Road Trip! Surfing My Way Through South Africa

Surfing South Africa

Surfing in South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

I love to surf, but I’m not very good at it. So I’m spending the next 6 weeks surfing South Africa’s best waves with professional instructors.

Yes, you read that correctly. An epic surfing road trip from Cape Town to Durban, with instruction from some former pro surfers. Sounds like a dream adventure travel vacation, right?

That’s what I thought.

I’ll be heading out on a multi-week South African Road Trip to experience legendary surfing conditions and locations that South Africa is well known for.

Surfing South Africa

Where will I be surfing? The adventure starts in Cape Town and I’ll slowly work my way up the East coast to Durban over 4 weeks, stopping at all the best surf spots along the journey.

Cape Town (Muizenberg Beach)

Plettenburg Bay

Jeffrey’s Bay

Coffee Bay

Durban (Anstey’s Beach)

Surf Team South Africa

Surfing Friends

Volunteer Projects

My journey won’t just be about getting better at surfing though. We’ll also dedicate time to local community projects throughout the trip. Like organizing football matches on the beach for township kids, teaching surfing lessons, and more.

It’s another aspect of this adventure that I’m really looking forward to.

Muizenberg Cape Town South Africa

Muizenberg Beach, Our First Stop

Surf Vacation Packing List

Did I mention that July is winter in South Africa? The Drakensburg mountains were covered with snow on my flight in! My travel gear for this adventure will be slightly different than my usual kit.

4/3 Wetsuit

The water in South Africa isn’t tropical, and I need a proper wetsuit (4mm chest, 3mm arms/legs). Luckily I found a local company that has a factory in Cape Town. I snagged a brand new, custom fit, 4/3 wetsuit direct from the Coral Wetsuits factory store for only $126!

50+ Sunscreen

My Irish skin doesn’t tan well, so plenty of strong waterproof sunscreen is a must. Maybe some Zinc for the nose too. I’ll be putting in a lot of wave time under the hot sun each week.

First Aid Kit

Surfing can be a rough sport. Getting slammed into the rocks by a wave will leave a mark or two. That’s why it’s important to have a first aid kit for the inevitable cuts & scrapes.

Warm Clothes

Despite it being winter here, air temperatures are between 50° – 70°F (11° – 21°C). So it’s really not that bad. However early mornings and late nights on the beach will require warm & comfortable clothing. After a 3 hour session surfing in cold water, warm clothes are exactly what you need.

GoPro Camera & Accessories

I’ve written a whole post about my favorite GoPro accessories for travel, but wanted to test out some new stuff on this surf trip. So I picked up a few dedicated surf mounts, replaced my underwater housing with the blackout version, and bought GoPro’s new adjustable gooseneck/hand-grip.

Hoping to capture some great surfing footage & photos to share with you.


I’m normally accustomed to surfing 9 foot longboards, but I’d like to move down to a shorter board. It will certainly be a challenge. Before I get my hands on one though, I’ll use longer boards while slowly working my way down to shorter ones as I become more proficient.

Special Surprises

Of course there is much more to South Africa than surfing. If you love adventure travel, this amazing country has a lot to offer. That’s why we’ll be embarking on other activities as well.

Follow Along!

You can follow my surfing adventures in real time on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Instagram.

What About Sharks?!

I’ll punch them in the nose.


Hi, I'm Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for over 5 years. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel more with crazy stories, photography, and useful tips from my travel adventures. Join thousands who receive exclusive email updates and click the green button below...

Comments & Questions


  1. Nathalie Egerton
    May 30, 2016

    Would love to get to a level of surfing where I can do things like this! This blog post was super easy to read and well-laid out. I strongly identify with the sunscreen tip.. burning in 5 seconds flat and having skin with the pigmentation of a jellyfish isn’t that fun.

    Good advice for dealing with sharks too, made me laugh!

  2. Derek
    August 5, 2014

    What an adventure! Can’t wait to see the pics… especially those showing fist-on-shark-nose action.

  3. Matthew Karsten
    July 17, 2014

    Surfing is one of those sports that requires some lessons (and a lot of practice) to really get the hang of it. I’m happy to finally get some proper instruction, from former pros no less!

  4. Bryan Richards
    July 14, 2014

    I look forward to following your journey through South Africa. I’ll be taking notes for my own in October. Well, maybe not on the surfing though…

    • Matthew Karsten
      July 17, 2014

      Why not Bryan? The surfing here is awesome, and Cape Town is a great place to learn.

      • Bryan Richards
        July 18, 2014

        I don’t think surfing is my thing. I have balance issues from multiple eye surgeries. I’d love to try, but know my limitations.

  5. The World on my Necklace
    July 13, 2014

    Wow sounds like fun! I have driven that route myself but we didn’t have nearly as much time as you. South Africa certainly has some amazing beaches and I am looking forward to being back there this summer

    • Matthew Karsten
      July 17, 2014

      I hear South Africa’s waves in the winter are amazing. We’re still in Cape Town now, but are leaving to start heading North next week!

  6. Jessie Festa
    July 13, 2014

    Oh, this sounds like a lot of fun! I’ll definitely be following along. I tried surfing once in Australia and I was terrible, but it was a lot of fun anyway. Have an amazing trip!

  7. baseballmh1012
    July 12, 2014

    What I wouldn’t give to be 35 years younger and tag along! I am very #Jealous amigo. Have fun and be careful. I know you won’t, but just had to say that.
    Mike (Nomadic Texan)


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