Let’s talk about our local spot for a moment. Oh, good ol’ Big Bay.
Guys started surfing the Bay in the mid 1980s, before the Surfrider Café opened and when one could still braai down at the beach, according to long time local, Brent mcLean Monk.
If you go down there now, Big Bay has greatly developed in to a busy beachfront with expensive shopping centres, fancy restaurants, and luxurious apartments that make up “Eden on the Bay”, as it is now referred to as.
Most surfers say Big Bay’s wave was much MUCH better back in the day with a cooking right-hander that peeled off the rocks bordering the bay, proclaims West Coast shredder Rafael Gomes. This was before all the modern development took place right along the coastline.
Just a few years back, Big Bay had the grand honour of being nominated as a Blue Flag Beach. It was pristine with the perfect view of iconic Table Mountain and a picturesque bay to bathe in. However, as millennial construction continued, the coastline started to give way and collapse onto the beach destroying walkways and stairways, unfortunately. This affected the wave too, and dearly.
With the change in the coastline and disappearance in sand due to Man’s surrounding development, local surfers now say Big Bay is one of those “you either love it or you hate it” surf spots. Personally, I can never make up my mind about it. Just when I’ve written it off as a surf spot day after day of scratching around for 2-second “pap” close-outs, local friends tell me how it was absolutely firing for a few hours the other day when every where else was not on at all.
Big Bay is just so random. Like, you can never label it as being a fantastic or a terrible surf location. Yes, it is a great learn-to-surf wave at low tide as it is a sandy sea bed with some protection from massive swell compared to its neighbouring surf spots. The little rocky islands sheltering the bay make it feel much safer to surf at compared to at an open beach, too.
It is also more protected from the predominant South Easter that blows throughout Cape Town’s summer and the North Westerly winds in winter, as the face on the wave is much smoother to ride compared to choppy Doodles or Horse Trails in these winds.
However, Big Bay will be weak and closing out one day, and the next it will have a few running right-handers if you search hard enough, allowing you to practice your top turns and cutbacks for when you hit your next trip to J-Bay.
Big Bay is just so moody and unpredictable.
Although, local surfers cannot deny the fact that they hold Big Bay close to heart. The surf community there is still strong, even if locals speak a ‘miff’ word about it.
When the other top local surf spots are not working, surfers return to Big Bay in search of a wave that is still somewhat rideable. The greetings out in the line up between old mates who have not seen one another in a while, are refreshing and make one realise that Big Bay is actually still a decent surf spot as it does something special – it reunites friends.
Keep Big Bay on that surf spot list of yours. It might just surprise you one day.
Viva la Big bay.
Editor’s Note: The local municipality is putting in as much effort as possible to save Big Bay’s beach with new reconstruction, and here is to only hoping for the best again.