Surfing in Muizenberg is a local favourite pasttime and this beginner-friendly beach is conveniently located a short drive from Cape Town! After a few days’ worth of lessons, I felt quite comfortable surfing on my own. A combination of picking the right surf school and instructor as well as the grit to keep on going definitely helped!
So, if you have been thinking that surfing is for people who know exactly what they’re doing, or if you’ve been counting yourself out before even trying it, Cape Town will change your mind! Head over to Muizenberg Beach and get ready to “get stoked!”
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Surfing in Muizenberg
Surfing is not a sport that is to master when you’ve grown up in a city that’s far away from the water as you can possibly imagine. It’s a good idea to look into getting surfing lessons at one of the many Muizenburg surf schools (there’s even mobile ones which takes you to the best surf spots around Cape Town!) so you can be confident and make the most of your trip. There are reputable surf shops that offer lessons around the aptly named Surfers Corner, all offer very competitive rates, and having tried 2 of them, I can say that there’s no single bad ones you should avoid.
I’ve found that since South Africans are generally really passionate about surfing, the quality of their teaching reflects that. With a laid back vibe, an informative private lesson, and very encouraging instructors and locals, it’s guaranteed that you will catch at least 1 wave while you’re here.
I knew that I wanted to spend as much time surfing, so I booked a 4-lesson package for R990 (CAD$100) with Surf Emporium. Many other schools also offer a 4-for-3 deal, where you book 4 lessons, but pay for 3. Pricing depends on the schools so check them out in advance.
Many accommodations also offer surf packages where they offer a combined rate for both accommodation and cost of lessons (Sometimes including downtime activities like yoga). A great way to save if you’re looking to get bookings done in one go! Did I mention that the surf schools typically have a coffee shop / restaurant as well? Delicious coffee and poke bowl to nourish your body after a day of surfing is the ultimate indulgence!
Note that South African waters are cold – pretty much to the point of freezing, in the winter and summer. You will need to have a wet suit and usually the cost of rental (board and wetsuit) and 90 minute lesson are included in the price which ranges from R280 – 350 (CAD$30-35).
What are the Muizenberg Surfing Lessons Like?
The surf lessons lasts about 90 minutes, including theory. Ninety minutes can be either a long time or a very short time, even for beginners. I think it’s the right amount of time to understand the technique and practice A LOT in the water.
What I appreciate about the lessons I’ve taken, is the fact that we don’t spend a lot of time at the beach, “learning the theories” because ultimately, the best way to learn is practicing on the water, falling and making tons of mistakes. My instructors (I had 3 in four days, because I wanted to try different techniques) spent less time (maybe around 5 minutes) at the beach, going over safety information including etiquette, safety, and shark spotting, as well as warming up before we went into the water.
Once in the water, you just keep going until you stand up. The good news is that the instructors are very engaged, and will give you techniques and tips as you go. I’ve found that I’ve always gotten up just fine when I’m with my instructor.
It also seems like the instructors are having fun, because they do really want to see you succeed. It may not mean a lot to many people, but my instructors will always say, 3 more “GOOD” waves (you standing up), and not just 3 waves which could be 3 wipe-outs. I think it’s incredibly valuable and such a great experience to know that they are rooting for you to succeed and not rushing to their next lessons which is often the case. Maybe because I’ve gone in the winter time, and there are fewer guests/students, I’ve just really enjoyed the vibe and how the lessons are paced.
The instructors are highly qualified, typically having years of experience with some who actually surf for South Africa! I worked my way through 3 instructors, not because they gave up on me (That would be hilarious) but due to timing (I wanted to get in the water earlier (9am) so that I can rent the boards for the day to practice (or as I say it, make all the mistakes before my next lesson). I also didn’t find the right fit with the first 2 instructors and felt more comfortable with the techniques that my 3rd instructor showed me (he also happens to be the most experienced, and thus more in demand instructor).
Muizenberg Surfing – Is Muizenberg a Surfers’ Haven?
Know that you will fall in the water. A lot. You will make mistakes. A lot. You will feel frustrated. A lot. You will think you got 1 technique down, and then adding another element (i.e. Paddling) and you wipe out. The cycle of frustration can feel never-ending and I’ve been told that it’s mind over matter. And everyone’s been at your stage before.
I’m not speaking as someone who suddenly surf like a pro after 4 days. I got better on Day 3 (out of 4) and killed it on Day 4, managing to stand up with my instructor, and at least once by myself. It takes time, and lots of practice. I was intimidated because it feels like there are tons of people younger than me, and more fit than me, and more experienced than me (which were all true) but they are in no way judging you or your lack of ability to stand up.
In fact, I’ve had more than a few cheerleaders, a few who would point out which waves to take, and a few that really go out of their way to say “Good for you for being in the water by yourself on day 3” Everyone is so encouraging, despite me constantly feeling totally out of my elements (which I was).
I think the reason that I managed to hang out for so long, and kept going was because I was having fun, and also because it would be another full year before I come back to practice surfing here. I might as well do my best, keep trying – after all, it was only for 4 days that I got to do this.
Everyone has different ways and techniques to catch a wave, so while it’s good to listen to the basics from your instructors, you should try to make it your own. Catch the wave when it feels right, and stand up when you think is right.
My instructor say that surfing should be like water therapy, and that you should feel relaxed in every step of the way. That helps distribute the weight better, stand up more successfully, and keep you in good spirit. I definitely had tons of fun in the 4 days that I was in Muizenberg that I changed the end of my trip so that I would be back here instead of the city.
What to Do in Muizenberg?
The good news is that being based out of Muizenberg means you are incredibly close to a number of local attractions including Simon’s Town (where the SA Navy and Boulders Beach with the jackass penguins SA Is known for), Kalk Bay, and Cape of Good Hope. This means what would normally be a full-day trip from Cape Town, can be shortened (depending on your destination) to a half-day.
Within the city itself, I don’t know if there’s much to do aside from learning how to surf, and the new “it” sport, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) which although looks similar to what I’ve done before in Toronto, is so much more interesting and complex when done on waves. There are a few good restaurants here, but if you’re looking for city nightlife, and other entertainment options, you will find that Muizenberg is slightly limited in that.
There are a few hostels in the area that can arrange tours for you. To give you a few ideas, there are the Cape Peninsula Tour, Cape Agulhas Tour (where the Indian and Atlantic Ocean meet), swimming or snorkelling with seals, and Great White Shark tour. All within reason to what you would find in Cape Town.
Where to Next?
- Kruger National Park is the premiere spot for safari in South Africa and here’s how you can do an African safari on a budget!
- If you’re looking to explore all of South Africa, consider taking the BazBus – a hop-on-hop-off cross country bus!
- Here’s how much it costs to go to South Africa as a solo traveller
- Stay connected and get a SIM Card and consider taking rideshare like Uber/Bolt to get around
- Don’t forget to plan a day for hiking Table Mountain and Lion’s Head!