'5.19"S  18°27'40.93"E

Not to be confused with Buffels Bay near Knysna. This is an east facing beach break. It’s very hollow and mostly just closes out. A single wave that can be fun, conditions depending. It is quite sharky though and I’ve been buzzed twice in twenty minutes, possibly the same shark. Be careful. A friend of Niell Taylors was eaten by a Great White not far from here, he was spearfishing though. The beach is lovely though and you will probably be surfing on your own, crowds will never be a problem. Take your girlfriend with, she can tan in peace without prying eyes.

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A massive day. Buffels_Bay_Beach_02 copyAn average day.

Buffels Bay – the point break in the Cape Point Nature Reserve - 34°19'19.11"S  18°27'48.27"E

Like Black Rocks, it needs huge swell to get it working. This spots works on fewer occasions than Black Rocks. You will be greeted with a huge right hand point break (on rocks and kelp in case it wasn’t obvious) and also with crowds of surfers. As a surf kayaker you could launch at the beach and paddle there, assuming you can get through the pounding waves on the beach! It has potential, but you might waste your time because it breaks so rarely that you can expect a lot of people to be there, and they won’t be smiling to have a kayak there too. Definitely experts only. The ride is long and world class though. If you’re brave, do it, brings mates with in case the surfers are looking for in you in the car park afterwards. Such a shame that the really good spots will get busy and because they break so rarely the chaps riding them don’t want to miss any waves.

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Caves - 34°13'30.94"S  18°50'17.06"E

This spot is on the far right of the long beach at Koeël Bay. It breaks on sand but at high tide goes right up to the imposing cliffs. Very popular with bodyboarders. This place can get huge too.  It is very hollow and depending on the sand banks, can give a solid ride. For the more advanced kayaker. The walk down is steepish and although there have been safety issues in the parking lot above, there is now a car guard on weekends, for what it’s worth anyway. Still works on a mild SE wind amazingly enough. Actually, it works most when a lot of other spots are too small. Best on low tide for a kayaker I’d say. I believe it’s quite sharky. One chap has been attacked already. Take the drive out, it’s a beautiful drive. We always drive past on the way to paddling the Palmiet River.

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A super small day. Caves_06 copy Caves_07 copy Caves_09 copy Caves_11 copy

A monster day – no one out.  Caves_CJ_01 copy

Photo by Christian Junker. Caves_CJ_02 copy

Photo by Christian Junker. Caves_CJ_03_Peet_Verreynne copy

Peet Verreynne at Caves. Photo by Christian Junker. Caves_CJ_04_Tiaan_Krigler copy

Tiaan Krigler at Caves. Photo by Christian Junker. Caves_G_Earth

Crayfish Factory - 34°10'53.49"S  18°20'37.23"E

One of THE big wave spots in South Africa. It’s a powerful right hander breaking on rocks and kelp. Expert kayakers only. In fact, I don’t think anyone has ever kayaked this wave, and it will be a while before someone does. There are very powerful rip currents too. Good for windsurfing on a NW wind if you’re expert.

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This is actually right of the normal take off spot, way right. Crayfish_Factory_02 copy Crayfish_G_EarthCrayfish on the far left point. Wistand inside the sandy bay.

Derde Steen - 33°46'0.72"S  18°26'34.05"E

Ah, one of my favourite places to kayak.  Quite a mean shore break, depending on waves and tides, watch out. Usually best on low tide, with as little wind as possible. The SE and NW wind messes this spot up very quickly. Then it’s best to hit Karmers, Big Bay or Melkbos if you’re in the area. Breaks on sand, and can be quite hollow and powerful. When the swell gets very big this place doesn’t work nicely anymore, quite strange. Also, the shore break becomes big enough to break bones, so you wouldn’t kayak it anyway. It can get incredibly busy and if you want to score this spot, wake up early. People in Cape Town are generally very late risers so if you’re here before sunset you will have minimal company. That goes for all spots. When the parking lot is full, people park on the road. There are usually a few sand banks that you’ll see the surfers clustered around. Often the waves have a left and right break. I’ve had zero problems with locals. A really good wave when it works, you will come out smiling.

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Adrian Tregoning at Derde Steen on a glassy day. Last three photos by Luke Longridge. Derde_Steen_06 copy Derde_Steen_07 copy Derde_Steen_08 copy Derde_Steen_09 copy Derde_Steen_10 copy Derde_Steen_11 copy

Adrian Tregoning enjoying the Fluid Spice. Last two photos by Niell Taylor. Derde_Steen_G_Earth

Diaz Beach - 34°21'17.68"S 18°28'55.30"E

Also spelt Dias. Near Cape Point, in the reserve. It has a very long walk down and there are an enormous amount of stairs to enjoy, so bring proper shoes to hike in. A single, very powerful wave breaking on the sand. Big and hollow – for the advanced to expert kayaker only. Popular with bodyboarders. Works on many different wind directions. It is definitely a beautiful spot to surf, bring your girlfriend with for brownie points, although she may not like the walk.

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Diaz on a monster day.  Diaz_Beach_G_Earth

Dungeons - 34° 3'50.54"S  18°19'59.95"E

Ok, so it’s never been properly kayaked. Only with a homemade sit on top kayak by the crazy Frenchman Oli Feuillette on a ‘small’ day, which is still a very notable achievement! This is the venue for the Red Bull Big Wave Africa – need I say more? It breaks on rocks and it bloody insane. I believe Peter Lambert has ridden it on a bodyboard, I’m not sure if anyone else has. If you feel the need to make a name for yourself, do it here. Works when the swell gets big. Watch out for the sharks too. You need a boat to get here, and probably a jetski to recover your potential corpse. Boats all launch from Hout Bay, see below.

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Photo by Peter Lambert.  Dungeons-50 copy

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Photo by Peter Lambert. Dungeons_G_EarthDungeons of the bottom of this screenshot. Hout Bay harbour on the top right.  

Hout Bay - 34° 2'50.26"S  18°21'37.73"E

It has a beach with mostly pretty small waves. Needs really big swell before it starts to work properly. It’s offshore in a NW wind. Next to the harbour wall can get good, but needs very big swell to get it going. I felt strangely itchy after bodyboarding here every time, maybe it’s the fiberglass in the water from the harbour. If it’s NW and everywhere is insanely big, then maybe this will be an option. The harbour wall is really fun and hollow, I’ve semi gotten a broken nose and got some mild concussion while bodyboarding it, watch out in a kayak - it’s shallow.

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Kalk Bay Reef - 34° 7'32.12"S  18°27'8.30"E

World class spot breaking on a shallow reef – so very hollow. Expert kayakers only. Getting in and out is going to a problem with fins, as the launch spot is off rocks. A very small take off zone and will probably be a bit crowded. Can be done, just show respect to the locals. When it’s big, stay away, unless you enjoy pain. Also, don’t get hit by the train running across the tracks. Decent sized parking lot, by Cape Town standards. Works on a SE wind which is very weird. The wind hits the cliffs behind it and comes back down to be offshore, bonus!

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Photo by Peter Lambert.  Kalk Bay76 copy

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Photo by Peter Lambert.  Kalk Bay Jordy Maree

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Karmers - 33°47'26.21"S  18°27'4.35"E

Also known as Kamer van 17. This is the spot just right of the rocks on the right side of Big Bay. One of my favourite kayaking waves, no doubt. It has a long left and a shorter right run, breaking on sand. If the spot next to the rocks is too busy, paddle further north to find similar waves. Parking is usually at Big Bay and there are showers there too. Works with some SE wind but then you will be joined by hoards of kiters, which is terrible. They will pick out every set wave and be on it for 500m already, before it comes into the impact zone. If you’re lucky you can pick off some waves. I’ve almost had a few fights here, not fun, but most are not very brave once on the beach. When there isn’t wind, and the swell is good, this wave is really lekker! 

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Adrian Tregoning on the left run. Photo by Louise Coney. Karmers_02 copy Karmers_03 copy Karmers_04 copy Karmers_05 copy Karmers_06 copy

Adrian Tregoning at Karmers on a big day. Last five photos by Niell Taylor. Karmers_07 copy

Adrian Tregoning on an average day. Photo by Mari Taylor. Karmers_G_EarthKarmers just to the north of Big Bay – on the other side of the rocks.


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Photo by Peter Lambert.

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Photography by: Adrian Tregoning, unless otherwise stated. A huge thanks to Peter Lambert for the use of his high quality photographs.
All Words by: Adrian Tregoning.