Cape Town, South Africa: Flatwater and Downwind Guide by Justin Schaay

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Justin Schaay slides into the finish of the Miller's Run in Cape Town, South Africa
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Justin Schaay shares local knowledge and his hometown perspective of Cape Town, South Africa’s greatest sup spots.

Table Mountain, Cape Town So Africa
Table Mountain looms as the dramatic backdrop to a windswept ocean over Cape Town, South Africa.  Photo:  Justin Schaay

Cape Town, South Africa is a destination that won’t disappoint.  As a peninsula, it is a mecca for water sports with rich cultural diversity and vast natural beauty.  The city embraces multiple terrains within it’s perimeters including mountains, beaches and miles of vineyards.  Often referred to as the Cape of Storms, Cape Town has an extensive nautical history dating back to Dutch explorer Jan Van Riebeeck’s arrival there in 1652.  For the standup paddle enthusiast, one can choose between the excitement of downwind runs, epic waves or tranquil paddles in calmer waters sheltered by picturesque Table mountain.  It IS Africa so one can always expect to see some wildlife out there: penguins, seals, whales, and yes, possibly sharks too!

Muizenberg Corner Cape Town South Africa Justin Schaay
Swell rolling in: Muizenberg Corner is a beginner’s paradise with easy rolling rides to the beach.   Photo:  Justin Schaay

Muizenberg Corner is a perfect place to start your standup paddle adventure.  Muizenberg has a mellow beach break with easy entry for beginner’s and ample waves.  There are plenty of surf shops nearby offering both lessons and boards.  The folks at Xpression on the Beach will outfit you for your standup paddle excursion, very knowledgeable about the local area and happy to share their wisdom.  Xpression offers great service and is home of Coreban Pro Sup team Tarynn and Tom King.  Hit them up for a lesson. As a bonus, Xpressions also has a great juice and coffee bar. It gets crowded here in the water with lots of beginners, but there’s plenty of room to spread out.

Big Bay Bloubergstrand  is another must due to the number of great surf spots in the area.  It’s best to get in the water early and catch some waves before the wind picks up.  Bloubergstrand also offers an amazing view of the mountain and stands at the finish of the very popular Milnerton downwind run.

Victorian and Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, South Africa Justin Schaay
The Victorian and Alfred Waterfront:  sheltered paddling, great food and shops for every paddler

The Waterfront:  When you’re ready to take in the city sights and relax on some calm water canals, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is in the heart of the city center and  surrounded by spectacular views of Table Bay and the mountain.

The Cape Peninsula dares to protrude out into the open Atlantic where deep ocean storms loom and swells build strength from the depths of the Antarctic.   The prevailing wind in the summer is a ‘Southeaster’, as it is called by the locals, which accelerates along the mountain slopes creating epic downwind conditions.  There are two popular downwind courses both of which are approximately seven miles long.

Milnerton Downwind Run, Cape Town South Africa Jane Amory
Punching Through:  the start of the Milnerton Downwind Run.  Photo: Jane Amory

Cape Town’s Downwinders

The most popular and well trodden downwind course is the infamous Milnerton Run.  This 7-mile downwinder on the Table Bay side of Cape Town runs from Milnerton Lighthouse to Big Bay Bloubergstrand.  Once you get out past the shorebreak, you can let the Southeast wind affectionately known here as ‘The Cape Doctor’ blow you across the bay.  The wind accelerates along the flanks of Table Mountain and surges along this stretch.  Keep your feet planted and let the wind take you for a ride.  If there is a sizable swell, the entry and exit for this run can be challenging.  Timing is everything!

Justin Schaay Milnerton Downwind Run Cape Town South Africa
Justin Schaay, all smiles, cruising into the finish of the Miller’s Run at Fish Hoek beach.  Photo: Gilbert Reid

On the False Bay side of the peninsula, Miller’s Run is a superbly scenic downwind run.  Launching from the boat ramp in a protected cove with mountains behind and deep blue ocean in front, you will be in awe of the natural beauty of this setting.  Aim for the Roman Rock Light then veer slightly to the left to make the run into Fish Hoek Beach.  A combination of wind swell and groundswell can makes this one of the most epic downwind runs in all of South Africa!

Miller's Run, Cape Town South Africa Justin Schaay
Setting up:  paddlers forge out into the bay and then turn their backs to the wind for the Miller’s Downwind Run   Photo: Gilbert Reid

Downwinding can be both extremely challenging but equally rewarding as you pick up a following swell and surge with your board towards your destination.  If you’re not quite ready for the open ocean then the beautiful Langebaan Lagoon holds excellent paddling options for the beginner.

Boulder's Beach, Cape Town South Africa Justin Schaay
Boulders beach Simon’s Town the perfect spot for a calm ocean paddle and penguin sighting.

Safety:  Be sure to take  your proper safety equipment with you! For any paddle but especially out on the open ocean, you will need:  Personal Floatation Device (or PFD), flares or cell phone in a waterproof bag and a leash.  The water temps are cold in Cape Town so wear a wetsuit.  Don’t go out there alone.  Always paddle with a partner.  Early sailors named this area the Cape of Storms for good reason as the wind picks up and conditions can change quickly.  Do not underestimate the challenges and risks.  Be prepared!


Justin Schaay BIC SUP Profile Pix
Justin Schaay grew up in South Africa. He is a certified ACA Sup Instructor and Guide, BIC Sup Ambassador and Werner Paddles Team Rider.

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Justin Schaay wishes he was born in the age of discovery, exploring and traveling the world.  He grew up along the rugged coast of South Africa enjoying the wonders of the ocean.  He now lives in historic Charleston SC, when he’s not teaching or guiding he can be found hanging out with his family or planning his next travel adventure.  Justin is one of only a few that have completed South Africa’s Dusi Canoe marathon on a standup paddleboard and also holds the Sup record for Florida’s Everglades Challenge,  300 miles self-supported race from Tampa to Key Largo.  He did it in just under 5 days.  Check out Justin’s BIC Sport Team Profile: