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October 23, 2014

Full disclosure: I’m not a surfer. In fact, I can barely swim. But Cape Town’s beaches have long been a big draw for world-class surfers and amateurs alike, thanks to their huge Atlantic swells, courtesy of the infamous winds we get down here. For consistent six-to-eight-foot waves, the best time to come for a surfing adventure is during the winter months, June through August. I’ve done my research and polled some locals to come up with this list of Cape Town’s five best surfing areas. Some, like Long Beach, are popular with beginners; the mammoth offshore swells of Dungeons, meanwhile, are strictly for seasoned surfers. The bohemian beach burg of Muizenberg, on the other hand, is a South African icon, great for both surfers and those who prefer to watch them (like me!). A word of caution, though: the waters around Cape Town are notorious for great white sharks. The chances of encountering one are generally low—thanks in part to teams of “shark spotters” who sound alarms whenever there’s a sighting—but still: hang ten at your own risk.

Muizenberg

Thanks to its rainbow-colored beach shacks, Muizenberg is one of South Africa's most recognizable beaches. It's also one of its best for surfing, and the relatively gentle waves make it a great spot for beginners. Be prepared for crowds, though.

 

Scarborough Beach

Scarborough might be one of Cape Town's hidden gems: a quiet beach town that seems to only be favored by in-the-know locals.  That makes for plenty of elbow room on the beach, and the waves are perfect for intermediate-level surfers.

Dungeons

Amateurs, steer clear: this one's for the pros. This offshore reef off Hours Bay is known for monster waves—and I mean monster. We're talking as high as 60 feet, when conditions are right. 

Long Beach

If you're short on time and want to be guaranteed some good breaks, head to Noordhoek. Just try to come here on a weekday, if you can. Consistent waves mean Long Beach is super-crowded with surfers on weekends.

Llandudno

This secluded strip of sand is my favorite beach in Cape Town, sheltered from view by soaring boulders. But tread carefully: A tendency toward strong riptides means that beginners should probably give this one a pass.

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