How to forecast the surf in Cape Town

The same complex geography that creates the huge variety of waves around Cape Town also makes it difficult to predict where the surf will be good from one day to the next. This can take years to master but fortunately surfers nowadays have their own crystal ball to help make this much easier – the internet.

If you have an understanding of the specific swell and wind direction needed for good waves at a certain spot, www.windguru.com provides the most accurate tools to make your own surf forecasts. The site features an eight-day forecast for many of the spots around Cape Town, with daily wind and swell data broken into three-hour intervals that update automatically.

www.magicseaweed.com uses similar data and also offers an eight-day forecast. The difference is that the site creates a daily bar graph of the expected wave height at various spots and even gives it a star-rating based on the forecasted combination of wind and swell – one star for poor surf, five stars for excellent surf. This site is fairly reliable for exposed surf spots and makes it much simpler to read the data – it packages the forecast for you – but does not always take into account how much a swell has to wrap into a bay and other complex factors that influence different waves around Cape Town, which can make it inaccurate and unreliable.

www.wavescape.co.za is a local surf-forecasting site that provides a similar service to Magic Seaweed, with a seven-day forecast packaged into charts and bar graphs for most of the spots around Cape Town. But it goes much deeper and offers a detailed analysis of the forecasted surf conditions for Cape Town that is updated every few days. The forecasters have a good understanding of local conditions, so the reports – and charts – are generally much more accurate.

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