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Marine Places

Jeffreys Bay

Jeffreys Bay is famous both as a highly popular surfing spot and for the large numbers of beautiful seashells that wash up on its shores. It consists of a series of wide beaches strung out along a southeast-facing stretch of the South African coastline.

As a surfing destination, Jeffreys Bay is regularly ranked among the top five beaches in the world by those seeking the “perfect wave.” The most acclaimed surfing spot or wave “break” is known as Supertubes. Here, the combination of shoreline shape, bottom topography, and direction of wave propagation regularly generates waves that form huge, glassy-looking hollow tubes as they break. Other nearby wave breaks in Jeffreys Bay have been given such colorful names as Boneyards, Magna Tubes, and Kitchen Windows. Some of these waves can carry a skilled surfer several hundred yards along the beach on a single ride. The same waves that attract surfers are also responsible for the vast numbers and wide variety of seashells that are washed up onto the beach with each tide.

Conchologists have identified the shells of over 400 species of marine animals, including various gastropods, chitons, and bivalves, making the bay the most biologically diverse natural coastline in South Africa. Dolphins, whales, and seals are also seen.

Hidden dangers

Every surfing spot, including Jeffreys Bay, has dangers that would-be surfers should know about. The most important are rip currents. The enormous volume of seawater washed up on shore by the waves tends to pool at specific points on the beach and is then funneled back out to sea in swift currents. These move rapidly away from the beach, straight out through the surf zone, and can sweep unsuspecting swimmers out to sea. They can be escaped by swimming parallel to the shore. At Jeffreys Bay, there have also been rare reports of surfers being bitten by sharks, most often by the sand tiger or ragged-tooth shark.

Jeffreys Bayzoom image
  • Indian Ocean Southwest
  • Type Series of gently sloping, dissipative beaches
  • Composition Sand
  • Length 15 miles (24 km)
  • Location Southwest of Port Elizabeth, eastern Cape Province, South Africa
Jeffreys Bay habitat mapzoom image