From Where You’d Rather Be: The World’s Best Beachbreaks – Durban, South Africa
Words by Tom Freed | Photos by Greg Ewing (Website / Facebook) Whenever someone utters the phrase “from where you’d rather be,” Stab’s collective mind’s eye immediately focuses on a sand-bottomed setup beneath a smiling sun. We’re talking beachbreaks. Trunks. Bath water. All the finer things! And, since we so adore such things, we’ve decided to […]
Whenever someone utters the phrase “from where you’d rather be,” Stab’s collective mind’s eye immediately focuses on a sand-bottomed setup beneath a smiling sun. We’re talking beachbreaks. Trunks. Bath water. All the finer things! And, since we so adore such things, we’ve decided to team up with our like-minded pals at Coronaextra.com.au to deliver you a new series: The World’s Best Beachbreaks.
We’ll be detailing, visually but also through written text, all our favourite sand setups from around the world. The requirements? Nothing but golden grains beneath, nothing but a warm orb above, trunk temperatures only, and a perfect setup to end the day with a Corona and lime.
No. 4: Durban, South Africa
Because succulent lobster dinners (with beer!) are under 20 bones. Because European production companies find it cheaper to shoot in SA than in Europe, so there’s an annual influx of super models hanging around town between shoots. Because of the jetties that sweep you right into the lineup. Because of the swell trains chugging up the coast from Cape Town that never really take time to rest. Because of warm, wind-smooched growers funneling in front of your hotel on the beach. Because…just, because. Indeed there are a lot of reasons why Durban certainly makes the cut, save sand-bottomed and warm, but have you ever met a South African surfer that you didn’t like? Aaaand there’s another “because.” Need more convincing? Take a look at the waves, charge that RT-to-Durban ticket to the game and verify the reasons for yourself.
New Pier in full swing. Where the party at?
Lemme break it down for ya:
Land in: Durban International Airport, South Africa
Then: Rent a car and drive 20 minutes north to North Beach
Stay: In “Town”, or hotels all along the beach such as The Holiday Inn which looks right down at New Pier and beaches beside it
Bring a: Couple shorties and a couple step-ups. Durban beachies can handle a sizeable swell, so have a board that likes some raw-ocean push
You’re forgiven for mistaking this for Indo.
What’s she like? A series of jetties (or piers) a few hundred yards apart with various soft-bottomed beauts from New Pier to North Beach to Bay of Plenty to Snake Park serving up predominantly long, hollow righthanders. With some rampy lefts for good measure. Extremely consistent swell, sub-tropical water temps and with jetties to jump off, you ain’t even getting’ yer pretty mop wet whilst paddling out. Holds form and breaks anywhere from 2-10-feet (the bigger the better, really) and the sand banks are pretty stable year-round. Tubes-galore with meaty-walls to do your best Jordy-hack upon. Water as lime-green as a freshly-rained field in the Tanzanian Serengeti. Lively beaches with babes sunning, conversing in that Saffa accent that makes a man’s knees go weak. Righthand peaks a stone’s throw from showers and uber-reasonable restaurants.
This really is Africa: Frankie Oberholzer and New Pier.
What really makes her tick? Storms. Specifically the big nasty ones that crash into Cape Town and sweep east up the coast into the Indian Ocean. It’s the never-ending swell story for South Africans allowing them to chase swells from Cape Town to Durban and all spots between in a matter of days. Fun, no? But Durban loves those East/Southeast swells of any size with a West/Southwest wind to doll them right up. On a higher tide at some of the breaks in Town, there’s a left bowl that breaks into the jetties, quite fun to flare on.
Other options in the area… The North Coast of Durban (‘bout a half hour…north) has got some great beachies like ‘QS Prime fave Ballito, a punchy, hollow A-frame. The South Coast, less than an hour away has got Cave Rock (a backdoory right slab) and a few other fun right pointbreaks. And then there’s always J-Bay a quick flight away which should be on any warm-blooded wave-rider’s bucket list. (Yes, even a goofyfooter’s.)
For a good time… Joe Cools is a fun bar/club smack-dab in front of North Beach. Then a 10 minute cabbie from there and you’re on Florida St. which has a plethora of swanky restaurants and bars. Spiga D’Ouro for good eats, Taco Zulu for a nice place to mingle. But to answer your question, for a good time… sample a club called Wonderland — magnifique!
It even looks tropical!
At all costs, don’t get too cocky painting the town red. Like, don’t withdraw money on an empty street at night. That’s just asking for a stick-up, and/or the ‘ole ATM card-scam trick. Be aware of your surroundings, crime does exist and many times carries a gun. Between June and August is the Sardine Run where they lift the shark nets, but that doesn’t really affect Durban Town as the nets are quite outside of the breaks. North and South Coast, however, is a lil different story.
OK, I hear ya, but what’s a local say? Jordy Smith says, “The best place for waves, warm water and a hangout zone is Durban, I’d say. North Beach, New Pier, the Bay of Plenty — you can just hang out there all day in the wintertime. It’s all so accessible there too, like you can park right there in front of the waves and there’s showers, restaurants and the even the pier you can run and jump off of, it’s so easy. You can trunk it all year round pretty much, maybe a vest if ya need. My favorite spot would be New Pier for sure though. The 4-8 foot range is the best for it, and it kinda breaks like a right point, but over sand. It’s just one of those waves that funnels down the line that’s good for turns, airs, getting really barreled — it offers everything when it’s good. You don’t have to wait for a bunch of things to come together to make it work, the sand is pretty much similar all year round and then some of the bigger swells just groom it even further. You can pretty much surf New Pier everyday too. You just want that land-breeze, blowing West- Southwest the day after a big East-Southeast swell…”
You can thank these beachies for the polished – and agressive – air game that Jordy Smith flexes.
Get at beachbreak number 12, Ehukai Beach Park, right here.
Get at beachbreak number 11, Bocas del Toro, right here.
Get at beachbreak number 10, Fernando De Noronha, right here.
Get at beachbreak number 9, Outer Banks, right here.
Get at beachbreak number 8, SW Beachies, right here.
Get at beachbreak number 7, Black’s, right here.
Get at beachbreak number 6, Peniche, right here.
Get at Beachbreak number 5, Spot X, right here.
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