The Blombos road to Stilbaai is popular for this sport. There are many dirt roads in and around the hamlet of Vermaaklikheid. Mountain Bikes only – no tar roads.
Explore the farm on foot. There are rough bush tracks with views of the river. The vegetation is a mix of limestone fynbos, afromontane forest and coastal milkwood. A walk on the dirt road to the nearby hamlet of Vermaaklikheid is also recommended.
To the River – follow the path that begins at braai deck, running 40m under the forest canopy to the water. There is a rudimentary launch site. A store is located before the river containing canoes, kayaks and various water gear. Downriver, +- 6km, is a beautiful and uncrowded beach (Indian Ocean). Upriver is also very scenic and quite protected from the wind.
Swimming – Despite the sometimes brown colour of the water people have enjoyed swimming in this river for generations. The further down the river the more salty and clear which advances upriver with the tide. There aren’t any special hazards but swimmers need to apply their common sense e.g. avoiding diving head first into places where depth and obstacles are unknown. Swimming in the channel of the river mouth is very dangerous. You can swim in the sea (away from the mouth) – the usual ocean precautions apply.
Kayaking, Canoeing and SUP
Boating – The municipality enforces a speed limit and waterskiing type sports are prohibited. The Hessequa Municipality has a presence on the river in the holiday period.
Do not attempt to take a boat out to sea (via the river mouth i.e. the Puntjie) unless a. you possess a skipper license b. have plenty boat surf experience and c. have gained some local knowledge on the methods used to navigate out (and back in). Please be advised that this is a notoriously difficult river mouth – the channel is narrow, complicated and deceptively powerful.
Angling – Please observe the fishing limits, sizes and other regulations as documented in the fishing act and permit literature. The trolling of Rapalas is prohibited. The most successful anglers in the area use light rigs and mud prawn, fishing the incoming tide. Kob can be caught on live bait (mullet). Chokka and Sardine can work in the estuary but barbel tend to get to it first.
Common Species – River in the Estuary: Dusty Kob (River Kabeljou), Spotted Grunter, Leervis, Baardman, white Steenbras, Barbel and Rays.
Surf Angling: Kob / Kabeljou, Leervis, white steenbras, Galjoen, Elf / shad, Poenskop / Mussel Cracker, Stumpnose, Red Roman. Red List (Endangered): Red Steenbras, Yellow belly rockcod, Dageraad
Barbel sting. This fish has a spine located near the dorsal area (on its back). Use pliers or other sensible methods when removing the hook. The sting is very painful.
SURFING (STILBAAI & SURROUNDS)
Great surf lies within 30 minutes’ drive via the blombos road to Stilbaai and Jongensfontein. The main breaks are relatively uncrowded with exception of main holiday periods. The best time of year is April to October but you can find waves all year round. There is a relatively small and dedicated local surf group. They are relaxed and generally happy to share the waves with visitors. Don’t spoil this situation by breaking the known surfing rules or hassling them for waves. Give the locals respect and you’ll have your fair share.
The Garage Surf Shop (near the Spar) is run by local surfer Hanco Birmingham who also runs a surf school and private lessons in the summer holidays.
Shark Risk -There is a large population of Great White Sharks in the waters of the southern cape – no more or less compared to the waters around Cape Town. The Great White is the largest of the predatory sharks and is considered less aggressive to humans compared to Bull sharks and Tiger Sharks – common to the waters further up the east coast. Unfortunately, white shark attacks have taken place in these waters in recent times. Take precautions such as: do not surf alone; access to a shark attack kit (robust bandages, tourniquet and surgical gloves), save local number of the NSRI (sea rescue); avoid brown or murky water in the sea.
Stilbaai Reef (Morris Point)
The main surf spot of the town and located in the Skulpiesbaai nature reserve, 500m south of the Stilbaai Harbour. A consistent, powerful right point break. The wave seldom barrels but you can get a challenging ride from the car park to the NSRI when everything is aligned. The SW swells refracts round the point and reforms into a smaller version. The straighter the swell direction (south angle) the less refraction creating superior wave structure.
Optimal conditions: West and South West Winds are off shore. Ocean swell needs to be at least 1.8m with a decent wave period. Optimal swell direction is South or South West swell direction. Breaks best between Mid and High Tide on the pushing tide. The wave generally doubles in size from low to high tide but can be surfed at all tides except low (exposed rock hazards). There can be a powerful rip moving down the point towards the Harbour. You need to be paddle fit to surf enjoy this surf spot. Experienced intermediate to advance. There is a shark attack kit located next to the shower at the car park, and the NSRI is roughly 500m from there.