South Africa is an amazing destination for sports tourism. It has hosted many high-profile sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup and the Indian Premier League1. Beyond watching sports, there’s a bunch of unique sports to play, too. You only have to see the number of betting sites with free registration bonus in South Africa to recognise their love of sport is big.

The South African sports tourism market is one of the fastest-growing segments of the tourism industry and generates billions of dollars per year. This article explores the opportunity that offers to visitors.

Unique sports to play in South Africa

There are many unique sports to try out when visiting South Africa. Here are the major 6 with the exclusion of obvious choices, like rugby.


Sandboarding is a popular sport that originated in South Africa. It involves sliding down sand dunes on a board that is similar to a snowboard. The sport is popular in the Western Cape, where you can find some of the largest sand dunes in the world. The Atlantis Dunes is a popular destination for sandboarding enthusiasts, and with dunes over 40 meters high, this is a good option.


The activity of descending down a cliff face while attached to a rope isn’t for everybody. But,  South Africa is home to some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world, making it an ideal location for giving it a go. The Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal is a popular option to consider, where there the mountains offer breathtaking views and challenging abseiling routes.

Crocodile-cage diving

For the truly adventurous, crocodile-cage diving is an experience that you’ll never forget. The sport involves getting up close and personal with one of the world’s most feared predators. The KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa is home to the largest crocodile farm in Africa. The farm offers visitors the opportunity to get inside a cage and be lowered into a pool filled with crocodiles. While it may sound irresponsible, the experience is completely safe and guided by experienced professionals.

Shark-cage diving

South Africa is one of the few places in the world where you can get up close and personal with one of the ocean’s most feared predators, the great white shark. Shark-cage diving is just like the crocodile one, only you’re in the ocean. Whilst the experience is generally safe, you will have no doubt seen some horror videos online. These are unusual, but it’s worth considering that freak accidents do happen.


South Africa is a country that is known for its love for running and has a rich tradition of hosting some of the most iconic marathons in the world. The Comrades Marathon, which is a 90-kilometer ultra-marathon that runs between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, is one of the most famous in the world. The marathon has been running since 1921 and attracts thousands of runners from around the world. The Two Oceans Marathon, which takes place in Cape Town, is another option to consider.

Sports events to watch in South Africa

If you’re also looking to catch some world-class athletes show us how it’s done, then there are a bunch of great live events to come and see.

Bodybuilding – Arnold Classic Sport Festival Africa

Hosted on 19-21 May 2023, the Arnold Classic Sport Festival Africa is a multi-sport bodybuilding event that attracts thousands of spectators from around the world. Founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the festival features over 90 sports and events taking place. The festival is usually held in Gauteng, South Africa, but it was postponed to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic1.


Mountain Biking – FNB Wines2Whales

The FNB Wines2Whales is a 3-day stage mountain bike race that takes place in the Western Cape of South Africa every year. It is named after the wines of the area and showcases some of the best trails and scenery in the country. For extreme sports lovers, this is a great 3-day live event to catch in Western Cape.

Cricket – CSA 4-Day Franchise Series

The CSA 4-Day Franchise Series is a first-class cricket tournament that takes place in South Africa every year. Six teams take part and are split into two groups. There are many games to catch, so this may be an event that will interest those into cricket.

South African Grand Prix

Formula One was working on a deal to see South Africa Grand Prix re-join the race calendar in 2023. However, the deal was never finalized yet due to various challenges. Securing funding and upgrading the Kyalami circuit were the main issues.

The calendar is subject to change, so there is still a possibility that South Africa might host a Grand Prix in 2023 if the deal is successful. However, many people are putting their eggs in the 2024 hopes.

Nguni stick-fighting

Nguni stick-fighting is a traditional martial art practiced by teenage Nguni herdboys in South Africa12. It is also a popular sport among some communities and helps to curb gang violence3. If you want to watch Nguni stick-fighting when you visit South Africa in 2023, you may have to look for local events or festivals that showcase this indigenous sport.