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SUMMARY
+ Mellow waves
+ No crowds
+ Sandy left pointbreaks
+ Calm winds, warm water
+ Fishing paradise
- Inconsistent swells
- Malaria and diseases
- Small mushy waves
- Few flight connections
- Expensive local prices
oneill



North Gabon, Gabon, AFRICA


Cap Lopez Peninsula, Luc De Tienda

Surf Spots

Ferme aux Crocos
Gueque
Ngombé
Ngombé
Palplanche
Cap Lopez
Ferme aux Cochons
PG2
Olendé
Petit Loango

The Surf

As a surf destination, Gabon remains a mystery to most waveriders. Nestled below the “Armpit of Africa”, few foreigners make the journey, while the sparse local surfing population rarely travel beyond France. Most of the known spots are located close to Port-Gentil and the capital, Libreville, where expatriates provide the greatest number of potential surfers among the city’s 300,000 population. West Africans have long harboured a distinct fear and mistrust of the ocean, leaving the bulk of the population firmly on dry land with limited swimming skills. To escape the virtually waveless estuary of Libreville, drive north on one of the few paved roads to Cape Esterias, or get a boat to Ekwata. Ferme aux Crocos (Crocodile Farm) is a private beach resort reached by 4x4 with a wide beach and sloppy shorebreak waves. There is a rideable wave in Libreville at Gueque but it is very poor quality. On the west side of the Gabon Estuary are the ten neat beach bungalows, which make up Ekwata village. From here, it is a 15 minute walk up to Ngombè lighthouse where an occasional long wrapping left breaks over the shiny black stones that line the coast. When it is on, it’s a very long wave, so head for the beach and walk back to the peak under the shade of the trees. The main problem with this estuarine area is that even at a full 20km (12mi) out to sea, the water depth remains a mere 40m (130ft) deep, draining the power from the swell. The beach skirts a swampy savannah full of birds, monkeys and elephants, while to the south surfing opportunities diminish in the shadow of Port Gentil and heavy silting in the Baie de Nazare.



When to Go

South Atlantic lows deliver swell between April and September but only the biggest swells make it to the Gabon coastline some 5000km (3050mi) north. These swells tend to be slowed by the extended continental shelf and then hit a predominately W facing coast, producing an average wave height of 2ft (0.6m) and rarely getting bigger than 5ft (1.5m). Being right on the equator and lacking straight exposure to S swells, the main surf spots lack consistency. However, the unsurfed SW facing coastline may be bigger. Don’t count on windswell or tidal range to help as 90% of all wind is less than Force 2, usually on a SE-SW quadrant and the biggest tide is a mere 7ft. There is a constant south to north sideshore drift, getting stronger the further south you go.

SURF STATISTICS
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
dominant swell S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW
swell size (ft) 1 1-2 2-3 3 2 1
consistency (%) 20 40 50 60 40 20
dominant wind S -SW S -SW SE -SW SE -SW S -SW S -SW
average force F3 F3 F3 F3 F3 F3
consistency (%) 69 67 88 90 88 76
water temp (C) 27 28 25 23 24 26
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts
Population
Port-Gentil - 165,000

Coastline
885km (553mi)

Timezone
GMT +1hr

Travel Information

Weather

Being equatorial, Gabon is very hot and humid. Temps vary from 23ºC - 33ºC (72ºF – 92ºF) and during the seven month long rainy season, humidity wavers between 90-100%. From mid-September to May rainfall is about 300mm/month (12”in) although this will increase the further north you go. The main rainy season is from mid-January to mid-May, with another smaller one from mid-October to mid-December. Fortunately the remainder of the year is less rainy. Only June-September is dry, luckily coinciding the main swell season. Water temps rarely get below 25ºC (77ºF) but take a light neoprene rashvest for wind protection.

Nature

Besides the plentiful African wildlife (chimps, birds, elephants), visit Elf Museum, the Cap Lopez oil terminals or platforms. Port-Gentil has more restaurants, nightclubs and shops per capita than any other African city and also has a casino. The fishing is excellent.

Hazards

Yellow Fever immunisation is a must, providing all other injections are up to date. Malaria is rife with lots of Nivaquine-resistant mosquitoes. Port-Gentil has a decent hospital if you are unlucky enough to need one. Gabon is politically stable having been led by Omar Bongo since 1967. Water dangers include sharks, hippos and the strong equatorial sun.

Hints

Bring all your gear with you as local surfers may buy it for a fair price. You won’t need a gun as longboards/hybrids are ideal. The Solmar II sails between Libreville and Sâo Tomè on a regular basis; a one way ticket is under 100$US.