Surf’s up in Jeffreys Bay and Cape St Francis

The Eastern Cape’s Sunshine Coast was anything but that when Bevan and I arrived a few days before Easter – just in time for the arrival of a nationwide cold front that left snow on the Drakensberg, and gale force winds and huge swell pounding the coastline. Luckily, this wasn’t our first visit to the area around Jeffreys Bay and Cape St Francis and we knew that what would be waiting for us when the front passed would make sitting it out for a few days more than worthwhile…

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Surfing Jeffreys Bay

Arriving in town at the same time as the cold front didn’t worry us too much – there’s nothing like enjoying some cozy indoors time while Nature wreaks havoc outside. What is more, a big cold front pushing lots of swell could mean only one thing for the little town of Jeffreys Bay – an influx of surfers and perfect, running waves at the best right-hand point break in the world. What is a bit of rain when you know that this is in store?

Supertubes cold front surf - Jeffreys Bay
Arriving at Supertubes as the cold front hits.

Jeffreys Bay is a surf mecca. Its sandy coastline and submerged rocky reef has a number of breaks but the one that draws the crowds is undoubtedly Supertubes, a right-hand point break with hollow, well-formed waves reeling down the line. Locals here admit that there are still days when only a handful of surfers are in the water but in general, surfers from as far away as Cape Town eagerly watch the weather charts for any sign that the break will be firing and book a flight or drive through the night for the chance to ride this world-class wave.

Jeffreys Bay itself is a town built around the surf. With many international surfing brands having good representation here and Supertubes a fixture on the World Surf League’s annual tour schedule, surfing is ingrained in every aspect of life. Driving down Da Gama Road you can’t help but notice the many surf shops along the way, or any number of cars ranging from battered farm bakkies to students’ rusted skadonks to gleaming SUVs filled with all kinds of surfing paraphernalia and boards strapped to the roof. The beach and surfing culture is a way of life here in J-bay.

Supertubes surfer barrel - Jeffreys Bay
Supertubes – This is why they come.
Supertubes lineup Jeffreys Bay
The lineup at Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay.

Exploring Cape St Francis

Close to Jeffreys Bay and with some well-known surf spots all of its own, the small town of Cape St Francis offers an escape from the face brick buildings, and sometimes crowded lineups of Jeffreys Bay. This small town is on a peninsular and the wild side with its rocky coastline and stormy sea juxtaposes beautifully with the calm groomed waters of the bay. Cape St Francis has many natural areas where fynbos and low-lying coastal vegetation abound, and with its wide clean beaches and many walking trails this unpretentious town is incredibly beautiful.

Cape St Francis Beach
The soft white sand beach at Cape St Francis.
Cape St Francis Lighthouse
Seal Point Lighthouse, a national monument and iconic sight in Cape St Francis.
Bruces Beauties St Francis
The Cape St Francis and Jeffreys Bay coastline is littered with surf spots. Here is a small day at Bruce’s Beauties in St Francis.

Bevan and I chose to base ourselves in Cape St Francis during our stay in the area. With it being a peak holiday period, the much larger Jeffreys Bay was full of holiday makers and we preferred to escape the crowd and spend some time exploring its quieter neighbour.

The one thing that always brings back a sense of nostalgia is the very distinct smell that the fynbos in this area gives off. I haven’t noticed it as strongly from any other stretch of coastline, and so breathing it in reminds me of wonderful holidays and good times previously spent along this, one of our favorite stretches of coastline.

This last visit did not disappoint. When the surf wasn’t happening, we spent our time going for invigorating walks along the beach, first exploring west along the wild side past Seal Point and then east to the point separating Cape St Francis from nearby St Francis Bay. Refreshingly chilly water washed over our feet as we walked along fine white sand beaches, trying not to stand on the Bullia snails that were uncovered by the waves as they receded. The smell of salt in the air mingled with the smell of the fynbos, and we felt like we were home.

Jill hiking Cape St Francis Lighthouse
Hiking the Wildside Trail on Seal Point.
Colours of the coastal vegetation Cape St Francis
Despite the grey sky, our coastal walks around Cape St Francis were filled with colour.
Jill on the Cape St Francis Peninsula
Exploring to the east of Cape St Francis – the point on St Francis Bay.

With a constant eye on the sea, Bevan managed to sneak in a few surfs at Cape St Francis too. The lightning-fast beach break provided some epic barrels, and he got in a late afternoon surf at Seal Point complete with humpback dolphins swimming past. As the photographer on the beach I was in the dog box after this evening session – distracted by the incredible lighting and scenery around me, I managed to miss all of his waves! Needless to say he didn’t think footage of dogs playing on the beach or the beam of the Seal Point lighthouse slicing through a sky lit up in sunset colours compensated for his loss!

Evening surfing seal point cape st francis
Seal Point on a beautiful evening in the Eastern Cape.

Final thoughts on the area

For surfing options, Jeffreys Bay can’t be beat. For incredible scenic beauty and a much more relaxed, natural and laid-back feel though we loved Cape St Francis. Whichever you choose, this particular stretch of coastline and the Eastern Cape in general won’t disappoint. We were about to set out for another taste of it, this time near the mighty Kei River, the gateway to the Wild Coast.

We would like to thank Cape St Francis Resort for hosting us during our stay. The beachfront location created an instantly relaxed and holiday feel and the apartments were comfortably laid out with everything we could have needed. As well as family-friendly accommodation, the resort also has a backpackers for the budget-conscious.

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