If you’re a surfer, you’ve heard about the curls at Jeffreys Bay, or “J-Bay” as it’s know to anyone who has taken even the slightest interest in the sport. Mention Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, and watch their eyes light up with excitement as they know J-Bay offers some of the most consistent waves on the planet. And isn’t that just the kind of water you’ve been dreaming about? But what about all the sharks we’ve heard about off these shores? More on that in a bit.
South Africa knows surfing. Located some 600 Km (375 mi) west of Cape Town, in Eastern Cape Province, J-Bay is near some of South Africa’s wildest coastline. Inland is some of Africa’s most spectacular rainforest, complete with beautiful animals. And yes, it’s getting more popular as the days go by but still you’ll find a enough water, enough room and enough open air for you to make your mark.
Not long ago this was a sleepy town, but now J-Bay sports round-the-clock development with low-rise apartments (you could live and surf here), beachside resorts, and dozens of cafes. Ask any local, though, and they’ll tell you J-Bay is a surf town. Ah yes, the carefree world of surfers. Well, they’d like you to think that but we found most resident surfers of Jeffrey’s Bay held a day job or two that afforded them the required cash to make surfing just that more fun. In fact, an old store owner back in 1849, about the time of the California Gold Rush, gave Jeffreys Bay its name. During the 60’s and 70’s, love and peace brother – it was a crazy hippie town with everything from local sleep houses to corner markets with trinkets and baubles.
Relaxed and friendly, even the rich and famous want a piece of the action. Along the coast you will spot some of best mansions to grace a beach. The beauty continues all the way down to the break at Cape St. Francis, immortalized by the 1960’s movie “Endless Summer“.
To get to Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, fly or bus into Cape Town, then get another bus or hire a car or mini-bus. Remember, it’s 600 Km.
And if you want to see the pros in action, come in July during the world famous Billabong Pro. It’s held at “Supertubes” beach. The top pros have called Supertubes the most perfect and predictable wave in the world.
But the tournament was once delayed due to sharks in the area. Because of the warm water from the Indian Ocean, sharks are attracted here. But locals say the sharks main hang out is at Nahoon Reef, some 400km down the cost.
Waves can get pretty big – sometimes up to 3 meters (10 ft), however, Jeffreys Bay is known for being safe. But that combination together and you just must make a trip here during your lifetime. There are surf shops that plan trips and many die hard surfers go as part of a pilgrimage; join them – it’s that good.
Best time to go in between the end of May and the end of August. This is perfect for surfers who surf the North Shore, Hawaii, or Tahiti, to get in some waves year-round. Many are making J-Bay a summer vacation destination because there is much to do around the Jeffreys Bay area.
The beaches with the best breaks are Boneyards, Kitchen Windows, Magnatubes, Phantoms, and the Albatross. Believe it or not, there are beaches that can provide you with a ride as long as three minutes. Keep your eye on that wave.
Now some say that KwaZulu, Natal’s Durban – with its year-round warm weather and water beats Jeffrey’s Bay – but don’t tell that to a local.
And when you go, make sure you compare your hotel rates. Surfers are always looking for ways to save a buck and the best way is to be smart before you even leave on your trip. Head over to HotelTravel.com and check on Port Elizabeth Hotels for the best rates in the area.
Our thanks to local surfer Sven Herselman of East London for help with this article.