As I hit the road again this month after failing miserably at returning to a ‘normal’ life in the UK I jumped straight back into the three things that motivate me the most – surfing, travelling and blogging.
I flew into Cape Town and joined the South Africa Surf Adventure run by Ticket To Ride (the guys I worked for during my brief stint during the UK!) and after spending 2 months promoting and selling the trips I was stoked to tick South Africa off my list of places to visit as well as sample some of the incredible surf breaks it has to offer.
UPDATE (April 2019): I went back to South Africa again this year and did the full 10 week Cape Town to Durban trip. Click here for my full review and video edits!
REVIEW; Surf Adventures In South Africa With Ticket To Ride
Epic Surf Adventures
For those of you not in the know these guys offer some of the best surf adventures out there – with their 10 week South Africa adventure and instructor training trips being the flagships.
Over 10 weeks (or 13 if you bolt on 3 week Mozambique Surf Safari and get off the beaten track) surfers take in 8 amazing stops, surf heaps of incredible surf spots and in their land based time sample some of the epic experiences and culture that South Africa has to offer.
They cater for every level of surfer too, utilising some of South Africas top surf coaching (including Nikita, the reigning 4 times SA Female Champion) teaching riders everything from the initial building blocks of the ‘pop’ through to tackling turns, duck dives and beyond.
Unfortunately due to already having firm plans in place for my return to Asia I was only able to join their first 3 stops – but it gave me a great insight into the TTRide experience and what you can expect from their range of adventures.
I’d also like to point out now that although I’ve worked for and still work closely with Ticket To Ride the following review is my honest opinion – I have no interest in falsely promoting anything I didn’t actually enjoy!
Cape Town is the first stop on the itinerary – based in the beautiful beachside suburb of Muizenberg which I instantly fell in love with , for just under 2 weeks. The beach here provides the perfect opportunity for surfers to really nail the basics of the sport – with local coaches such as TK helping everyone to perfect their techniques on the long open beach before putting them to the test amongst the forgiving, spilling waves.
The mix of land and ocean based training helped everyone in the group progress and having scored beautiful clean waves from day 2 onwards clean faces and the start of bottom turns were all within reach – setting the foundations for a well rounded knowledge of the sport and really getting everyones stoke going!
Cape Town is also one of the most packed itineraries when it comes to exploring the local area – allowing everyone to rest up and keep their paddle power for the optimum surfing conditions. Activities like hiking up Table Mountain, chilling with the penguins on Boulders Beach and wine tasting allows you to start really soaking up the South African vibe and getting in touch with the natural beauty and culture of the country.
We also got stuck into some of the many community projects TTRide supports through their trips too, in this case it was the inspiring Waves For Change. Tim (actually a former TTRide trip leader who got so involved with the locals he started his own project!) leads a team of incredible local coaches who have brought the sport of surfing to a township called Khayelitsha.
Since they’ve started teaching the local kids about the ocean and how to surf gang violence has significantly dropped off and an area that was once South Africas most dangerous beaches now has a thriving surf scene.
It’s incredible to see the positive impact such a diverse sporting culture can have.
Cape Town really sets the tone for the whole adventure too – giving you a solid base to get to know your fellow surf buddies, mingling with heaps of Cape Toneians and of course clocking up some serious water time!
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A 7 hour roadtrip down the coast (which is an absolutely gorgeous drive!) sits spot number two – Plettenberg Bay.
Plett is definitely a much more chilled vibe than Cape Town, a sleepy holiday town which offer up a number of breaks to choose from depending on wind and swell direction.
When it comes to the surf the coaching and waves really kick up a gear – packing more power there’s a solid focus on really pushing your personal limits in the water, which is the perfect wake up call for those looking to head on to complete the surf instructor course!
With most of the breaks to ourselves it was also a great opportunity for the entire group to get used to point break format and heavier waves, really nailing the skills learnt over the first few weeks.
It’s not short on things to do here either – whether it’s a scenic walk along the coastline or tackling the worlds highest bungee jump! Like all the stops there’s complete flexibility on down time to help you make the most of the area and the surfing conditions.
The infamous JBay was my final stop on the trip and the spot I was most stoked to check out. The right handers here are world famous and it also hosts an ASP Tour competition too – so if you score it right you could well get the wave of your life!
I was lucky that even though I only stayed for a few days Kitchens (the spot in front of our accommodation) served up some glassy, head high waves and I was pumped for it!
JBay is also one of the longer stops on the TTRide trip too and you’ll get to enjoy it for 2 weeks, which is epic! As the third stop off there is also a switch in the style of surf coaching too and there is definitely an emphasis on self motivation. Although you still receive coaching and the TTRide guys are often in the water with you having a surf break literally slap in front of where you stay means you can clock up as much water time as you want with unlimited free surfs just a short stroll from the hostels beach entrance.
For those who put their minds to it this is the stop that can seriously up your game and really get the stoke flowing! It’s a case of going big and having confidence in everything you’ve learnt along the way.
The town itself lives and breathes surfing and the vibe mirrors spots like Byron Bay in Australia and Montanita in Ecuador with it’s surf all day, party all night style – something that is well catered for by the hostel (Island Vibe) and there’s always heaps going on and an abundance of fellow travelling surfers to mingle with.
Even though I only stayed a few nights JBay is firmly on my list of places I want to return too and I could easily see myself kicking back and using is as a base for a few months!
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A True Surfing Vibe
From a gap year travel perspective the TTRide setup is the perfect choice for anyone wanting a solid, single trip choice – or for those simply wanting to get really stuck into the surfing lifestyle.
If you want to kick back and simply enjoy amazing waves and a new country even for intermediate surfers like myself it was perfect and although the coaching is mainly focused on those newer to the sport there’s no shortage of pointers and feedback for the more advanced.
Cheers to Bondi and Nikita for helping force my cross stepping and giving me stick about my pop – ironing old bad habits is something I certainly need to work on!
For me though the best thing is the fact you can opt into the surf coach examination at the end of the trip – allowing you to gain an internationally recognised qualification. I’ve worked as a surf coach all over the globe and can tell you first hand that it’s an epic career path that can involve heaps of travel if that’s what you choose to do! As you guys probably know I’ve seasoned hopped through the UK, Ecuador, Portugal and Morocco!
Cost wise with the 10 week surf adventure starting at £3,945 and the same itinerary with the instructor course at £4,645 it may sound like a solid chunk of cash (which it is!) but it’s definitely worth every penny.
I’ve also run similar ‘zero to hero’ surf coaching courses and can honestly say the TTRide one is head and shoulders above the rest – I haven’t seen another course that combines their quality of coaching and certification alongside a truly unique road trip format packed full of heaps of extras, you really get good bang for your buck!
It’s as much an adventure as it is a surf trip and I was gutted that I couldn’t stay for the full 10 weeks, South Africa is heaps of fun and I’m already trying to figure a way to get back there soon!