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Surfing in East London

East London and the area immediately around the city are characterised by long stretches of beach and several river mouths.

This makes for a wide choice of beach and river mouth surf breaks, as well as an excellent reef break at Nahoon for the more experienced surfer, and a gentler sand break off Nahoon Corner that is suitable for everyone and a great place to learn to surf.

It would be advisable to chat to a local about the best beaches and bays to head to, depending on the time of year, swell, wind strength and direction. A good source of information would be somebody at the Sugar Shack surf backpackers on Eastern Beach in town.

Water temperatures can drop quite low in the Winter months – at least a 2/2 wetsuit would be required, and a 4/3 in mid-winter.

In the warmer Summer months, water temperatures can reach 24 degrees, so pack a pair of boardies. Summer months are characterised by onshore Easterlies so once again, ask a local for advice on where to find a suitable break depending on your level of experience.

You are also likely to be sharing the water with sharks, including Great Whites. Rains wash effluent and mud into the sea, and the effluent in particular attracts sharks, resulting in there having been several attacks in the area over the years. Vigilance is essential in murky water conditions, when it’s overcast or raining, and if there is seal and whale activity nearby. If most or all of these conditions prevail and the waves aren’t worth you risking your life, consider staying out of the water.

A Quick Guide to Surf Breaks in East London:


No doubt the most famous of East London’s surf spots is Nahoon.

Nahoon Reef is a reliable, rolling and usually powerful break. This is where you are most likely to share the water with some of East London and South Africa’s top surfers, and it can get crowded.

Nahoon Corner is a gentler break, which can be a left or right, depending on the sandbank.


Yellowsands Point is good in an offshore wind and if the swell is not too big. The paddle-out through what can be a sharky gulley is maybe only really worth it for a really good barrel.

‘Yellows’ beach break can be even more popular than Nahoon. When the sandbanks are positioned right and the swell is right, the beach break is nothing less than a long, perfect tube.

Yellowsands is known for high shark activity when the water gets murky from the river. Be vigilant, especially after rains.

Queensbury Bay

A powerful right break that can reach up to eight foot. One of East London’s best and most popular surf spots, Q-Bay can also run left off the outside peak. Plenty of shark activity.

Eastern Beach

Eastern Beach in East London itself can be an excellent surf spot, depending on the position of the sandbanks. When it’s on, it can throw up fast, powerful board-snapping waves with nevertheless enticing barrels.

Kidd’s Beach

Situated 35km south west of East London, this surf spot is remote and occasionally good. Locals will know if and when…

Igoda River Mouth

Shark territory with good lefts and barrels. Often has a wave when everywhere else is flat.

Bonza Bay

When the wind and swell is right, Bonza Bay at the Quinera river mouth throws up a really good beach-break barrel. If not, which is more likely, you can always go sandboarding on the 100m high dunes.


Gonubie Point is a steep fast take-off, which can peel off into a high, clean and perfect barrel in the right conditions. The break is popular with bodyboarders.

Gonubie Lefts is a long peeling left break, which tends to get cleaner and longer as it gets bigger. Very popular in the right conditions.

Glen Eden

A good surf spot when the summer Easterlies blow. A reliable right break that is still a good surf in a small swell, and the only really decent wave in a crazy onshore wind, so can get crowded.

Check out the surf conditions in East London:

(References: The South African Swell Seekers Guide by Craig Jarvis and Daniel Beatty, Sunbird Publishers 2007, and an East London local and surfer.)

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