The thought of balmy weather, a cool ocean breeze, and goofing off with the sand between your toes, allure millions of South Africans to the beach every December. 

Whether you’re heading to the coast to rip, trekking the family on annual vacation, plan to spend your time soaking up the sun, or entered the yearly beach-bat bonanza on Boxing Day, remember that the ocean is a multifaceted and mercurial environment to be enjoyed with mindfulness and consideration.

So before you rush off in your slops and shades, have a quick look at the tips we’ve assembled to help you and your family enjoy the beach safely, and prevent accidents or injury.


Safe Swimming

  • Be aware of your, and your family’s fitness, and swimming skills levels. 

  • Find the red and yellow flags and stay between them.

  • Look at, understand and always obey the safety signs.

  • Always swim with a buddy. Never alone.

  • Only swim in areas where other people are present.

  • Stay in sight of the lifeguard.

  • Never swim when lifeguards are off duty.

  • Enter the water feet first.

  • Swim sober.

  • Surfers and body-boarders shouldn’t surf in areas where bait and game fish are running, where seals are present, or seabirds are diving.

  • If you get into trouble, stick your hand up, stay calm, and call for help.

Shark Safety

  • Do not swim or surf near feeding birds, dolphins, or seals.

  • Do not swim in deep water beyond the breakers.

  • Don’t swim if you’re bleeding.

  • Don’t swim near river mouths.

  • Pay attention to any shark signage on the beach. See below.

A shark has been spotted – sirens will sound; leave the water immediately

A white flag with a black shark diagram means that a shark is currently near the beach, and beach users must get out of the water. A siren will sound and the white flag will be raised.


Rip Currents

How to Spot a Rip Current

  • Water through a surf zone that is a different colour than the surrounding water.

  • A break in the incoming pattern of waves.

  • Seaweed or debris moving out through the surf zone.

  • Isolated turbulent and choppy water in the surf zone.


When Caught in a Rip Current

  • Don’t panic. Remain calm.

  • Swim or paddle very slowly, parallel to the shoreline or relax completely and allow the tide to carry you out past the breakers.

  • If you can tread water or float, you’ll be safe until you can escape the flow and head back to the beach.

  • When you head back in, do so at an angle to the shoreline. Again, maintain a slow and relaxed pace until you reach the shore or assistance arrives.


  • Seek shade under an umbrella or tree between 11:00 and 15:00 when the sun is at its hottest to protect your skin from too much exposure. Too much sun can cause nasty sunstroke. 

  • Keep hydrated by drinking lots of fluids, excluding alcoholic drinks.

  • Always wear a hat and apply high-protection sunscreen regularly, even when it’s overcast.

  • Leave your valuables at home, put your cell phone and keys in a waterproof bag, and never leave it unattended to go swimming.

Consider Other Beachgoers

  • Do not take glass containers/bottles to the beach as it can injure bare feet.

  • Shake the sand off your towel away from other people to avoid getting sand in their eyes. Take note of the wind direction as well.

  • If you’re digging a hole, fill it up before you leave, to prevent someone from falling in and hurting themselves.


Preserve the Environment

  • Take along rubbish bags to dispose of your trash properly.

  • If you smoke, leave those ugly butts off the beach.

So whether surfing or building sandcastles is your thing, the beach if there for everyone to enjoy. Make sure that you and your family are aware of the risks, and know what to do in case of an emergency, and take others into consideration so everyone can have some fun.


Reporting Beach Emergencies

Keep emergency numbers memorised or saved for urgent assistance.

Call 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cell phone. Or dial 112 from any cell phone, irrespective of your network. Dial 10111 for ambulance services.

We wish you stoked surfing and a safe festive season

Want to learn how to ride the waves like a pro? From group lessons to private lessons, you’ll find your perfect fit. Get in touch with Stoked School of Surf to get started on your journey learning how to surf.