Set Waves At Muizenberg Beach

The entrance to False Bay is roughly 30KM wide and within the bay it fluctuates up to 40KM wide, that doesn’t sound like a lot of room for those precious set waves to squeeze in and make a decent splash on Muizenberg beach – but they do and at times they can provide some epic waves!

Set waves in False Bay

Set waves in False Bay clearly visible

What is a set wave?
A set wave is a collection of waves that arrive one after the other, typically the number of waves in a set range from 2 up to 10 waves. They originate from the motion of the ocean from large storms and can travel many thousands of kilometers before they break on the sandy shores of Muizenberg beach.

Why do waves come in sets?
A storm out to sea generates energy and this is translated into the ocean and waves – the winds in that storm are not 100% consistent and tend to gust just like on land. When the energy (swell) pushes out from the storm the waves tend to be bond together and form sets of waves, these then travel through the ocean until they break onto a beach or point or even reef.

Longboarding wave

A small but perfectly formed set wave at Muizenberg beach.

Overall at Muizenberg beach there are waves galore and you tend not to have to sit and wait for a set to come. But on those rare perfect days when a good swell in entering the bay there will be a definite wait for the set to arrive.

Do set waves always arrive in groups of 7?
No, the amount of waves in a set can vary from 2 up to 10 waves – but the rule of seven is an old surfers/fisherman’s myth.

Is the last wave in the set always the biggest?
Yes and no 😊 it depends on the storm that generated the swell, the bathymetry (is a sandy bottom, rocky, is there a slope?) and also the strength of the tides on that day.

What creates a wave?
Friction of the wind blowing across the surface of the ocean is the most common type of wave generation. The continuing disturbance of the water eventually creates a wave and then energy is transferred into the ocean.

Set waves

Set waves

What does the tide do?
High tide means the water is closer into the beach and low tides tends to mean the ocean is further out from the beach. The tides are controlled by the gravitational forces from the moon and to a lesser extent to the sun. The tides are regular and can be timed roughly to change every 6 hours.

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