Surfing road trip across the Garden Route

Cape Town and the Western Cape is a surfer’s paradise. Offering surfers great conditions in every direction, virtually all year round, the Western Cape has point breaks and beach breaks, even giant reef breaks. It would take month to explore the options available to surfers on a road trip. Take a look at this five-day journey down the Garden Route to get you started and for the non-surfers in the family, never fear, there is plenty to keep you occupied.

Day One – Cape Town

Named by Surf Magazine as one of the world’s best surf cities, Cape Town is your first port of call on this trip. In truth, one day may not be enough with numerous spots around this great surf city to explore. There is something for everybody on this portion of the trip – from beginners to experts – with Muizenberg a great beach to learn the tricks of the trade with a number of surf schools lining the beachfront and beaches like Llandudno and Dungeons great options for the more experienced surfers.

For the non-surfers: 

Cape Town is a city that caters to all sports lovers, with so many things to choose from. The Mother City has some of the best golf courses in the world, boasting world class facilities, and is also home to two of the most iconic sports stadiums on the globe – Newlands Rugby Stadium and Newlands Cricket Stadium – where the provincial and national teams are often in action. The annual IRB Sevens Series is held at the Cape Town Stadium in December and it has been hugely successful. 

Outside of sport:

A foodie city and cultural hot spot, there is plenty to offer visitors outside of the sporting realm. Cape Town and surrounds boasts some of the best restaurants in the country, with the likes of The Test Kitchen and Chef’s Warehouse frequently topping the awards, while the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in the Silo District of the V&A Waterfront has firmly established the city a cultural heavy-hitter.

Day Two – Stilbaai

Next up is the famous surf town of Stilbaai, a favourite amongst local surfers and visitors alike. This awesome town on the Garden Route has something for all levels of skill, with rookies enjoying the softer breaks of Lappiebaai, advanced surfers preferring the rocky Morris Point Cape above the Stilbaai Harbour and pros paddling out at the rough – yet spectacular – coast of Jongestontain. 

For the non-surfers: 

Stilbaai is rugged beach town and like all the towns along this beautiful stretch of coast, it is incredibly beautiful and ripe for exploration. Hike or cycle along the coast from Stilbaai to Jongensfontein and enjoy the incredible views or take a walk in one of the three nature reserves: Pauline Bohnen, Geelkrans and Skulpiesbaai. You can also canoe, kayak or get some fishing done on the Goukou River if watersports is more in line. Stilbaai also has a magic nine-hole golf course with incredible ocean views from every tee.

Outside of sport: 

Have a picnic or simply take a stroll down the gorgeous main beach, Lappiesbaai, which stretches for kilometres, visit the ancient fishing traps that are visible at low tide and were built by the Khoi-San around 3000 years ago or explore the historic buildings, the Palinggat homestead, that houses the tourism office, and Jagerbosch. 

Day Three - Mossel Bay

With those in the know, Mossel Bay is right up there with Jeffrey’s Bay and Outer Pool is arguably the town’s most famous break. The town, which sits at the beginning of the Garden Route, is a great surf spot for old hands and those starting out, while there are a number of surf school so take advantage of for those in the family who have yet to give it a go. Other spots to explore include Inner Pool, Mystery Reef and Ding Dang.

For the non-surfers:

Pinnacle Point Beach and Golf Resort is home to one of the country’s best golf resorts, so while the surfers in your group explore the breaks, you can explore the fairways and greens. The St Blaize Hiking trail is a long, but not too challenging, hiking trail with incredible views of the surrounding area, including the lighthouse and cave, and the local flora and fauna.

Outside of sport: 

Discover the Point of Human Origins at the Pinnacle Point Caves with Dr Peter Nilssen. Providing the earliest evidence for modern human behavior, this is an experience not to be missed. Want to spot some game? Spot the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra and Black Harrier as they roam freely with Big Five game. Situated just 25kms outside Mossel Bay, Gondwana offers an authentic African game experience.

Day Four - Victoria Bay

Next up is the cosy Victoria Bay – or Vic Bay as it’s known to the locals – just outside of George. This great surf spot is classic point break with an inside and outside section. The water here is also a lot warmer than Cape Town, so you may be able to brave it with a shorty – paddle out via the beach or jump off from the tidal pool / rocks at the end of the promenade. 

Outside of surfing:

If you’re more in the pitch of the green than the break of the surf, you’re in luck, with George boasting some truly fantastic golf courses. Fancourt is considered one of South Africa’s best courses – the facilities are world class and include a warm-up and practice area, while George Golf Club is also a fantastic course, albeit not quite as exclusive as the Fancourt experience. Cycling is also a big deal in George with more than 1000km of MTB trails ready to be explored. George is also situated on the Cross Cape Cycle route – a recently launched route running from Plettenberg Bay to Stellenbosch.

Outside of sport:

Looking for some family fun? Lose yourself in the largest permanent maze in the Southern Hemisphere at Red Berry Farm near George. Offering a wide range of kid’s activities from pony rides, bumper boards, bubble ball, paddle boats and cherry picking. Another fantastic family experience is the Outeniqua Power Van, which explores the beauty of the Outeniqua Mountains. This unique railway journey runs from the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George, travels upwards through six tunnels, natural forests and fynbos and culminates with epic views of the valley from the summit. The return trip includes a picnic about halfway down the track and ends back at the museum.

Day Five - Nature’s Valley

End your trip in the gorgeous, and aptly named, Nature’s Valley – just 32 minutes outside of Plettenberg Bay. With beautiful scenery and surfing conditions offering up beach break tubes, it is an epic location to finish your surfing journey along the Garden Route. Great, and uncrowded waves, and one of the most beautiful places on earth. Magic.

Outside of surfing:

For something quite unique, take a dip with the beautiful spotted gully sharks that gather in large groups during the summer months in the Nature’s Valley gully. As you would expect in an area with such a name, there are some wonderful hikes in Nature’s Valley with superb views wrapped in forest, fynbos and coastal settings. Spot a dolphin from ‘the point’ – a short but lovely hike – or keep an eye out for sea otters, bush pigs and even some leopard tracks. Nature’s Valley estuary is a great spot for fishing – beautiful, safe and without the worry of waves hitting the rocks. Perfect for kids.  

Outside of sport:

You find yourself in paradise, what better activities than exploring this piece of heaven. This is the perfect place for bird watching with the Afromontane Forest surrounding the valley, the boardwalk along the Groot River Trail and the path down to the pump house are the best spots. The valley is also a hot spot for orchids and there are a number of varieties to explore in the valley. Finally, sunsets here are beyond amazing. Take a picnic basket down to the beach, relax and enjoy the simplicity of Mother Nature. 

This awesome town on the Garden Route has something for all levels of skill, with rookies enjoying the softer breaks of Lappiebaai, advanced surfers preferring the rocky Morris Point Cape above the Stilbaai Harbour and pros paddling out at the rough – yet spectacular – coast of Jongestontain. 

Pack your bags, and your surfboard, it's time to explore the breaks along the Garden Route.