Summer time and the living is easy. Ja, right. In 2020, nothing was easy. What with the threat of Covid-19 and all the precautions many of us are taking, it hasn't been a normal summer, but we take it all in our stride and — you know what — we’re going to make the most of it and enjoy it in whatever way we can.
A good way would be to take to the water. I don’t mean just jumping in the pool or going for a dip in the sea off Camps Bay or Umhlanga Rocks, but actually doing something, making the most of our amazing weather.
There’s a multitude of ways to enjoy the water, from a quick swim to surfing or chartering a super-luxurious yacht for you and your friends to live the high life. Perhaps you could even learn something new like paddle boarding, kayaking, or skippering a boat. It’s cool to say you learnt to speak Spanish or achieved something similarly educational during lockdown, but imagine being able to say you learnt some SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) during the infamous year that was 2020. There are so many choices available, and obviously we’ve been doing some of the homework to give you some great places to start.
One is a website called Get My Boat. It’s a global operation similar to Airbnb or Booking.com, allowing you to browse everything from a scuba diving course in Johannesburg to renting a houseboat on Lake Kariba to chartering a luxury super yacht in the Seychelles. We discovered a whole world of things to do, on your own or with friends, and across our great nation, when visiting our neighbours and also if you are able to travel further afield. If you’re heading to the Garden Route, there are lots of options. We discovered renting canoes or a dinghy in Wilderness, fishing in Knysna, or relaxing away from the crowds on a luxurious catamaran with 11 of your friends in the waters off Plettenberg Bay.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, then how about hanging out with Jaws? South Africa is well known for its sharks, and while not everyone has the stomach for it, getting up close and personal with some of the ocean’s deadliest hunters off our coastlines is an adrenaline rush second to none. For sharky options of the responsible kind, try Marine Dynamics Shark Tours in Gansbaai. For seal snorkelling in Hout Bay, give Animal Ocean Seal Snorkeling a whirl. If you want to go deeper, then how about scuba diving? There are lots of great spots around the country providing not only the opportunity to hang with the fish, but also to explore coral reefs and shipwrecks. Even if you don’t have the experience, you don’t have to travel far to learn. There are numerous scuba-diving schools, even far from the coast in Johannesburg. It opens up a whole new skill beneath the waves that you can use almost anywhere in the world.
If you prefer to be above the waves, then perhaps you want to learn to surf, bru. Jeffrey’s Bay and Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town are popular choices for beginners — if you’re in the latter, drop Craig Johnson a line for great lessons. Or you can book a surf camp and make your whole family holiday about learning to ride the waves. You can even book a surfing-and-yoga camp for a combination of adrenaline and zen.
Not quite ready to surf? How about paddle boarding or stand-up paddle boarding? It’s a great way to see things from a different perspective while switching off and gliding along the water. You can even do a SUP trip around Robben Island, although only when the waves of Table Bay are nice and calm. SUP Cape Town is a good place to start for all related endeavours in that part of the country. The company sells the kit, offers lessons but also — and this is key for all commitment-phobes, inland-lubbers, and newbies — rents out boards over the holiday season. If you’re in Kwa-Zulu-Natal this month, check out the SUP Durbs! Club website for excellent info on where to hit the water all up and down the coast.
If all of this sounds a bit too energetic, fear not; there are numerous ways to get your water fix while sitting down and enjoying a glass of champagne on a boat or a yacht.
You don’t even need to venture to the coast. There are plenty of boats to hire on the Vaal River or at popular spots like Hartbeespoort Dam. For real luxury though, you’ll need to head to the sea, especially if you want to charter a 20m yacht for you and your besties. The Only One is a Princess yacht moored in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, available through Luxury Yacht Charters. It’ll cost you up to R77,000 for eight hours, but it hosts 12 people during the day, or six if you want to sleep on the water. It comes with a crew, drinks, snacks, and you can even hire a DJ to play the tunes while you watch the sun go down.
There are other choices too, such as the elegant Princess Emma or the sporty Topaz. Then there are the big toys, the real super yachts. For these, you will need to book well in advance, because it’s likely they will need to be brought to you from moorings around the globe. Yacht Charter Fleet does occasionally bring some of its yachts to South African waters, but mainly it’s on the request of clients. You’ll need deep pockets though, with prices ranging from a couple of hundred thousand to more than $2-million a week. We’re not even going to convert that to rands; it’s enough to make you need another glass of champagne. Oh, go on then.
• From the December edition of Wanted, 2020.