The Home of the Perfect Wave
Situated 75km (47 miles) west of Port Elizabeth, Jeffrey's Bay is an easy detour on the way to or from the Garden Route, particularly if you feel like stopping for lunch on the beach: Follow the signs to Marina Martinique and you'll find the rustic Walskipper (tel. 042/292-0005 or 082/800-9478); order a plate of prawns, calamari, mussels, scallops, and crab sticks (about R110), but don't expect finesse -- meals come on enamel plates, with chunks of freshly baked bread, and waiters are, more often than not, barefoot.
Considered one of the top three surfing spots in the world, J-Bay (as it's affectionately known to locals) shot to international fame in the 1960s cult movie Endless Summer, which featured the break at Supertubes, the fastest and best-formed break on the South African coast, as well as Bruce's Beauties, a rare right-point break you'll find a little farther west, at the quiet coastal hamlet of Cape St Francis. For lessons, call Andrew at the Wave Crest Surf School (tel. 073/509-0400; R200 for 2 hr., includes board and wetsuit). For more activities in and around J-Bay, contact Ed from J-Bay Sandboarding (tel. 042/296-2974 or 072/294-8207). The best place to stay in J-Bay is Diaz 15 (tel. 042/293-1779; www.diaz15.co.za; high season R2,200-R3,700 double; low season from R1,870 double), comprising two- and three-bedroom apartments, a three-bed penthouse, and a superior suite, located right on the beach; nos. 2, 3, 5, and 10 have the best sea views. You'll want to be right on the sea, because J-Bay is architecturally a fright; you'll find much classier lodgings in St Francis Bay, a small coastal town a 20-minute drive west of J-Bay. The best options there are The Sands @ St Francis (tel. 042/294-1888; www.thesands.co.za; R3,200-R3,430 double) and Beach House (tel. 042/294-1225; www.stfrancisbay.co.za; high season R2,400-R3,990 double; closed May-Aug), each offering 180-degree ocean views, beach access, and thatched luxurious accommodations, including breakfast. Travelers on a budget could consider the laid-back Sandals (tel. 042/294-0551; www.sandalsguesthouse.co.za; R1,200-R1,685 for a standard double); it has good facilities, chilled Afro-Caribbean style, and 10 comfortable rooms with private decks or patios -- and is just a couple of block's walk to the beach. For more information, contact the J-Bay Tourism Office (tel. 042/293-2923; www.jeffreysbaytourism.org).