Strand (Afrikaans for ‘beach’) is a seaside resort town situated on the eastern edge of False Bay and at the foot of the Hottentots Holland Mountains. Its geographical position is just between Macassar and Gordon’s Bay, and is about 50 km southeast of Cape Town. Strand is in the Western Cape province of South Africa, and has a population of approximately 50,000. Strand’s main attraction is the beach; 5 km of white sandy beach lapped by the waters of False Bay.
Strand is often referred to as The Strand (Afrikaans: Die Strand). This is the old name of the town. Currently, the official name is only Strand.
The sun seen in the late afternoon on one of Strand’s beaches
Surfing is a popular water sport in Strand and, along with the relaxed atmosphere, forms an integral part of the beach culture of the town. Most of the available breaks are relatively safe for beginner surfers, and young surfers are a common sight in the waters on days when the surf is good. An interesting fact of surfing spots at Strand is that a lot of them are some distance offshore, however, most of these spots are frequently surfed, and despite the probability of sharks, these spots are much easier and safer to surf than other offshore surf spots on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Cape Peninsula. The protective element that False Bay gives here is probably part of the reason.
As with most surf spots, windless days create the best surfing conditions, and with a medium to large size ground swell, Strand should provide some good waves. Although there have been numerous shark spottings over recent years, the last recorded shark attack was in 1920.
The available surf spots, listed from west to east, are the following:
- AECI is mostly sandbank breaks that yield good waves when the sandbanks are optimal. The spot is past the fence that separates Strand beach from the prohibited AECI grounds. Whether the break itself is prohibited area as well, is uncertain, however access to the break is over the beach grounds, which constitutes trespassing. This spot is sometimes also referred to as Somerset West, since the AECI grounds are technically part of the nearby town of Somerset West.
- Blinkklip is the Sunset Reef (deep sea surf spot near Kommetjie) of False Bay. Named after the shallow rock ledge it breaks on, this is a mystic surf spot that has never been surfed, although rumours go that tow-in surfing attempts has been made there. It is very deep out to sea, across from AECI, and can be seen breaking from the beach on very large swell days. It would probably offer a very steep take-off and short ride, on a very large wave face. The presence of sharks here is an almost certainty.
- Pipe is the most popular and main surf spot of Strand. It is located just east of the fence that separates Strand beach from the AECI grounds. Good in no wind and medium to large swell, this spot is most frequented by local and visiting surfers, and is often quite crowded, limiting the amount of waves available per surfer in the water. The right-hand wave is usually a bit better than the left-hand wave. The spot usually offers best waves on a rising tide.
- Duckies (also referred to as Dakkies) is located in front of the lifesaving club. It offers a classic left-hand wave during huge swell when Pipe is often too crowded. Ideal for beginners, and usually less crowded than Pipe. Surfing is technically prohibited at this spot (and all spots further east than Pipe), however this prohibition is rarely exercised. Nevertheless, swimmers frequent this spot during the summer months, so care must be taken not to hit swimmers while surfing at Duckies. This spot only works on high tide.
- Reef (or Duckies Reef) is a reef break about 100m out to sea, directly accessed from Duckies. Paddling to this distant break requires about 10 minutes over a channel notorious for sharks. Hence, this spot is not for the faint-of-heart. Only works on low tide and large swell. The reef here is soft rock covered by lots of sponges, so hitting the rocks here will not be so dangerous. This spot offers a classic sliding left-hand break.
- Silkies is a spot further down the beach where a curve is formed, close to the old Springbok Cafe. Apparently, many years ago, this spot provided stunning hollow tube waves during strong southeaster winds. Nowadays, it is frequented by beginner surfers. It offers short hollow waves, not too big, best on low tide and southeast winds, making it offshore winds. It is partly sand bottom and partly rock bottom.
- Die Poort is also out to sea, in front of the Pavilion hotel/Strand Jetty. On low tide, a surfer can walk in the waist-deep water to this break, which works on both low and high tide, depending on the swell size and direction. Waves here are usually not best, although a good alternative. Due to the amount of bait from the fishing activities in this area of Strand beach, the likelihood of sharks here are increased.
- Greenways is a reef break out at sea even further than Duckies Reef. Accessible from the Greenways Country Estate, on the far east side of Strand. Only works on a very good and clean, large swell and high tide. The rocks here start to stick out even if the tide is not completely high yet, or if it is already dropping, thus limiting the time you can surf here without having to worry about hitting very pointy rocks. The paddle out is tricky, rocky and far. There is also the threat of sharks.
Strand is a popular venue for plenty of local surfing clubs’ surfing competitions. Although it has been argued that the waves are deteriorating from the fact that less beach dune sand are swept into the water because of the changes the growing number of high-rise luxury apartment blocks make to the local wind patterns, surfing in Strand will most likely be one of the most important local sports and contributor of local beach culture for many years to come.