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Nahoon Point Nature Reserve-Where Surfers and Sharks Meet.

Updated on August 26, 2019
Johan Smulders profile image

Nature enthusiast and amateur photographer.Travelled extensively in Southern Africa and the USA.

A group of Comorants sunning themselves
A group of Comorants sunning themselves
A Kelp Gull doing a flypast
A Kelp Gull doing a flypast
Part of the boardwalk At Nahoon Point Nature reserve
Part of the boardwalk At Nahoon Point Nature reserve
East London Beachfront and Harbour
East London Beachfront and Harbour
The Rubbish Bins have an African motief
The Rubbish Bins have an African motief
On display in the Mercedes Bentz visitors centre
On display in the Mercedes Bentz visitors centre
A pod of Dolfhins
A pod of Dolfhins

Nahoon Point Nature Reserve –where the surfers and the sharks meet.

There are several nature reserves in East London and perhaps the most spectacular and interesting one is Nahoon Point. Two things make it famous. Firstly Nahoon Reef is one of the best surfing spots in South Africa. A consistent break and beautiful shaped waves makes this the venue for important surfing events and visiting surfers to South Africa have it on their bucket list together with Jeffery’s Bay’s famous “Supertubes”.Some well known surfers on the world circuit have cut their teeth at Nahoon Reef including Wendy Botha(a former Women World Champion) and, Greg Emslie, who often dashed down to the reef after school to spend the afternoon honing their skills. A former world champion Paddle skier Kola Le Roux is also a Nahoon Reef graduate. I know of one American surfer who surfed Nahoon on a good day and stayed on in East London for ten years before going back home.

A second reason why this is a famous place is that one of the oldest footprints in South Africa has recently been discovered here. About 125 000 years ago a young boy made a footprint in the sand that was preserved by a series of natural events that followed. Today the footprint is one of the most valuable archeological discoveries in South Africa and can be viewed in the East London Museum together with a Dodo egg and the first Coelacanth identified by the well known ichthyologist L.B. J. Smith. from Rhodes University in Grahamstown. This alone makes the East London Museum an important stop in a visit to East London.

But what Nahoon Point will be recognized and remembered for by many people is the shark attack that took place on another young surfer,Brandon Ainslee, and was captured on video by an Australian visitor who happened to be videoing him surfing when the attack took place. This video has been shown on several programs on National Geographic. Yes, there are Great White Sharks that patrol up and down the coast and although a human is not their natural food and a surfboard is not on their menu, it can be argued that a surfer on a board can possibly be mistaken for a big turtle or a seal, Brandon escaped with light injuries!

Today as I visited this Nahoon Point Nature Reserve the sea was a deep blue, a couple of surfers enjoyed the glassy conditions, a big pod of Dolphin frolicked in the bay and Kelp Gulls and Cape Gannets flew lazily up and down the coast looking for the schools of Sardines that are making an early appearance this year. It was easy to imagine that under the water a Great White or two also moved slowly up and down the coast.

In the small museum that is situated in the Mercedes Bentz Footprints Building a short history of the area can be found. Also a surf board with a big bite out of it. The Nahoon Reef Café serves meals and snacks in the same building. Every Saturday morning many runners and walkers pass by on the weekly Park Run, most who would never even venture into the deep water off the reef. In the car park several intrepid surfers of various ages are changing into their wet suits and waxing their boards in preparation before entering the water to look for the perfect wave.

The strange thing is that every day as the surfers put on their wet suits and paddle out to surf, the sharks look for food and people walking on the beach make new footprints in the sand. Who knows what the next 125 000 years holds?


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