We went to “J-bay” as it is passionately called because I like to surf, and Jeffrey’s is considered by many to be one of, if no the best, surfing wave in the world.
The day we arrived the swell was 15-19 feet high and there were more people sitting in the observatory deck than there were in the water, which I counted to be exactly zero.
I figured these locals just didn’t have what it took to surf real waves until the next morning when there were well over 100 people in the water, what a difference a day makes!
Although I never did surf J-Bay (I opted for body boarding on the “kiddie beach” with 11 foot sell instead) it has been one of my favorite stops along our journey.
What to do with Kids in Jeffrey’s Bay
As I mentioned above, J-Bay is a surfing town, it fits every stereotype, down to our laid back hostel owner who when I asked what the swell was going to be like tomorrow looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, it is what it is, it may be smaller, it may be bigger, we just take each day as it comes and try not to predict the future.
Wow, I thought, that is a great way to live life!
We then talked about life in J-bay, how he had built this hostel with his own hands, briefly discussed the meaning of life, and then I promptly logged on to their WiFi and checked Surfline to check the next days swell.
If you are a good surfer J-bay is your spot. It is “heavy”, fast, a bit unpredictable and sublime to watch.
The main area for surfing is a region called Supertubes, Of course like all descent surf spots “supertubes” is divided once again. I called it small medium and large. The locals called it “boneyards’, supertubes, and the point. (please don’t hate me if I got this wrong)
Having surfed long enough I knew “boneyards” probably was named that way for a good reason. Asking why it was named that way I got a mix of answers, but my first walk at low tide was all I needed to see. A large, jagged, rocky reef made up of a myriad of mini canyons separated white sandy beach from velocity of J-bay’s wave.
The stories I heard about broken bones, lacerations, missing front teeth and sharks… ahh sounds great.
As a surfer I decided not surf J-bay, which may very well mean I am not a real “surfer”, but if the surf had been smaller I would have, I would have paddled out to the point, and to be honest I would have probably paid the 20 bucks for a lesson.
J-bay has a strong and unpredictable current so you should not go at it alone especially for your first time, the reef (in my opinion) is big enough that it could cause some serious bodily injury. The wave is spectacular, there is a reason it is called Supertubes and everybody who comes back from a surf session has a big smile on their faces. The laid back surfer culture is refreshing, people are not arrogant, but kind, even the bushy blond haired prototypical surfer dudes are readily approachable.
Endless, white, sandy and scattered with jewels of the sea, the beaches at J-bay are surprisingly spectacular. As a runner this was a dream come true.
We found our place in Jeffrey s Bay, it’s called Crystal’s Cove and it has turned into such a wonderful spot!
For around $65 a night we had our own family apartment complete with two bedrooms, two baths, balcony with a view to the ocean, full kitchen, living room, TV, consistent WiFi, beer bottle candles, a friendly cat, a lively bar downstairs, a pool table, tennis courts a block away, a play ground a block away, great people to talk too and to round it off, Supertubes right outside our bedroom window.
Our room was surprisingly quiet, even though we were right above the bar.
On arrival a darling 6 year old with a sparkle in her eye greeted us with “My name is Aleah, come and see this cool dead lizard!”
Wow, I thought, it was like meeting our daughters long lost twin.
Turns out she was the owners granddaughter. The kids quickly befriended one another and ended up having 2 wonderful play dates during our stay, as did mom and dad!
Crystal Cove is a true family run business. The patriarch of the family is a kind and gentle man who will talk your ear off about the local surf and what it used to be like in the old days, his wife is a painter, their daughter, Cindy, was equally animated and kind, she spent the afternoon chatting with us as the children laughed and played.
We met a 14 yr old boy from the Maldives traveling with his Dad on a surf holiday.
He joined in with the kids’ fun acting as an older brother, chasing the kids around the hostel and having a grand old time.
I finally got to ask Cindy, a true local, some burning questions that I had about South African society. Everything from questions about the racial divide to why such bad coffee and internet, to what was up with all the parking attendants that crowd the South African streets.
My only regret is not eating dinner the first night with everyone. It smelled and looked so delicious.
One of the staff at Crystal Cove is a chef and will cook up a great meal every night for a minuscule price if there’s enough people.
Learning to Drum
Where to Eat in J-Bay with Kids
The kids had Pb&J by candle light and I had yogurt with granola.
We opted for some really bad pizza at a very popular Portuguese restaurant in town earlier.
Mental note, don’t order pizza at a great Portuguese restaurant, order the Portuguese food, it looked fantastic!