Surfing has a fanatical following in Durban, and several local and international tournaments are staged on the city's beaches, at nearby Umhlanga, Ballito, or on the Bluff. Crowds of more than 10,000 are not unusual for night surfing competitions or the annual Mr. Price Pro championship (formerly the Gunston 500) held in Ballito, a top World Qualifying Series event on the world surfing circuit. When the conditions are right, New Pier is one of the best beach breaks in the world.

Just on the other side of Durban's protected bay, Cave Rock, on the Bluff, offers a seething right-hander that can handle big swell. It can be a tough paddle and is not for amateurs. Farther down the South Coast, surfers head for Scottburgh, Green Point, Park Rynie, or Southbroom. North of Durban, popular spots include Umhlanga, Ballito, Richard's Bay, and Sodwana Bay.

The more popular spots can get crowded, and locals are known to be territorial about certain sections. Be sure to obey the laws of surfing etiquette. Usually the best waves are found at dawn and dusk. If the southwester blows, the Durban beaches are your best bet. In the winter months look out for an early-morning land breeze to set up good waves along the whole coastline.

Surfing lessons are offered at uShaka Beach, where experienced coaches supply boards and advice. Surf shops along the beachfront will put you in touch with surf coaches, including professional surfers and bodyboarders who offer one-on-one coaching and group lessons. You can also rent surfing equipment from the surf shops, by the hour or by the day, at nominal rates during peak vacation season.

Learn2Surf. Run by a surfer-lifeguard, this surf school just north of uShaka Beach at Addington Beach caters to beginners and improvers for individuals or groups—and can even organize surf parties. Equipment is supplied. Prices depend on your individual requirements. Erskine Terrace, Beachfront, Durban, KwaZulu Natal. 083/414–0567;

Ocean Ventures. Based on the beachfront at uShaka Marine World, this company offers surf instruction suitable for beginners for $100 per hour. You can rent surfboards and bodyboards here too. Escombe Terrace, Beachfront, Durban, KwaZulu Natal. 086/100–1138; 31/332–9949;