Surfing in KwaZulu-Natal. Surfing in KwaZulu-Natal.

Summer in KwaZulu-Natal is hot and the water appealing, but onshore northeasterly winds tend to make it choppy unless you get there at first light. Waves are generally smaller, less powerful and inconsistent during the warmer months, whereas winter brings groundswell, glassy conditions and longer rides.

Did you know?

The first South African Surfing Championships took place in Durban in 1966.

Broadly speaking, the KwaZulu-Natal coastline is divided into three zones: Durban, North Coast and South Coast.

Durban, or Surf City, has The Golden Mile of perfect beaches tucked between a series of piers. These are all consistent beach breaks capable of holding sizeable winter swell and summer cyclone swell. The most popular of these are: Bay of Plenty; New Pier; North Beach; Wedge and Dairy. Further south towards the harbour, uShaka and Vetches only pick up when massive southerly winter swells wrap around the harbour and onto the reef.

South of the harbour, bluff beaches meeting the oncoming swell provide solid surfing conditions at the likes of Ansteys, Cave Rock, Brighton and Garvies. Of these, Cave Rock offers the biggest, best waves, but, with a reef bottom, only experienced surfers should apply.

The South Coast, with its many reef and beach breaks, holds the promise of perfect hollow waves, especially if you’re in the water early before the wind picks up in summer, or in winter when the swell is big and conditions generally glassy.

The first South Coast beach, Amanzimtoti, is a 20 minute drive from Durban, followed by Warner Beach. Further south, Scottburgh’s consistent right point break means there’s always someone in the water, while Happy Wanderers’ right reef break is empty until conditions are perfect. An hour further south are a number of good reef-to-sand surf spots: Margate; Uvongo; St Michaels; Umzumbe and Lucien.

North of Durban, surf spots worth a visit include Ballito, Umdloti, Westbrook, Umhlanga, Salt Rock, Sodwana Bay and Richards Bay. Of these, Ballito and Umhlanga have the best waves and enjoy a vibrant beach culture, with oodles of accommodation, while Westbrook features a long right when the swell is not too big.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0)31 366 7500
Email: kznta@iafrica.com

Tours to do

Visit the Midlands Meander, under two hours’ drive inland, where more than 200 arts and crafts outlets welcome travellers.

Get around

To best explore the top surf spots in KwaZulu-Natal, hire a car with roof racks for your boards.

Where to stay

Durban, the North Coast and South Coast are vacation heaven, with hundreds of B&Bs, self-catering establishments, holiday apartments and guest houses. Only the bigger towns, like Umhlanga, Durban, Scottburgh and Margate, offer big hotels.

Best buys

If you don’t have a surfboard, you can hire one at all holiday spots and surf shops along the coast. There are some notable surfboard shapers in and around Durban, if you’re in the market for a new board.