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What is the Surfing Program?

Gap Year South Africa Surfing Program works in Partnership with the expert guidance of The Roxy Surf Emporium Surf School based at Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town. Together we deliver a Surfing Program designed to cater for all levels of Surfing from Learn to Surf Beginners and Intermediate to Advanced surfers wanting to develop their Surfing Skills.

The Surf Emporium is world renowned for being a Top Quality Surf School that is aligned with global surf brands such as Roxy, Quicksilver and Starboard. The Surf Emporium offers ISA Qualified Surf Coaches and only the very best of the best surfing equipment, as well as a welcoming and friendly environment. The Surf Emporium was started, and is intimately run by  six times South African Surfing Champion, Roxy Davis, her husband William Davis and the amazing Surf Emporium Staff.

As a Gap Year South Africa Surfing Program Student, you will undergo a professional method of surf coaching with our progress booklets developed to track your surfing skill development. You will have full access to The Surf Emporiums’ high quality equipment and facilities including wetsuits, surf boards, hot showers, change rooms, lockers, and the vibey Vida E Cafe. You will quickly Learn about the Surfing Industry, and adopt the Muizenberg Culture and Surfing Lifestyle as you immerse yourself into the Surf Emporium Family.

The Surfing Program achieves the perfect balance between developing your own surfing skills and giving back as a volunteer. You will be volunteering with the Ubuntu Surf School and share your newly gained knowledge as well as in the Volunteering Primary Programs.

As a volunteer for Ubuntu Surf School You will be responsible for managing the  learn to surf equipment, you will guide the children in their lessons, and become an integral part of their development on the program. With your help we will be working together to use surf therapy as a method of changing lives in our surrounding communities.

You will be taught how to teach and mentor the children of the Ubuntu Surf School in order to feel equipped and knowledgeable in the water with little surfing experience.


Do I need to Know how to Surf? NO, It is not a prerequisite for you to have any prior surfing experience or qualifications, we seek individuals that are passionate, energetic and enthusiastic to have an adventurous Gap Year in South Africa.

Can I Volunteer on the Surfing Program? Yes, If you are looking to Volunteer Abroad and perhaps searching for a different Volunteer Program that offers the full package then the Surfing Program is for you.

Is Surfing Good for me? From a mental point of view, surfing increases focus and quick response skills needed for other sports and many aspects of life. Surfing is known to be an effective stress reliever and excellent way to keep fit and healthy. Surfing increases your cardiovascular fitness with paddling, enhancing your neck, shoulder and back strength. Surfing works on your core and leg muscles as standing on your board requires balance.

What Will I Learn as a Beginner Surfer?

The surfing project will assist you in learning about:

  • The ABC basics of surfing
  • Surf rules and etiquette – you will learn how to manage yourself in the line up
  • Safety in surfing – all safety procedures will be taught, including basic beach and water rescues
  • Fitness for surfing – you will learn about fitness for surfing and how to get the most out of your surfing
  • Environmental factors – the ocean ,weather, waves, rips, tides, currents
  • Introduction to Wave predictions and weather charts – how to correctly chart the weather conditions and predict optimum conditions for surfing
  • Sharks – you have the opportunity to learn in detail about ocean life, sharks and the shark spotting programme.

What Will I Learn as an Intermediate and Advanced Surfer

  • Wave predictions and weather charts – how to correctly chart the weather conditions and predict optimum conditions for surfing
  • Types of surf breaks – learn the difference between split peaks, multiple random peaks, point breaks, reef breaks and beach breaks
  • Fitness for surfing – you will learn about fitness for surfing and how to get the most out of your surfing.
  • Surfboard construction – you will have the Opportunity to learn the art of board construction, as you shape your own surfboard from the beginning, starting with a polyurethane blank and finished with a polished surfboard – and keep your personally shaped surfboard to take home with you.
  • Environmental factors – the ocean ,weather, waves, rips, tides, current
  • Sharks – you have the opportunity to learn in detail about ocean life, sharks and the shark spotting program.
  • Career Opportunities- you will learn about the possible career choices that can be made surrounding the sport
  • Introduction to stand up paddle boarding – theory and practical
  • Shadow your Surf Instructors and learn How to teach surfing lessons.
  • Opportunity to complete your ISA Qualification to qualify as a surf Instructor with an internationally recognized Qualification that allows you to teach surf lessons and get paid anywhere in the world.

How long should I do the Surfing Program for?

The longer the better – the more practice you get the better you will become, after only 5 weeks you will be a competent Surfer who is capable of  handling their own equipment, managing themselves in the water and capable of catching and riding waves on their own. After 5 Weeks you may be ready to advance onto the Intermediate to Advanced Surfing Program and start surfing other breaks around Cape Town and trying different boards until you adopt your own personal surf style.

type Type of project: Surfing Program
max-and-min-time Minimum duration: 2 Weeks
max-and-min-time Maximum duration: 18 Weeks
location Location: Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa.
airport Airport: Arrive and depart Cape Town International Airport. All transport to and from airport is provided by Gap Year South Africa.
age-requirements Age requirements: 17+
included Included: Accommodation, with Wifi. Food (healthy balanced meals) Transport to and from programs. Cape Town exploration excursions. 3x Surf Lessons/week. All surfing Equipment. Volunteering Program of choice.
excluded Excluded: Flights, Travel insurance, spending money, any adventure activities that we do not provide.
laundry Laundry: A washer and tumble-dryer are available in the volunteer house for volunteer usage.
accomadation Accommodation: The Gap House is located in the Beach Town Fish Hoek, which is known as the safest suburb in South Africa. Fish Hoek is central to all the South Peninsula Surf Breaks. It’s a short 10 minute drive from both Muizenberg beach and your volunteering programs in Masiphumelele. The Gap House is safe and secure, all necessary security precautionary methods possible are implemented to ensure your safety at all times. This house has 3 bedrooms and caters for up to 14people. Each room has private bathroom, and the Gap House has as communal kitchen, a lounge area and Dinning area.
The Gap house is nestled between mountains and has an outdoor area with a pool, front garden and braai area where volunteers can hang out and enjoy the view. Housekeeping provided to ensure the Gap House maintains a hygienic and comfortable environment for all.
schedule Schedule: Mondays- Thursdays: Mornings you will participate on Volunteering Programs of choice. Afternoons you will receive Surf Lessons – 3x Surf Lessons/ week

Fridays: Free Surf time to improve your newly learned Surfing Skills.

All volunteers have weekends off to relax, explore Cape Town, or participate on arranged excursions!

menu Menu: Breakfast and Lunch are provided on a Self Catering basis. Dinner meals are home cooked and hearty, and cater for dietary requirements such as Vegetarian and specific allergies.  Meals are well balanced including all essential food groups and designed to promote a healthy lifestyle.
outings Excursions: Every Second week we arrange an excursion to explore Cape Town. Please see our Adventures Page to see what an Included Excursion looks like.

5 Weeks – 2x Paid Excursions included.

8 Weeks – 4x Paid Excursions included.

12 Weeks – 6x Paid Excursions Included.


required Required: To have an open mind with a flare of adventure and taste for travel as well as a respectful attitude towards the Culture.

Maile McGlynn – California, USA. Surfing and Volunteering Program 2017


Signing up, I knew Cape Town to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and just hearing about it intrigued me. I knew I wanted to improve my surfing and meet new people, and help the communities in any way I could. I honestly did not know what to expect when I came here because I signed up just a few weeks before actually coming, so all I knew of the program was what I read online and that grabbed my attention and made me want to join. Communication wise, I was not able to personally speak to Jess before arriving because I had been in another country with limited internet access so my mom had signed me up and took care of it all since I was unable to. My mom relayed all the details to me though so it was good, and we had a group email with the other volunteers to get to know each other a bit. But as soon as I arrived at the Cape Town airport, and Jess picked me up I felt immediately comfortable. We became friends right away and it’s always easy to talk to her.

I was the first to arrive, and it was nice being able to unwind and unpack for a night to get settled in before the next volunteers came. It was three volunteers for about a month, and the three of us became best friends from the beginning, friends who I know I will have for life. I remember my first surf lesson, also not knowing what to expect, and I was surprised when I stood up on my first wave because it had been several months since I’ve surfed.

With my primary program, at Educare, for a couple weeks I would go into different classrooms to help out and then I got put into the babies’ room, and it was the one for me. I loved playing with them so much, they are all so sweet and a crazy bunch at that. I would help push them on the swing, feed them lunch, get them ready for nap time, pass the ball around, play legos, et cetera. It was really rewarding and I just always enjoyed being in their presence. It was especially rewarding for when I would arrive each day and they would all come up to me and want me to lift them up in big hugs. With teaching surf and swimming lessons I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it made me want to become a surf instructor back home. I have been a swim coach for about 4 years to young kids and I always loved doing it. It was a bit different teaching to people your own age but still very rewarding and fun. Seeing them improve each weak made you feel like you really were making a good impact on them.

In the Gap house, I’ve always felt comfortable and safe in it. I loved that it’s like a real home, and we have our own family in it. It is definitely a safe place and so many memories are held here. Each and every volunteer is just like family to me, we all got along so great from the start and I don’t know what I would do without them, they are all life long friends for me. We are all supportive of each other and very close.

Communication was easy with the Jess and Leanard. I could always get ahold of them, and it was easy to contact them in case plans changed or something. There were a couple times with rides when there was a miscommunication and one thought the other was picking us up, but it would be sorted fast. It was easy to approach topics with Jess.

The excursions were so much fun! My favorite was probably the safari weekend. It was once in a lifetime and amazing, bungy jumping was the most adrenaline pumping experience I’ve ever had. Table Mountain was also so cool, extremely difficult but once you reach the top you feel so rewarded and the view is incredible. Wine tasting was also a quite exciting day.

This entire experience has been three of the best months of my life, I would not trade it for the world. I have changed so much for the better, become more independent, learned more about myself, made the best friends and lived in one of the best cities on earth. Some of my favorite parts and best memories were: sunsets on the beach, Cape Point vineyards, Brass Bell karaoke nights, Chapman’s peak cave sunset, car rides stuck in the beach traffic and having the funniest conversations, baking cakes, pizza nights, movie nights, having a sleepover in the family room where we all moved our mattresses into it, Safari weekend and being able to walk with elephants and lions, bungy jumping, surf lessons, meeting so many new people and making lots of friends, experiencing a whole new culture, teaching people to swim and then to surf, ReSurf lessons, nights at the Vic, going into town, wine tasting, and just all the small little things that add up to be the big things are the memories that I will cherish forever.



Mikaela Parkyn, California, USA – Surfing and Volunteering Program 2016

“I mikaeladefinitely felt like I immersed myself into this program. Arriving in Cape Town I had a slight fear of the ocean so learning to surf was just conquering that fear from the beginning. I think that the Emporium made it easy to take initiative in this program, they are always available to help if you reach out and explain what you’re struggling with and would like help improving on. They give you great coaching. I found it challenging but it was all a challenge that I loved. It was physically challenging to begin with because you have to be physically fit to surf. I had no idea how great of a workout it is! It was also challenging because of my fear of the ocean. Overcoming that challenge was pretty quick as you get used to the water and the people around you are always there to help and encourage you in the water and remind you there is honestly nothing to worry about. I improved so much throughout this surf program. My first lesson, I was using the SUP to learn to surf because I was finding it so difficult to stand. By the end of the trip, we were surfing almost everyday in all kinds of conditions. Some days were better than others but there is nothing like catching a good wave!


Challum Chapple, Cumbria, UK – Surfing Program 2015

The surfing program is mainly based around surfing lessons, both learning and teaching. During the program I spent time working with many types of people, from professional surfers to young offenders awaiting trial. During the project you become part of the surf community in Muizenburg, and meet some very skilled surfers and some incredible people.

An average day in the program is:

  • travel to Muizenburg by train and arrive at 9;30
  • surf lesson from 9:30-11:00
  • 11:00-12:30 is time for lunch
  • From 12:30 to 5:00 is project work, mostly teaching disadvantaged children or disabled adults surfing and ocean awareness.

A typical surfing lesson starts with a warm up on the beach, mostly running and stretches. the skills you are working on during that session are then explained and practised in the shallow waters, when the coach thinks your ready they will take you to the back line and the skills you practised earlier are put to the test.

My favourite part of the program is teaching young children to surf, and helping them catch there first wave, its a moment that changes many of there lives as at that moment they gain confidence in them selves. I will never forget the look on there faces when they stand on a board for the first wave.

Physically, surfing has made me allot fitter and stronger. Mentally, my time in cape town has changed me immeasurably, I feel I have become more resilient and determined


Jack Morgan, Boston, US – Surfing 2014

When I signed up to Gjackap Year South Africa, I had no idea what to expect, but all my worries were soon put to rest, thanks to the amazing individuals who run the show. Learning to Surf and teaching others how to surf is an amazing experience. As a surfer you shortly become part of the community, as opposed to other travel programs which feel like a glorified school trip. A great aspect of Gap Year South Africa is the flexibility of the programs. I highly recommend Gap Year South Africa to anyone interested in volunteering or surfing on their Gap Year.


Kerry Chapple, Cumbria, UK – Surfing Program 2013

kerryGoing to South Africa was the best decision I ever made.  The Gap Year South Africa team were so helpful and friendly through my entire application process and I was confident from the start that I’d made the right decision. I took part in the surfing programme and it was without a doubt the most rewarding thing I have ever done. By far the best thing I did whilst I was out there was teach surfing to a group of guys from the local communiversity who all had so much enthusiasm and spirit, I will never forget those guys as long as I live. Teaching surfing is such a special thing, you really never forget the look of pure joy on someones face when they stand up and ride their first wave. Cape Town will always be a special place for me, it will stay in my heart forever, and I urge anyone who is even considering going with Gap Year South Africa to do it, you will not regret it at all.

For the Ultimate Ocean Adventure Journey you can qualify as a PADI Open Water Certified Diver and Explore Cape Towns hidden secrets, the underwater world which is Famous for its abundant marine life. You will be divinng with wonders such as the Cape Fur Seals, over 3 different species of sharks including the adorable, pre-historic and very human friendly 7- Gill Cow Sharks, sleepy pyjama sharks, large rays and game fish, plus many more incredible animals and encounters to have.

Using our extensive network of Ocean Expolorer connections we will set you up with some of Cape Towns best Marine Biologists as you can play a role in conservation of the Great White Sharks, Cape Fur Seals, Dolphins, Whales and much more.

This is the perfect addition to the Surfing Program as you get a full rounded Wild African, Ocean experience.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us and find out more.

“I improved so much throughout this surf program. Some days were better than others but there is nothing like catching a good wave!”

Mikaela Parkyn

Surfing and Volunteering, 3months - Jan 2016

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