At certain times of the year, a mammoth wave builds up at a place called Dungeons off the coast near Hout Bay in Cape Town. This is a signal for the big wave surfers to gather to tackle a wave that is considered epic in surfing circles.

This isn’t surfing it’s an ocean battleground, and that wave’s not a super tube it’s a liquid apocalypse, waiting to happen at Dungeons on Sentinel Reef, Hout Bay in the Western Cape.

The build-up is monumental, days spent tracking it by satellite, watching shifting weather patterns, and if the storm swell makes landfall, you have the makings of a Big Wave, a rolling mass of wind-born energy that grows exponentially stronger, travelling at 30 to 50 knots, before it malevolently curls up over itself and detonates, spilling the heart of the ocean’s power.

Until recently, it was the location of a 24 invite-only, professional Big Wave surfing competition known as Red Bull Big Wave Africa. While this competition has since been suspended, big wave surfers from around the world still gather when the news gets out that weather conditions are perfect for Dungeons to start pumping.

This is certainly not for the average surfer as it's a tow-in venue only (meaning surfers have to be towed into the area by jet-skis) and if you want to see the action, you'll have to hitch a ride on one of the charter boats or hike up the peak known as The Sentinel where you can get a bird's eye view of the action.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Watch the local media for news of Dungeons or check online surf reports.

How to get here

Dungeons is not really visible from the shore so anyone wishing to see big wave surfers in action will have to get into a boat.

Where to stay

Cape Town has ample accommodation and many friendly surf spots.

What's happening

The big wave at Dungeons depends on prevailing weather conditions but usually these develop in late winter when large cold fronts move through.