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SUMMARY
+ Fairly consistent swells
+ Relatively safe
+ Tropical & uncrowded
+ Dry during the surf season
+ Chimpanzees, big fish, wildlife
- No world-class spots
- High costs
- Difficult traveling
- Often onshore
- Some health risks
Kustom



Republic of Congo, Pointe Noire, Congo, AFRICA


Piege a Sable, Stephane Mira

Surf Spots

Pointe Indienne
La Plage Sportive
La Pyramide
Djeno Point
M'Vassa

The Surf

Only expats working in the oil industry are likely to be in a position to surf in Pointe-Noire, so knowing someone who works there or at the very least speaking some French are essential to find waves in The Republic of Congo. Despite all the difficulties to get there, Pointe-Noire is one of the safest coastal cities in Africa and truly an oasis in a turbulent region and this short stretch of coastline provides a playground for ocean-lovers and wildlife alike. The warm, consistent waves have nurtured notable surfers like Jean-Luc Dupont or ex-WCT female Marie-Pierre Agraal, who learned their trade in Pointe-Noire. The Republic of Congo coastline measures 170km (106mi), compared to the short (40km/26mi) length of the often confused Democratic Republic of Congo’s coast to the south. The Rep of Congo’s shoreline is characterised by a succession of shaded bays and lagoons bordered by mangroves and only Pointe-Noire and Pointe Indienne stick out from the monotonous, straight beaches. Since the civil war ended in 1999, Pointe-Noire is quite safe, yet some parts of the country still remain sketchy and some fighting continues in the disputed Angolan exclave Cabinda, just over the southern border. Surfing started in the early ‘80s, led by Russian-Congolese kids like Jannick Laforge, Ferdinand Yidika, Dimitri Mamouna or Edouard Serge and the small surf population is growing steadily with bodyboarder kids and expat surfers. Most of the fishermen don’t know how to swim and are usually scared of entering the water. A lot of bodies have been found at Piège à Sable at the harbour lighthouse, inexperienced swimmers falling victim to the Atlantic rollers and rips.



When to Go

Because of the large continental shelf, waves tend to spill rather than plunge, but this power decay actually helps the waves to peel off, rather than closing-out severely like a steep beachbreak. If the S-SW onshore winds remain light and under 10 knots, the waves will be easy to ride up to 6ft (2m). Winter (Jun-Aug) sees more SE offshore winds that are generally lighter than summer. South Atlantic swells pound South Africa and Namibia, then often continue on to Angola and then Congo, aided by the Benguela Current which acts as a swell corridor. 2-3ft (0.6-1m) is the norm while 4-6ft (1.2-2m) swells happen several times a month during the winter season with 10ft (3m) days possible. The biggest swells just happen to coincide with the dry season, so June-August are the best months to surf the Congo. Semi-diurnal tides and a maximum tidal range of 6ft (1.8m).

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) 1-2 2-3 3-4 4 3 1-2
consistency (%) 30 50 80 80 60 30
dominant wind S -SW S -SW SE -S SE -S S -SW S -SW
average force F2-F3 F3 F2-F3 F2 F3 F3
consistency (%) 55 53 47 50 81 62
water temp (C) 27 28 24 21 24 26
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts springsuit boardshorts boardshorts
Population
Pointe Noire – 600,000

Coastline
Rep of Congo – 169km (105mi): DRC – 37km (23mi)

Timezone
GMT +1hr

Travel Information

Weather

Since Congo is located just south of the Equator, the climate is hot and humid year-round. Jan-Feb is the short dry season, March-May is the short wet season, June-Sept is the long dry season while Oct-Dec is the long wet season. Temps are relatively stable with little variation between seasons. Much greater variation occurs between day and night, when the difference can range 15°C. Annual average temps range between 20°C and 27°C (68-80ºF), although the cooling effect of the Benguela Current may produce lower temps (18°C/64ºF). The resulting cooling and condensation of the evaporated air produces prolonged and heavy rainfall from October or November through to May. Annual average rainfall is 1200mm (48in) but often surpasses 1800mm (72in). Use a shorty during July and August and boardshorts for the rest of the year.

Nature

Sightseeing spots include the Wharf des Potasses and Conkouati lagunas, the harbour (old lighthouse), the railway station district, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the happening beach. 5h north by 4WD is Conkouati Chimp reserve and the Diosso canyon is nearby. Only 45min to Tchissanga Monkey World. Surf-casting and deep sea fishing, plus hang-gliding.

Hazards

A yellow fever certificate and a really serious anti-malarial prophylactic, as some areas are chloroquine resistant. The heavy oil industry means you get occasional tar balls on the beach. Instability in the Pool Region has meant passenger trains between Brazzaville and Pointe Noire have stopped running.

Hints

One all-round board will be enough. Bagatelle surf shop my have changed it’s name, but it will still be expensive stuff! Don’t get mixed up between Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and the much larger Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) to the south and east. Check the nightclubs like Biblos, Colibri, Nels Club. Lots of cheap cyber-places. Speaking French makes life much easier!