RidersJoin The Spot
General InformationLevel:4-10 Season:April 1 — July 31
Located on Durban's 'Golden Mile', XL is one of the southern beaches in Durban and takes its name from the old restaurant/takeaway/congregating point (which has now been demolished), and has nothing to do with the size of the waves on offer.
The weather is normally warm and pleasant and you can surf in your trunks most of the year round. In winter the water and air temperature can get a little nippy, but you'll more than likely just need a wetsuit top or springsuit to keep you comfortable.
With the overloaded, under-staffed Addington Hospital as a back-drop, XL isn't the most picturesque beach ever, but you soon forget about that once you're in the water.
Generally speaking, XL is known as a beginners' beach, but if you get it on the right swell and wind the waves can be really fun, ranging from 2ft to 5ft.
The banks are fairly fickle and the waves can change drastically in the space of half an hour, but, due to the sand pumping which has been taking place at uShaka, the banks have definitely become more consistent. About 100m offshore (depending on the tide) you'll find the old wreck which is submerged at high tide. The wreck is too small to effect the quality of the waves either way.
XL, like all the other beaches in Durban, works best on a light SW wind, which is the offshore wind in Durban. The southwesterly is normally accompanied by cloud or rain in summer, because it is generated by cold fronts moving up the coast from Cape Town.
In Autumn/Winter (March to end of August), you find land breezes happening fairly often. These take place when the land cools down quicker than the sea and it generates an early morning wind which moves straight offshore and normally backs off by mid morning at the latest.
These land breezes groom the waves beautifully during the early hours of the morning and you'll often wake up to find sunshine and a perfectly glassy sea.
A swell which is more southerly normally misses XL because it is blocked by the harbour wall. But if a swell has a bit more of an easterly direction, XL comes alive and you could be lucky enough (depending on what the banks are doing at the time) to find a nice outside wave on the low tide, or a fun shorey on the high tide.
Due to the recent Durban Beach overhaul for the soccer world cup last year, XL has become a much more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing beach.
Unfortunately, you still find a lot of vagrants in these parts but, for the most part, they're harmless. Of course, being South Africa, there are always the bad elements, but you just need to be a little bit more vigilant in terms of your car and belongings.
Never ever leave your belongings on the beach while you surf, they will go 'missing' in the blink of an eye. Some of the car guards in the area are trustworthy and you can leave your keys with them, if you have any doubts as to whether they are savory or not, rather put your key in your leash or surf trunks.
In terms of safety, XL is one of the safest beaches in Durban (in the water at least ;-). There are lifeguards on duty who are fully equipped in the event of an emergency.
You do sometimes find heavy rips, so that's something to watch for, but generally speaking, there are no currents.
The bottom is mostly sand, but you may find the odd rock or two exposed after a storm.
There are sea creatures which are mostly harmless. You'll find fish, rays, dolphins on occasion and there is probably the odd shark or two, but they're not really a threat. Don't surf during the sardine run though, which happens in winter normally, you don't want to find yourself in the mix when there's a feeding frenzy.
One other thing to watch for are blue bottles, these guys are all over the show when the onshore blows (NE) and pack a nasty wallop, so be warned.
Locals are not normally an issue. You may find one or two guys from the 'old guard' getting a bit grumpy when there are too many surfers in the water, but by and large you'll be greeted with a smile and a friendly 'howzit' (slang for 'hello').