Early Jeffreys Bay

Jeffreys Bay has come a long way since it was discovered by surfers in the 1960’s and found to be home to the perfect wave.

Wavecrest before the houses were built.
Wavecrest before the houses were built. Photo: Robbie Irlam

The actual history of Jeffreys Bay can be traced back to the 21st January 1852, when MG Human and Co made an historic decision to put up forty erven for sale which were situated on the coast on their farm Klein Zeekoe Rivier (now Jeffreys Bay).

However it would take over a century before Jeffreys Bay would become an iconic destination known around the world.

The discovery of Bruce’s Beauties, at nearby St Francis Bay by Bruce Brown and his Endless Summer crew, saw surfers exploring the coastline, looking for more perfect waves.


It wasnt long before Jeffreys Bay was discovered and things were never going to be the same again.

Surfers from all over the world began making the pilgrimage to Jeffreys Bay to come and surf the perfect waves that break every winter along the reefs that line the Wavecrest beach front.

The Point was the first wave to be surfed, followed by Tubes and then surfers like Ant Van Der Heuwel took the plunge and began to surf at Supertubes.

Ant Van Der Heuwel was one of the pioneers of the surf lifestyle in Jeffreys Bay
Ant Van Der Heuwel was one of the pioneers of the surf lifestyle in Jeffreys Bay

Suddenly Jeffreys Bay was not just a small coastal village that was the holiday domain of the farmers from the region and a new breed of local residents were living here permanently.

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Bill Mitchell and Trust Bank also then began to carve out plots and laid roads and infrastructure in Wavecrest but it was to take many years before this suburb would be fully developed.

Da Gama Road in the early days
Da Gama Road in the early days

People from all over South Africa took advantage of the generous overdraft facilities offered by Trust Bank to put deposits down on plots in Wavecrest, and a new generation of holidaymakers began to spend the December holidays in Jeffreys Bay and to eventually retire to the quiet village.

marina aston bay road

By the early 1990’s another huge development added to the allure of Jeffreys Bay. Living on the canals at Marina Martinique became a reality, despite facing near bankruptcy through the Masterbond fiasco.

Today, Jeffreys Bay is a bustling town that is home to a permanent population of retired and working people alike.

Despite the discovery of other world class waves in place like Indonesia, Jeffreys Bay is still regarded as one of the best waves on the planet and hosts the annual JBay Winterfest surf contest – the JBay Open, which is a World Championship Tour event that takes place from 8 – 19 July.

Jordy Smith loves surfing at Jeffreys Bay. Photo: WSL
Jordy Smith loves surfing at Jeffreys Bay. Photo: WSL

Tourists now visit the town all year round and the December holidays still see Jeffreys Bay filled to capacity with people from all over South Africa spending their leisure time with family and friends in one of South Africa’s most loved holiday destinations.