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Selina

Stormrider Guide to surfing Luanda and Bengo

Angola, AFRICA


Cabo Lado, Olivier Michaud

Summary

+ Easy, long left pointbreaks - Windy, exposed spots
+ Consistent swells - Costly flights and visas
+ Warmish water - Post war rebuilding
+ Undiscovered - Sharks and crocs

The surfing areas in Luanda and Bengo are south of the capital, Luanda. It's expensive to get around and 4x4 is crucial for exploration, but tourism infrastructure is growing with beach hotels at fishing towns like Cabo Ledo, where long lazy lefts provide quality rides for all surfing abilities.

When to Go

Long range 4-8ft swell with long 15 second periods are most likely to hit from April to September, although at this latitude, some power has been lost along the way. The dominant S-SW winds start blowing from 10am so only the protected spots will break in the afternoon.. Some windswell waves can be observed whenever SE trades off Namibia blow with strength for a long period of time, but these swells will only reach the S-facing spots.and the tidal range never exceeds 5ft. As far as the semi-diurnal tides go, the range never exceeds 5ft max, with a slight diurnal inequality.

Surf Spots

The beaches closest to the capital city Luanda are not worth considering for foreign visitors with mushy beachbreaks at more suited to kitesurfing. Buraco is a gem, breaking close to shore down a sandy point with excellent shape and length. Long, leg-aching rides with some hollow sections over the ever-changing sands. Best at lower tides and S winds not a problem. Without a booming SW or moderate W swell it will be flat. Palmeirinhas hosts Shipwreck that picks up a lot of swell, but is also very exposed to the wind. This tubular spot needs to be hit early as it gets blown out by 10am. Drive to a more sheltered spot if the swell exceeds 6ft. The sunken freighter is now gone so finding it can be guesswork without a guide. Onça is a reliable beachbreak used by Angola Waves during small swells, not far from Miradouro, a short left pointbreak breaking in murky water with the major danger coming from falling cliffs. It needs a 4x4 at the best of times and is impassable with rain. South of the Cuanza river is Barra da Cuanza with several spots that are hardly ever ridden because of tough access. One of the three reefs is the only right in Angola, nestled under multi-coloured cliffs. Just remember not to paddle across the river because of sharks and crocs! Sangano is another long left, breaking in front of a large fishing village nestled below the escarpment. Usually has something fun for everyone on 2 sandy sections with scattered rocks. Much prefers low tide and offers good S wind protection on the inside beach section. More lefts to the north. Scalloped bay that’s tucked away beneath the sea cliffs, Queiroz starts fast and hollow then offers high-speed walls and barrels for up to 400m. Definitely experts only and tricky to get to without a guide. Doce Mar beachbreaks offer easier rides for all abilities, a bit further south. Cabo Ledo has a NW-facing set-up that makes this a world-class pointbreak when measuring the fun factor. Really long lefthanders peel down the sandbank for up to 800m with predictable walls, tapered shoulders and it actually works best with a small swell making it ideal for less-experienced surfers. The first outside section facing the rocks has the most power and steepness, while the inside is usually glassy as the SW-W onshores are deflected by the headland. As the swell increases, the rips get pretty horrendous, but luckily, it is an easy walk back past the fish drying racks and out the point to jump in at the peak. Towards the Namibian border is a long stretch of coast with colder water but many more unsurfed, quality, left pointbreaks. Rio Seco is a W swell low tide beachbreak, while Porto Amboim, Kitoba and Sumbe are all lefthand pointbreaks in SW swells and higher tides.

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 4 4-5 3-4 1-2
consistency (%) 40 60 80 90 70 50
dominant wind S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW S -SW
average force F3 F3 F2-F3 F2 F2-F3 F3
consistency (%) 59 57 58 51 70 70
water temp (C) 26 26 24 21 23 25
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts springsuit springsuit boardshorts

Travel Information

Weather
The Benguela current substantially reduces rain along the coast and in Luanda, the average annual rainfall is as low as 50cm. The rainy season is from November to March/April. The dry season (cacimbo) is often characterised by a heavy morning mist and holds the region to only 200 days of sunshine per year. The coolest months are July and August 18-25°C. Springsuits are probably only necessary on a windy day in June-September when water temps drop beneath 22°C.

Lodging and Food
Costs a fortune. International Hotel chains (Meridien, Continental) range from $250/n. Cheapest hotels would be $80/n. Angola Waves has 8 day, all-inclusive overland packages for $1050. Cabo Ledo is becoming a tourist hub with lots of hotel construction going on and investment in the local infrastructure.

Nature and Culture
Quissama National Park flanks the Atlantic for 120km, just south of the Cuanza River. Apart from world-class fishing with huge river tarpon there is a golf course and nightlife in town. Good place to buy diamonds.

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