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'The Western Cape - it's our little slice of paradise.'

Gems in this

Photo>>>Gulshan Khan


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Feature by Alix-Rose Cowie; Interview: Michael Canning

After school every day, Tanika Hoffman’s mum would drive her to Long Beach in Kommetjie so she could surf. Soon the whole family moved to the tiny surf town in Cape Town’s ‘deep south’ and Tanika became a pro surfer. 

She credits her family for her love of the ocean and the great outdoors. When she’s not in the water surfing or freediving, she could be up a mountain or on a game drive. She shares her perfect day driving along the picturesque False Bay coastal road, stopping in Simon’s Town, Cape Point and Scarborough. And it all starts by swimming with penguins. 


On where you grew up

I grew up in Kommetjie. It's a quaint little town that’s all about beach life and surf life. I think pretty much everyone who lives there surfs or does some form of ocean activity. It was the perfect little hub to grow up in and develop my love for surfing. I've lived in Cape Town my entire life and when I first started surfing, I lived in Tokai, closer to Muizenberg, which is also a really good place to learn to surf. Shortly afterwards, we moved to Kommetjie because it's a little surf hub and my mum was driving me there pretty much every day after school. So eventually the family just made the move because they loved the town anyway. There are a couple surf spots in Kommetjie: there's Long Beach, which I live closest to and surf most days, and then there's Inner Kom, which is closer to the lighthouse, which is also a really fun wave. I used to often find an excuse to not go to school so that I could go surfing when there was no one else in the water.


On where your passion for surfing began

It's hard to say where my passion for surfing comes from because no one else in my family surfs. But I do have my family to thank for my love of the outdoors and the ocean, because we grew up going to the beach and going on hikes and just always being outside and exploring. I think when I discovered a way to merge my two passions and loves of being in the water and being outdoors, I became completely hooked on surfing. I just love being able to be surrounded by this big beautiful body of water and just riding waves. It fascinated me; it was my favourite thing to do. I mean, it still is.

‘We have so many different breaks and waves for all different levels of surfing… you get to learn in all different kinds of conditions.’

Production: Exceptional ALIEN (Creative Studio); Dare Content (Production Company); Chris Coetsee (EP); Matt Bouch (Producer); Jared Paisley (DOP); Gulshan Khan (Photographer); Deon Knipe (Sound Recording). Post-production: The Editors; Nicolette Rousianos (EP); Liv Reddy (Head of Production); Matt Edwards (Online); Corey-Jay Walker (Online Assist); Shannon Michaelas (Main Offline Editor); Grace Eyre and Grace O’Connell (Offline Editors); Shukry Adams (Stills Clean & Grade); Matt Fezz (Colourist); Bonsta (Sound Design).

On what makes the Western Cape good for surfing

Cape Town has such a beautiful jagged coastline, and we have so many different breaks and waves for all different levels of surfing, so you get to grow and evolve and you don't end up being good at just one particular thing. We go from beach breaks, we have the odd points, we have reefs, we have slightly heavier slabs, so you get to learn in all different kinds of conditions and at various spots. Whereas in some other places, you grow up and you surf a certain beach every single day. As much as I surfed Long Beach pretty much every day, there was still the opportunity to explore and learn different breaks and surf different waves.

On your relationship with travel

I have travelled a lot. I think you learn so much about yourself, as well as the places that you travel to. The excitement of travel draws you in: not knowing what challenge is going to get thrown at you next, not knowing how you're going to overcome that next obstacle, not knowing the people you're going to meet or the lessons you're going to learn. Travel really allows you to grow and develop and figure out who you are — and at the same time, learn about incredible places and meet different people and just be on the most epic adventure.

On what you love about the Western Cape

I absolutely love the Western Cape of South Africa, it’s an epic place. There’s just so much to explore and you can drive to so many different places. We actually have a joke amongst surfers, because sometimes we’re just on such a mission to go on an adventure that we end up driving to six different surf spots and don't surf anything, but you had the best day. Cape Town is stunning and it has literally so much to offer. It has a little bit of everything, so it's perfect for someone like me who just likes exploring, adventure and the outdoors. I've done Table Mountain a few times: I've hiked it and I've gone in the cable car. It’s obviously easier in the cable car! The hike is quite steep, but there are various routes to go up — it’s a beautiful hike. In Cape Town, you can do so much in one day. You can go from doing the hike up Lion’s Head or Table Mountain to a beautiful beach afternoon. And you can have really good food and see a museum and watch the sunset, all in one day. So we have so much to offer; there’s so much to embrace and love about Cape Town.

All images of Tanika Hoffman at Boulders Beach and Tintswalo at Boulders by Gulshan Khan for Exceptional ALIEN.

‘We have the most beautiful coastline, mountain ranges and crystal-clear oceans.’

On your perfect day along Western Cape's False Bay Coast

I love the False Bay Coast. It's beautiful in the morning. It's got that stunning sunrise light. Seeing the penguins at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town is such a happy way to start your morning. They just bring so much joy and they’re beautiful to watch. You can swim with the penguins or you can have a beach stroll surrounded by happy little feet waddling along the beach. It's also really sheltered from the wind, between all the boulders. Tintswalo at Boulders is stunning; their view is so beautiful, you can watch the penguins swim, you can watch the sunrise and they have the most delicious breakfast.

On where to go diving

If you're on that coast and you've had the most beautiful morning at Boulders, I would definitely recommend freediving in one of the many kelp forests. If you’re not an experienced freediver, you could even just have a swim and see the beautiful sea anemones and starfish, and, if you’re lucky, a seal. They’re the dogs of the ocean, they’re super fun and playful to dive with. I definitely recommend a wetsuit because it can get quite chilly. All equipment can be rented from Pisces Divers, and they also offer some wonderful experiences. You can go on ocean safaris with them, they can take you on freediving and scuba diving courses, and a whole lot more. 

On the best coastal drive (and where to eat along the way)

We have the most incredibly beautiful coastline and mountain ranges, with our crystal-clear oceans. I love driving into Cape Point Nature Reserve — you can explore the tidal pools, you can have picnics on the beautiful white sand beaches. There's the odd surf spot too if you're feeling super adventurous. There's something so special about seeing the wildlife on the beach. It's one of the few places where I've seen zebras, ostriches and antelope just roaming along the sand. It's a very special place. From Cape Point, you can continue along the coast and you'll get to Scarborough, which is the most beautiful little quaint beach town. The Village Hub in Scarborough is one of my favourite lunch spots. It has a restaurant, Sopra, and the Foragers Deli, which has produce from the surrounding areas, whether it be cheese or fresh herbs and organic vegetables. They have some really great dips and sauces, and their bakery is absolutely delicious. For lunch, I really enjoy the pizzas. For dinner, The Aegir Project is a really cool restaurant in Noordhoek, which is just out of Kommetjie. It's got a really cool vibe. They often have live music, it's got a nice little bar, and really good food. I think I could potentially live off their cauliflower burger – it's delicious.


First row of Cape Point. Second, third and fourth rows of Tanika at The Village Hub. All images by Gulshan Khan for Exceptional ALIEN.

On other places to see in South Africa

Whenever I have friends coming to visit Cape Town or South Africa, I tell them you need weeks, if not months – there's so much to see! The Garden Route drive is absolutely stunning, and it depends how much time you have, but if you continue driving, you hit the Transkei, which is definitely one of my favourite places. I think of it as one of the most authentic parts of South Africa. It's just so untouched, which makes it really, really special. There are big cows roaming the beaches. 

‘There’s just something so special about seeing all those big beautiful creatures in their natural environment… You can drive two hours from a busy town and there are elephants roaming free, or zebras in the wild.’

On safari

The safaris I’ve done have been along the Garden Route. Gondwana Game Reserve is one of my favourites. It's just slightly smaller than some of the big game reserves and it's got the Big Five. You’re almost guaranteed to see everything. Another one along that coast just a little bit further up, is Pumba Private Game Reserve a little closer to Gqeberha. It’s equally as beautiful. Most tourists visit the Kruger National Park; it's massive and there are some of the most beautiful reserves within it. I've never visited it, but I've seen pictures; I feel like it needs to be on my bucket list. But I love the smaller game reserves. There are some cool ones where you can just do day trips. There's something so special about seeing all those big beautiful creatures in their natural environment, and the fact they are able to just live and be, while so close to civilization. You can drive two hours from a busy town and there are elephants roaming free, or zebras in the wild. It's really, really special. 

First row of Tanika by by Ana Nielsen for Exceptional ALIEN. All other images by Gulshan Khan for Exceptional ALIEN. Second and third rows of Tanika surfing in Kommetjie. Fourth and eighth rows of Chapman’s Peak Drive. Fifth, sixth and seventh rows of The Aegir Project.

On the concept of ubuntu to you

I would say ubuntu means the way South Africa embraces its diversity and its unity. It’s about how we all have each other's backs and support each other. I think it's just love and being embracing of everything we have to offer in our beautiful country.

On a song that sums up the Western Cape

I don't know if I can think of one particular song, but there's an artist called Jeremy Loops who grew up in Kommetjie where I grew up, and we kind of lived and surfed there at the same time. I think he captures the vibe of Cape Town and the Western Cape so perfectly in his music. It’s really vibey and fun but at the same time super laid-back.

On a window or aisle seat

I definitely prefer window seats. 

On the Western Cape in one word

I would probably have to choose ‘unique’ because of how uniquely beautiful it is. I think its landscape, its people and the places you can visit make it one of the most unique places in the world. 


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'The Western Cape - it's our little slice of paradise.'