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Oceans and Beaches of southern Africa

The map shows the sea teperatures around South Africa - note the cold water around Cape Town.


South Africa lies between the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast, and the Indian Ocean on the east.. The cold waters of the Atlantic ocean makes the crossing from Robben Island a real challange, while the warm waters of the Indian Ocean can be very rough. Open water races were held in the sea around Cape Town, while surf lifesaving clubs operate on the beaches. 

Besides swimming many have sailed across, fished and engaged in a multitude of aquatic sports in the oceans of South Africa. 

Click here to see the numerous Tidal Pools that were built to provide safer water for swimming.

In Table Bay harbour the Pier was a popular swimming venue, and the finishing point for Robben Island swims. The harbour dry dock was used to host Aquatic Carnivals.

Port Elizabeth has hosted the World Ironman Union triathlon event at Hobie Beach.


Atlantic and Indian Ocean sports in South Africa

Atlantic Ocean

Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean is always challenging - with the water temperature around 12 degree. In the early 20th century Cape Town was still mainly in the city bowl, so swimmers had to deal with the cold water. Trips to False Bay - in the Indian Ocean side - was an excursion, and places like Muizenberg and St James were resort towns for Capetonians. 

The many tidal pools along the coast reflect the need for safer, and warmer, swimming waters. The Cape Long Distance Swimming Association was set up to help swimmers deal with the conditions, as Robben Island swims became popular from the 1960's. 

The relatively dry and barren west coast is still only sparsely populated, with the Langebaan lagoon providing one of the few accessible swimming locations. There is an annual Around the Island race in the lagoon, as well as other longer distance challenges. Further up the coast at Namibia they host the annual Pupkewitz Jetty Mile .Namibia is between South Africa and Angola on the southwestern coast of Africa. 


Indian Ocean

East from Cape Town is the Indian Ocean coast, which runs 2000km up to Richard's Bay. Most of the coast is pounded by big surf, which makes swimming very dangerous, which is reflected by the many surf lifesaving clubs found on the beaches of the Cape and Natal. There are a growing number of open water races along the eastern Cape coats.

The Transkei coast is largely unreachable and undeveloped, without any aquatic sports traditions. 

In Natal the densely populated South Coast features less of the large surf found in the eastern Cape. North of Durban the coast is sparsely populated.

Beaches and aquatic sports in southern Africa

Aquatic sports events on the beaches of South Africa include surf lifesaving, open water racing and marathon swimming. The beaches used for aquatic events often also have a resident surf lifesaving club.