Cape Town - If you're in search of the very best surfing hotspots in South Africa, look no further.
Cape Town filmmaker and surfer Steven Michelsen, who was crowned the winner the inaugural Zag Shorts competition this year, gave Traveller24 insights into where the hottest waves in the country are.
In the Zag Shorts competition, Steve's short film 'Silence of Eyes' won for its 'relaxed, but powerful' interpretation of the ocean and surf life. The incredible film follows talented KZN north coast local, Shane Sykes, as he talks about the influence his childhood role-model, Julian Wilson, has had on his surfing.
Over some hi-action clips, Shane expresses his dream of making it onto the World Championship Tour and becoming a World Champion. "The structure of the film is unique, matching Shane's surfing style: relaxed, but powerful," Zag Shorts says.
You can check it out here: Surf's Up: Winning SA surfing short film will give you all the chills
This time, however, Traveller24 looked behind the camera to the filmmaker, and asked Steve where his favourite SA surf spots are.
These 10 spots, says Steve, are the most rad waves in SA:
10. Scottburgh main beach, KwaZulu-Natal
"Its simple and easy paddle allows the surfer to catch waves sometimes for up too 300-400 meters then run around the point and jump off the rocks, making the time surfing better than the time paddling," Steve says.
"There are amazing locals with plenty of experience to help around, if needs be, and it's one of the rare places on the coast that I feel safe in the water with shark nets."
SEE: Shark Spotters net Innovation Award for beach tourism
9. Elands Bay, Western Cape
"The unique West Coast might be the most inhospitable place on either of the SA coastlines, but the peeling left hander of Ebay is worth the journey itself. A few years back the mission to get to the tiny fishing village was itself somewhat of a ride , crossing bridges and rivers, with deep sand and 4x4 ruts. Today there is a tar road leading right up to point."
8. Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal
"This is some of the most picture perfect coastline we have in SA, the warm Indian Ocean tourist town is littered with waves, from Sunrise point to Surfers. You can get any type of wave you want in that little town, but know when the land breeze hits on chilly winters morning with the right tide and swell period your going to get really barrelled."
7. Bronze Beach, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
"There is just something amazing about Umhlanga," Steve says. "From a photography point of view Bronze Beach has a unique backdrop especially shooting from the water. Its very simple to find a peak to yourself and get lost in some warm fun tubes then grab a designer coffee or sushi right after your surf.
"But watch out for the lighting-bolt-locals - very easily identified with their lighting bolt tattoos," Steve warns.
6. New Pier, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
"This is the Hub is SA surfing," according to Steve. "It's the wave Jordy Smith, Beyrick de Vries and Slade Prestwich with various other top international pros call home, the sloped waves allow for high performance shredding and top class airs. PLUS, It's got easy access with jumping off the piers right into the take off zone."
5. Llandudno, Cape Town, Western Cape
"This is a tricky one," Steve says, "because actually its not a good wave, but my goodness, does it have beauty!
"Its post card like surroundings allow for next level images both on stills and video. I suggest keeping this one on the radar for when your skills can match the energy of the freezing Atlantic. It just happens to be my local break and near a dear to my heart."
4. Sunset Reef, Kommetjie, Western Cape
DANGER! "These waves are considered on par with waves like JAWS, Mavericks, and other famous big wave spots," Steve warns.
"If power is your game, this A-frame peak allows a gigantic adrenaline rush for both natural riders and goofy footers. It's most definitely out of bounds for anybody without a death wish."
3. Victoria Bay, Garden Route
This, Steve says, is his number one surf spot on a road trip through the Garden Route.
2. Jeffrey's Bay, Eastern Cape
This is typically always the number spot for South African surfers, but Steve says the location's popularity often makes it too crowded. "With egos getting thrown around like a rugby balls at a Springboks training camp, Jbay just doesn't have that one thing surfing is all about - peace."
"Having said that, Jbay is the most iconic wave in SA and arguably the most recognisable wave on the planet to any surfer," he admits. And the waves are crazy!
1. Dungeons, Hout Bay, Western Cape
"I have a love hate relationship with Dungeons," Steve says. "On a good day we're tighter than the ships tied up in Hout Bay harbour, but on a bad day she breaks bones, egos and boards.
This wave is by far the heaviest wave on the African continent, and a very select few have gotten to know her... You will pay the price for dancing with Dungeons. There is no second chance out once you're in there... don't attempt this unless your ready to meet your maker."
BONUS: Novelty Pick
SunCity's Valley of the Waves, North West Province
When people think of SunCity, the last thing they consider is surfing - it's in the middle of the country for heaven's sake! "But our very own wannabe Vegas has an Ace up its sleeve," Steve says.
"SunCity boasts one the most mechanically perfect wave pools on the planet!
"It works like this: Every 11 minutes, six fabricated stone lions standing at the back of the Valley of the Waves pool spit gushes of water for exactly 30 seconds. Thereafter the gates unleash what sounds like the worlds biggest toilet flush, and out comes a blue wall of perfectly engineered wave magic...
Regardless of how tacky it sounds, it works! The World Surf League has even hosted professional events in SunCity.
PS - If you're struggling to understand some of the words and/or phrases used here, check out The ultimate A-Z guide for learning Surfrican
What to read next on Traveller24:
- A South African traveller’s perspective: What surfing can teach you about life
- Surf's Up: Winning SA surfing short film will give you all the chills
- The ultimate A-Z guide for learning Surfrican