The world’s best cities for surfers: Cape Town
With Brendon Gibbens… From Stab issue 73: Words by Craig Jarvis | Photos by Alan van Gysen *** Table Mountain, flat-topped and standing sentinel over Cape Town city, is the first thing you’ll see from the window as your flight begins its descent. If the wind is south, you’ll bank over the Atlantic Ocean and get a glimpse […]
With Brendon Gibbens…
From Stab issue 73:
Words by Craig Jarvis | Photos by Alan van Gysen
Table Mountain, flat-topped and standing sentinel over Cape Town city, is the first thing you’ll see from the window as your flight begins its descent. If the wind is south, you’ll bank over the Atlantic Ocean and get a glimpse of Robben Island, the tiny penal colony that housed Nelson Mandela for three decades. If the wind is from the north, you’ll bank over False Bay, home to a very large population of very large white sharks. Look closely and you might see one of these behemoths, but probably not. You’ll probably just see lines of groomed swell moving in on the numerous reefs, beaches and points that populate the city with two oceans. Cape Town is a city of opposites. Icy barrels and warm-water beaches; freezing log-fire evenings and sweaty bikini dancing girls; swish highball clubs and skanky, dusty trance parties. Hard drugs and soft. Beers and fights. Beautiful foreign models surrounded by circles of friendly gay men. Big waves and small. Dungeons and Elands Bay, sex and violence. Cape Town is a big place with loads of moving parts and all sorts of surrounding areas. Brendon Gibbens comes from Cape Town but lives in the little surfing village of Kommetjie on the southern peninsula. When he’s at home, between his travels to Europe, Australia, and California, he flits between the two, between daytime surfs and nighttime fun. Often undercover and hanging with a tight assortment of people from different walks, Brendon knows another side to Cape Town.
Best place to drink: On the mountain in Kommetjie or at a pub called The Bulldog. There are so many spots in the Cape Town city centre and along the Atlantic, but my friends and I tend to head for the quieter spots when it’s all about drinking.
The clubs: There’s a club in town called The Waiting Room. It’s got a chilled bar vibe inside the club so it’s pretty cool. Loads of cool girls.
The main players around town: In a city like Cape Town there are so many heroes. A lot them tend to gravitate towards Camps Bay side. I usually don’t know anyone when I hit town.
Where to find Jordy: At Camps Bay, most likely hanging at Caprice. Jordy’s home is just around the corner.
Best breakfast: There’s the chain of coffee/breakfast joints called Cafe Sofia. Crazy prices – R25 for a quick brekkie of two rashers of bacon and two eggs and tea. That’s, like, two dollars Australian.
Coffee: I don’t drink that shit so I’m not a connoisseur by anyone’s standards. Most people head to Vida e Caffé for their fix.
Dinner joints: Funny thing is we all just go to the Spur (Steakranch chain) on Mondays when it’s two-for-one on burgers. We all drink a bunch of beer and smash a few burgers. Best value, good food.
Where to surf when it’s pumping: When it’s solid with good winds I head to The Dunes. Some of the best barrels in the world can be found down there. When it’s small and a bit funky I just surf in front of my house – a closed-out little barrel called Crons. I also surf at a spot called Misty Cliffs as it’s always uncrowded.
Sharks: I’m totally and utterly petrified. They’re the worst kind of fear for me and they terrify me. I’ve seen two sharks. The first was at Misty Cliffs and it was big and we could see it clearly. There have been quite a few other encounters down here but not all of them have been identified. There are plenty of sharks around Cape Town.
Best kept secret: The Dunes on the southerly cross-shore is a secret. It’s one of those waves that needs an offshore to barrel otherwise it’s nowhere. Or so everyone thinks. As soon as it goes southerly, everyone leaves, but the southerly is the best air-wind and it’s offshore enough to still throw some crazy barrels. The problem is that when it goes southerly it is so empty and feels so sharky.
Cheapest bar: There’s a bar called The Fisherman’s in Kommetjie. It’s pretty rough. It’s a sorry place, one of the most washed-out bars you can go to but it’s home, and I like going there with my friends.
Most expensive bar: Cape Town’s generally a pretty expensive place with some crazy prices. Caprice in Camps Bay is pretty swanky and Belugas is also pretty ritzy.
Where to get wasted and not kicked out: That would be pretty much anywhere in Kommetjie. The local community totally embraces that sort of behaviour and you’ll be in good company with plenty of support.
Where to find girls: Camps Bay again. There are so many beautiful girls in the day in bikinis and at night at all the little bars and restaurants along the front Cape Town has generally just got lots of girls everywhere you go but just not in Kommetjie.
Cougars: Camps Bay again. They’re everywhere.
It could be Australia, but it ain’t. Photo by Alan van Gysen.
What zone to avoid: Hope Street in the centre of town. There’s a club there called Evol, that’s Love backwards, and they play deep-cut ‘80s until way past two am but the streets right outside the club are sketchy and there are no taxis around late at night. You have to run through a park to the nearest petrol station to get food and a taxi home.
How to get punched: Being a fuckhead at any of the jorls (clubs). Get into one of the many jocks’ faces. I don’t really know as I’ve been avoiding that sort of thing my whole life.
How to buy dwelms (drugs): Simply ask any dude on Long Street. In that zone you can pretty much acquire any drugs that you want. You can spot the dudes a mile away if they have drugs and they want to sell.
The girls that you meet: Most of the girls I meet are usually foreigners. I hardly ever meet a girl from Cape Town. I reckon 80% of the girls I meet are European tourists and the other 20% are from anywhere in South Africa. Cape Town girls are rare. The Euros are so pretty.
The boys in Cape Town: Superficial. There’s just a common mentality of everyone trying to outdo each other.
Best pickup line to use: I’ve got nothing in this department. Nothing.
Pros and Cons: There are beautiful beaches and so much open space, all within close proximity to a city. There are so many hip places in the city and then there’s the Cape Point reserve with all of its natural beauty. Cape Town is popular and the best city in South Africa in my opinion. The only thing that sucks is that although it is a cultural centre, it is still very far away from California and Europe and Australia and they are such long-haul flights, which really suck. When I’m away I really miss home.
There used to be a WCT event or a WQS event in Cape Town most years. Now they’ve gone: I don’t really care.
The best time of year to have fun: December is by far the best time to have a good social time. There are loads of foreigners around the weather is good and there are loads of bustling parties and good vibes.
The best time of the year for waves: September and October are great months for surf. There is still loads of swell around, left over from winter, but the south-easter has started and the waves are getting nicely groomed.
Where to stay: As much as I have written off Camps Bay there are some insane accommodation options like boutique hotels and exclusive guesthouses in the area. The city is just a five-minute drive away over Kloof Nek.
How to get around: Hire a car. Cheap as. If you’re on the piss, then jump in a taxi.
Biggest parties: There are some crazy trance parties in the areas surrounding the city. Usually in a mountain somewhere or in a forest or something. Bunch of people dancing barefoot in the dust, usually just a safe haven for prolific drug users. Not for me.
Where to get a board: DVG. Dave Van Ginkel. He makes me sick boards and has helped me out big time. Custom orders via his website: dvgshapes.co.za. Plenty of surf shops, plenty of good deals. Boards are pretty cheap in South Africa, better to buy boards here.
Where to buy clothes: Plenty of thrift stores and stores for old folk that have surprisingly good retro kit. I know it’s so trendy to say this stuff but I didn’t have a clothing sponsor for a while so have been looking for the deals.
Where to get a haircut: Same again. So expensive. Cut it myself. Haircuts are a huge waster of money.
Where to buy a book: So bad. I don’t read books. My friends have claimed this secondhand bookstore on Long Street called Tommy’s Books.
Best Mexican food: To me Mexican food is such a foreign concept. There’s a top Mexican joint in Sea Point called El Burro.
How to avoid the cops: The cops on the whole in South Africa are a pushover. I mean, if you compare them to the cops in California or in Australia, you can literally get away with murder here, as bad as it sounds.
Where to go when you want to get out of town: Go west. The west coast is amazing. It goes forever and is relatively desolate. There are incredible waves up there, and it keeps on giving.
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