With more than fifty sovereign nations covering a vast expanse of the planet, Africa is the least-surfed continent on earth. Despite a wealth of waves, there are many reasons why large areas of Africa remain virtually unsurfed by either local surfers or foreign travelers: war, famine, disease, difficult visa requirements and exorbitant expenses are a few of them. Several African countries with great waves like Angola and Gabon are regularly listed among the world’s most expensive countries. Extraordinary visa requirements in countries like Algeria, Angola and Mauritania make it damn difficult and uncertain to go there as no one wants to buy an expensive air ticket and then be denied entry and deported on arrival. War and famine in countries like Somalia and Sierra Leone deter all but dedicated aid workers and fanatical or blissfully ignorant surf travelers.
Like every other surfing location, the African continent is subject to seasonal variations in surf conditions. Wind on water makes waves for surfers and in the January to March window, North Africa stands out as a world-class location. Right points and reefs from Morocco to Mauritania are slathered in seasonal North Atlantic winter groundswell. With easy visa requirements and good tourism infrastructure, Morocco has been a top surf travel destination for decades with an increasing number of adventurous surfers traveling further south to the uncrowded points of Mauritania and the Moroccan-administered Western Sahara.
As the seasons shift around the planet, other areas of the African continent come into focus. Powerful groundswells from the South Atlantic starting in April light up a vast number of almost unsurfed waves in West, Central, Southwest and South Africa through the southern hemisphere winter until storm activity tapers off in September and October. Highlights include the left point setups near Robertsport in Liberia, the right points on the island of Sao Tome, the world-class left points of Namibia and the many high-quality waves of South Africa, which has perhaps the largest number of quality waves with the fewest number of resident surfers of any major surfing nation. With easy visa requirements, an English-speaking population and a low cost of living for visitors, South Africa is deservedly popular for traveling surfers.
The peak of the southern hemisphere winter from June to August also sees groundswell activity moving up the east coast of the continent to the many right points in Mozambique and into the Indian Ocean to affect offshore islands like Madagascar, the Comoros, Mauritius and Réunion. The prevailing southeast wind can be a problem in this area for surfing, but an increasing number of kiteboarders are stoked on the great surf and blustery wind conditions in Mauritius, northern Madagascar and Mozambique in the peak winter season.
When autumn arrives in the northern hemisphere, attention shifts to the Mediterranean Sea where powerful storms can send strong swell to the coast of North Africa. If there is any location in the world with an unfortunate mismatch of surfers to waves, the Mediterranean is it with most of the surfers located on the northern side in Europe and the waves being on the southern shores, in North Africa. Tunisia is by far the most accessible country for surfing in North Africa with good infrastructure and a westernized, French-speaking population. Algeria and Libya have many quality setups but a tourism visa can be difficult to obtain with constantly shifting requirements and procedures.