Jeffreys Bay, South Africa

Photo: Chris Bloom via flickr

It’s a good morning for beginners. Surfers, that is. The sun will help the temperature rise into the 70s. The water temperature is less than 10 degrees behind that. The wind is coming offshore from the east. Waves are only a few feet high. Experts certainly wouldn’t be impressed, but they’re a good size for those who need to practice. So pull on your wetsuit and grab your board. It’s time to go for a ride.

Jeffreys Bay is one of the most famous surfing destinations in the world. It lies along South Africa’s Eastern Cape and Sunshine Coast. Port Elizabeth, a popular beach town, is only 45 miles to the northeast. It overlooks the Indian Ocean, where dolphins and southern right whales live. White-sand beaches, dotted with tons of seashells, and aloe-filled dunes line the coast. Red-tiled and thatched roofs fill the center of town. While the vibe, like most surfing meccas, is laid-back and super-friendly.

That vibe started in the 1960s when the sleepy fishing village became a hippie hangout. Those who surfed quickly discovered a consistent, long, fast point break on the west side of the bay. It’s now considered one of the best right-hand breaks in the world. Pros come to test the Supertubes (the best part of the wave). Plus the World Surf League holds competitions here each winter.

Photo: Shaloha Guest House

Winter is still a few months away, though. Waves, which will eventually reach nearly 20 feet, are usually between two-and-a-half and five feet (low tide versus high tide) right now. They’re the perfect size for someone who no longer needs an instructor but is still gaining confidence in the water. JBay Surf Village, a group of surf shops, will help point you in the right direction. Casual seafood restaurants surround them. The only other thing you need is a cozy place to stay.

Shaloha Guesthouse sits right on the beach. The immaculate house has only five rooms. They all have sea or garden views. You like the White Milkweed Suite for its gas fireplace and freestanding bathtub, and the Seascape Suite for its private beach access. The common areas—a library, a dining room, two kitchens, three lounges—make the airy space feel even bigger. Terraces line the front of the house. They have a barbecue area, a braai fire, and sun loungers on them. You also have an uninterrupted view of the famous Supertubes. Pretty soon, you’ll no longer be able to call yourself a beginner, by the sounds of it.

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