Muizenberg is a beach-side suburb of Cape Town, situated where the shore of the Cape Peninsula curves round to the east on the False Bay coast. It is considered to be the birthplace of Surfing in South Africa and is currently home to a large surfing community, centered on the popular 'Surfer's Corner'.

Muizenberg from Boyes Drive

The Muizenberg wave is an exposed beach break, which works best with a West Northwest wind and a Southeast swell. Clean groundswells reign supreme and the beach breaks offer both lefts and rights.

It is a more gentle wave which makes it ideal for all level of surfers, but in turn means that it can get crowded.

This is nothing new for Muizenberg regulars, as the popularity of ‘Surf-boarding’ made the ’Berg a popular holiday destination, even as far back as 1910. The influx of tourism in Muizenberg, steered the municipality to hire out thousands of surf-boards, costumes, bathing caps, towels and deck chairs.

We at Stoked School of Surf, believe that this is a prime example of how incredible surfing truly is; and that we are not the only ones that think so.

This was proven in 1918 by “The Cape Peninsula Publicity Association brochure of 1918" which had this to say about surfing, in an attempt to lure up-country visitors:

“In the Pacific the islanders have made it an art. At the Cape it has become a cult. The wild exhilaration is infectious. It steadies the nerves, exercises the muscles and makes the enthusiast clear headed and clear eyed.

Life and good spirits are qualities of the surf bather.”

We like to view this as one of the earliest definition of the ‘stoked’ feeling.

Almost a year after the publication, we see the earliest recording of stand-up surfing in South Africa, which took place in Muizenberg in 1919 by Heather Price.

Heather Price Surfing

A Cape Town woman and Muizenberg legend, who befriended two U.S. Marines whose ship had stopped over in Cape Town en route to America after WWI.

The marines had brought with them two solid wooden “Hawaiian” Style surfboards. This type of board is also known as an alaia surfboard.

Heather Price and US Marine with wooden board

According to Heather they took their boards with them when they sailed. We fought the urge of adding the saying “Boys and their toys” but failed as it seems nothing has changed between a surfer and their board.

Muizenberg surfing history

Surfing continued to captivate the hearts and souls of all kinds of people and by 1921, Tony Bowman, was ones of them. He was a pilot who was returning from World War 1 and settled in the one and only, Muizenberg. 

After Tony read “The Cruise of the Snark” by Jack London, a book in which he described surfing on Waikiki Beach, he was captivated by the beauty of riding waves and was inspired to build his own versions of surf “boats”.

He wrote to the Honolulu Tourist Association for pictures of surfing so that he could determine the dimensions of the boards being used in Hawaii.

Tony, was joined by Lex Miller and Bobby van der Riet. They became known as ‘Three Arcadians’.

They made the boards in a workshop behind the Arcadia Tea Room and strived to improved their boards with every attempt.

The 'Three Arcadians' constructed three boards using a hollow timber construction, covered with canvass and painted to make the boards watertight.

The three Arcadians

It was not too long before,they were joined by many others who wanted to share in the ‘stoke’ and like that, stand-up surfing was established at Muizenberg.

A few decades later, in the 1960’s, the decade when the eccentric and highly elusive “Hippie” generation, rose to ‘Fight the power! Man…’, with outlandish ideas of peace, love and happiness, which strike very similar cords to those of ‘stoke’.

The beach lifestyle became ‘fashionable’ once more; and now it was here to stay.

Muizenberg was the epicenter of the “Surf Culture” in the Cape, as was Durban in Natal.

Bruce Brown’s classic movie “The Endless Summer” introduced the growing world of surfers and the surf lifestyle, to some of the best waves on earth; and in turn, created a desire for the true surfers dream of living a life guided by the search for waves.

The Endless Summer Movie Poster

After the introduction of Shortboarding in the late 60′s and early 70′s, Longboard Surfing dwindled as a common surfing style, especially when the slow wide maneuvers where replaced by fast paced carves.

However, in 1989 the sport was rejuvenated with the establishment of WP Longboard Surfing (based in clubhouse in Muizenberg).

The SA Champs have been held annually since 1989 with Western Province, Eastern Province and KZN, each hosting the Champs in turn. Longboarders represent the biggest chunk of the surfing community in Muizenberg, as the wave is a gentle one, perfect for the classically elegant maneuvers of Longboarding.

Almost a century after the birth of South African surfing, Muizenberg was in the news with another sufring first.

In 2009, The Earthwave Global Surf Challenge was successful in Muizenberg.

This is a Cape Town initiative which attempts to break the Guinness World record for the most surfers riding one wave simultaneously and the ‘Berg was making surfing headlines once more with 110 people surfing one wave – talk about sharing in the ‘stoke’.

Earth wave 2009 Muizenberg

This challenge takes place annually on beaches world wide in September and seeks to raise awareness whilst offering practical advice on how to combat the threat of global warming and its effects on our oceans.

We would like to thank surfingheritage.co.za and muizenberg.info for photos and information on SA Surfing history.

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