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IIf you’re looking to get into the water to hitch a ride on some of the most spectacular waves the world has ever seen, there’s no better spot to do it than at Jefferys Bay in the Eastern Cape province.
Discovered by longboarders during the early 1960s, Jefferys Bay, or J-Bay as we like to call it, has the kind of waves that attract surfers from around the world. It’s known among international surfers as having some of the best waves in the world.
Halfway between the Gamtoos and Krom rivers, J-Bay stretches from Cape Recife in the east to Cape St Francis in the west.
Although it’s technically a fishing village, what makes J-Bay special is that a wave can run for up to 800m, offering surfers an unbeatable and everlasting ride.
J-Bay features a number of surf breaks that harness the approaching swell as it meets the offshore reef. The most famous of these is Supertubes, or “Supers”, where, on good days, a 4ft to 8ft wave runs from the point along the reef and includes a classic barrelling section before closing out at a spot called Impossibles.
Further down the point lies Tubes, a barrelling 4ft to 5ft wave with a short, intense, fun ride that’s best on a southerly or south-westerly swell.
Point is the original wave ridden by the long boarders in the 1960s. Capable of handling a large swell, it promises heavy take-offs followed by a slow wall that’s ideal for carves, cutbacks and the odd barrel. It's a good place to get used to J-Bay on your first visit, and the wave is ideal in the 3ft to 8ft range.
If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, you can head over to Albatross, a little out-of-town spot that's best on a north-westerly wind at low tide.
The topmost section of Supers features left and right breaks at Boneyards and is favoured by locals. The spot earned its name because it breaks on a shallow reef.
If you’re looking for more unpredictable and heavy conditions, then head over to Magnatubes, which work on a north-westerly wind at high tide and results in 3ft to 5ft power surges.
If you’re more on the mellow side, Kitchen Window, or “Kitchens”, fires on the mid-tide, offering a fun wave away from the busier spots.
Waves in J-Bay range from 3ft to 10ft, while 4ft to 8ft waves are more common. It’s advisable to bring 2 boards: a 6"0' to 6"6' for the smaller waves, and a 6"10' to 7"6' for the big stuff. Better yet, order a custom board, which will be waiting for you on arrival.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Jeffreys Bay Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)42 293 2923
How to get here
Fly from Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, where you can organise a transfer or rental car.
Best time to visit
June to August is big-wave season in Jeffreys Bay, but longer seasons have run from April/May through to September. Expect crowds.
Things to do
There are excellent fishing spots where kob, garrick, grunter and steenbras can be caught. Three nature reserves – Seekoei, Kabeljous and Noorsekloof – offer penguin rehabilitation, birdwatching and hiking opportunities. Sandboarding is also available in the area.
Tours to do
Hiking tours along the Tsitsikamma Trail, Fourcade Trail or the Baviaanskloof are recommended.
Car rentals are available at Port Elizabeth Airport.
Length of stay
Since ocean conditions can be fickle, it's advisable to book at least a week at J-Bay to experience everything that this surfers' paradise has to offer.
What to pack
A 3mm wetsuit will keep out the chill during winter, but 4mm suits are also sold locally. Booties are a good idea because the rocks at the paddle-out point are sharp.
Where to stay
J-Bay is geared for surfers, with guest houses, backpackers, B&Bs, surf lodges and holiday apartments available on every street in the town. It's advisable to book in advance if you plan to visit during peak time in July.
What to eat
Try the calamari, a seafood delicacy sold at many of the local restaurants.
There’s a thriving craft industry, surf-wear outlets, surfboard manufacturers, leather goods stores and shell craft shops. Leashes, wax, wetsuits, board shorts and hoodies are available from top surf outlets in town.