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January 18, 2012

Cape Town summer sea adventures

Beach and water activities are naturally the order of the day in Cape Town during the balmy summer months. Here are a few adrenaline-pumping ideas for your next visit.

Surfing

Cape Town has numerous surfing spots for various levels of expertise. Beginners are advised to visit Muizenberg and Big Bay, while experienced surfers can go to Llandudno, Hout Bay or Long Beach for more challenging waves. For the pros and adrenaline junkies there is big wave surfing at Dungeons in Hout Bay, where waves can be up to 25m high. Blouberg Beach is the best option for kite surfing, if you know what you’re doing. If you would like to learn to surf, try:

Gary’s Surf School, +27 (0)21 788 9839, gary@garysurf.com, www.garysurf.com

Sea Kayaking

A sea kayaking adventure around the Peninsula provides stunning views of the Cape shoreline and brings you right back down to earth with the realisation that you are a mere speck in the ocean. Kayak with:

Kayak Cape Town, +27 (0)82 501 8930, tours@kayakcapetown.co.za, www.kayakcapetown.co.za

HBK Eco Tours, +27 (0)82 213 8899, info@hbkecotours.co.za, www.hbkecotours.co.za

Scuba Diving

Cape Town plays host to fascinating marine life living among the kelp forests and shifting tides. Dive with cow sharks and gully sharks in False Bay or snorkel with the Cape fur seals near Cape Point:

Scuba Shack, +27 (0)72 603 8630, info@scubashack.co.za, www.scubashack.co.za

The “Cape of Storms” is also home to shipwrecks from centuries gone by. Book a wreck dive tour with:

Dive Action, +27 (0)21 511 0800, info@diveaction.co.za, www.scubadivecapetown.com

Shark Cage Diving

The ultimate in water adventure is getting up-close and personal with a great white shark – an unforgettable experience (even if you’re just viewing from the surface). The Western Cape is the perfect place for an encounter with this predator of the deep, due to the strong presence of the Cape fur seals. Shark cage dive with:

African Shark Eco-Charters, +27 (0)21 785 1947, airjaws@mweb.co.za, www.ultimate-animals.com

White Shark Diving Company, +27 (0)82 559 6858, info@sharkcagediving.co.za, www.sharkcagediving.co.za

White Shark Projects, +27 (0)21 405 4537, info@whitesharkprojects.co.za, www.whitesharkprojects.co.za

Just always remember to be safe in the sun …

Drink lots of water. Always use a sunscreen of at least SPF15 or more and limit your exposure to direct sunlight between 10h00 and 16h00 as this is when the sun is at its hottest. Do not swim directly after a meal, or under the influence of alcohol. Always limit the distance you swim out to sea as you will have to swim back, and wear brightly coloured swimwear so that you are easy to spot.

Cape Town’s beaches do not have shark nets; instead there is the Shark Spotters programme. Twenty one shark spotters are stationed at several lookout points along the False Bay coast. They liaise with lifeguards at beaches and use a flag and alarm system to warn beach goers of a shark’s whereabouts:

-          A green flag means visibility for the spotters is good and no sharks have been seen

-          A black flag means visibility for the spotters is poor but no sharks have been seen

-          A red flag means a shark has been seen recently but is no longer visible to the spotters

-          A white flag with a black shark, along with a loud siren, means a shark has been sighted and bathers should leave the water immediately

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