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Surfing in Australia: 21 Best Spots & What To Expect! [2023]

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Surfing in Australia: 21 Best Spots & What To Expect! [2023]
Australia is known as the land of white sandy beaches and excellent surf. But where should you head for the best waves or learn the art of surfing in such a big country? Discover everything you need to know about surfing in Australia in my detailed guide...
Jessica Suess
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Jessica is a freelance writer, avid traveler, and capoeirista living in Brazil. A native Australian, she moved to the UK at 21 to study for a Masters in History at Oxford University and see more of the world. Since setting off, she has visited every populated continent, spending most of her time in Europe, China, Southeast Asia, and South America.

Read more about this author

What do you think of when you imagine Australia? White sandy beaches and surfers hitting the waves? 

Australia’s surfing scene might sound dramatic and stereotyped but it’s simply the truth. After all, if you haven’t surfed the Aussie style, you haven’t surfed at all!

Australia has some of the most exciting beaches with the best surf in the world. Plus, their surf culture is strong! 

This sounds like the dream vacation for surfing enthusiasts to me. Australia is home to serious surfers with unbelievable skills. 

Maybe you’re looking to head to Australia for these reasons too! If that’s the case, there’s also a tiny problem…

Excluding islands, Australia has 34,000 kilometers of coastline. So, I understand if you need help finding out exactly where you should surf! 

That’s why I’m here. In this article, I’ll take you through the incredible surf spots in each state and territory. 

I’ll also mention some ideal times to go, essential gear, and safety concerns while surfing in Australia.

When to Go Surfing in Australia?

Did you know that Australia is a fantastic southern island where summer lasts from November to February? 

And do you know what that means? Most parts of the country enjoy warm temperatures throughout the year, with just a few weeks of slightly cooler weather in July and August. 

While the water might be a tad cooler compared to other parts of the world, it can be so refreshing in the hot Australian sun. But with that comes the fair warning…

The hole in the ozone layer is located near Australia, meaning harmful UV rays can be pretty intense. 

That’s why Aussies always remember to “slip, slop, slap” and use sunscreen, hats, and long-sleeved clothing. You’ll see surfers wear full wetsuits to protect themselves from the sun, even during the summer!

If you’re a surfer, you might want to plan your trip between December and mid-April—that’s when cyclone and storm season hits, bringing with it the biggest and most powerful waves. 

Sure, there might be occasional rainstorms, but the waves are worth it. The swells may be smaller during the winter, but they’re still consistent. 

Plus, expert surfers can take advantage of the shorter waits for wave series. At the same time, beginners can enjoy learning in the smaller swells.

By the way, even though the off-season for surfing runs from September to December, there are still waves to be found. So don’t let that stop you from experiencing the beauty and fun of surfing in Australia!

Woman in a wetsuit on the beach holding a surfboard
Image Courtesy of Apolo Photographer on Unsplash

Are Australian Beaches Safe?

Heading to Australia and wondering about the safety of its beaches? It’s a totally valid question. 

While Australia has some of the world’s best surf, its beaches can also be more hazardous than those in other parts of the world.

The powerful currents that make for great waves can also create dangerous conditions, such as rips that can quickly pull you out to sea. 

But fear not! Experienced surfers can spot and escape rips, and newer surfers can use flotation devices for extra protection.

Undertows can also be challenging, as they can hold you underwater until the next wave. But with some awareness and caution, you can stay safe and avoid potential trouble.

Sharks are another concern in Australian waters, but many beaches have shark nets to prevent attacks. And while it’s true that some of Australia’s sea creatures are dangerous, such as sea snakes and jellyfish, it’s important to keep things in perspective. 

The perspective: These risks are minimal and avoidable if you’re not being too goofy!

If you’re new to surfing, consider sticking to beaches used by surf schools and monitored by surf lifesavers. These areas are safer for beginners and have been chosen based on tide conditions.

Surf lifesavers monitor all Australian beaches, even those without a lifeguard post, and provide signage indicating the current conditions. And for more experienced people, it’s still always a good idea to surf with a buddy and get advice from locals who know the conditions well.

Where Is the Best Surfing in Australia?

Planning a surf trip in Australia? Always double-check the travel time with your Aussie hosts. Because of the country’s vast size and well-maintained roads, Australians have a different perspective on distances. 

A 4-hour drive to a great beach is no big deal to them, and it’s common to make a day trip out of it. But that comes with a memorable, stress-free driving trip!


Snapper Rocks

Looking for the ultimate surfing experience on the Gold Coast? Look no further than Snapper Rocks! 

Thanks to a manmade Superbank, you’ll be treated to one of the longest wave rides in the world. It’s no wonder this beach is considered the cream of the crop.

But if the crowds at Surfers Paradise are too much for you, don’t worry! You’re never far from other top spots on the coast. And with plenty of surf schools and gear hire options available, there’s no excuse not to catch some waves.

For experienced surfers, Kirra Beach and Burleigh Heads are also top picks. Plus, you can find oh so many surfing lessons in Surfers Paradise!

A Woman Surfing On The Kirra Beach
Image Courtesy of AZ Animals

Noosa Heads

If you want a more relaxed and carefree surfing experience, consider heading north to Noosa and the Sunshine Coast. 

This area has a chilled-out, bohemian atmosphere that you’re sure to love. Noosa Heads is the perfect spot for experienced surfers up for a challenge, with plenty of great waves to ride. But if you’re just starting out, don’t worry! 

You can take surf lessons on Noosa Main Beach where the waves are more mellow and perfect for beginners. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-timer, you’re sure to have a blast surfing in Noosa.

King’s Beach

King’s Beach is a gem tucked away in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast. It boasts 50-meter wave runs that will have you stoked in no time. It’s also a popular tourist destination, so you can quickly refuel with a cup of joe from the many cafes around. 

If you’re a newbie, don’t worry because plenty of surf schools are around to help you catch your first wave.

But wait, there’s more! Coolum and Double Island Point are also great spots to catch some gnarly waves on the Sunshine Coast.

North Stradbroke Island

If you’re looking for rad waves just a hop and a skip outside of Brisbane, you must check out North Stradbroke Island! This little slice of paradise has excellent waves for all sorts of swell and wind conditions.

For the experienced shredders, don’t miss out on the epic right-direction, point break waves at Cylinder Beach with its sandy bottom. 

Plus, there’s a surf school and gear hire company right on the beach. Remember to respect the locals and avoid dropping in on their waves.

Kangaroo Near The North Stradbroke Island 
Image Courtesy of YHA Australia

Moreton Island

When I say that you absolutely can’t miss Moreton Island, I mean it! This little gem boasts beaches that face every direction, making it perfect for all kinds of surf conditions. 

But remember that there are no lifeguards on duty, so be extra careful. The strong rips can take you out several hundred meters in no time. 

With its stunning scenery and thrilling waves, Moreton Island is definitely worth the visit for any avid surfer.

Agnes Waters

Head further north from the Great Barrier Reef to the Gladstone Region and Agnes Waters. In my opinion, this is the most northerly surf beach in Queensland and worth the trip. 

You can expect excellent waves on some days, but on others, the surf can be tiny. To make the most of your trip, rely on your luck and surf prediction apps to decide when to hit the waves.

New South Wales

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach is famous for many things but mostly as the best surf spot in the country! And the better part? It’s super convenient for us city dwellers who wanna catch some waves before or after work. 

The sand is so golden, and the water is crystal clear blue—it’s absolutely stunning. Experienced surfers will love the powerful right-hander waves created by the perfect swell, and there are plenty of surfboard hire places for travelers or lessons for beginners.

Bondi Beach During Sunset
Image Courtesy of Sydney, Australia

Manly Beach

Manly isn’t just a great surf spot, but also a lively and bustling hub for beachgoers and surfers alike. The beachfront is lined with cafes, bars, and restaurants, perfect for grabbing a bite or a drink after a long day in the water. 

The beach is known for its long, sandy shore and crystal-clear water, making it a popular destination for swimmers and sunbathers as well. But for those looking for a thrill, Queenscliff and Freshwater Beach offer some of the best waves in the area for experienced surfers.

Byron Bay

This hippie town in northern New South Wales is a popular tourist destination. Byron has lots of shops, restaurants, and cool camping. But it all started with excellent surfing! 

Beginners can take lessons at the main beach while checking out the city’s other attractions. 

Serious surfers will want to head to Tallow Beach and Wategos Beach. There are more challenging waves and less beginner traffic. Non-surfers can swim, kayak, and snorkel nearby.

Book a half-day surf lesson session at Byron Bay if you’re still getting used to the board!

If Byron is too busy for you, the whole stretch of coast between Sydney and the Queensland border is pretty good. There are easterly trade swells in the summer and south groundswells in the autumn and winter. Temperatures are warm enough year-round.

Lennox Heads

Lennox Heads is one of Australia’s National Surfing Reserves. This is a location for experienced surfers and delivers consistent right-hand point breaks. 

You’ll likely come across quite a few big names in the sport while taking on the waves. Despite being a bit daunting, the beach can get very crowded.

If you’re in New South Wales, you’ll also want to visit the Hunter Valley Wineries.

A Woman Holding A SurfBoard Looking At The Lennox Heads Beach
Image Courtesy of Visit North Coast NSW


Bells Beach

Australia’s south coast may be on the chilly side but is also known for excellent waves. 

Bells Beach is about a 90-minute drive from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. It’s known for being home to the professional Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach competition!

Watch the surf from the surrounding rock cliffs before picking your spot. If the waves aren’t to your liking, head to nearby Torquay, Lorne, Ocean Grove, or Anglesea. 

You can also pick up lessons at all these surfing hotspots.

Camp Woolamai, Phillip Island

Also, only about an hour and a half from Melbourne and can be reached by car over a bridge. Here you’ll find Camp Woolamai, known to be one of Chris Hemsworth’s favorite surf spots. 

The beaches here have excellent and solid waves for experienced surfers. But there are few facilities around the beach. 

This is perfect for communing with the waves, but there are no surf schools or rental facilities. There’s a local Koala Conservation Center where you can visit the famous Penguin Parade.

Smith’s Beach is nearby and is another National Surfing Reserve. This is a better spot for beginners.

Thirteenth Beach

Thirteenth Beach is a 7-kilometer stretch located not far from Geelong. There’s a consistent low to moderate swell providing excellent wave breaks. This is also a great area for golfers and foodies!

Victoria is also known for its excellent wine, and you should plan a trip to the Yarra Valley wineries. Maybe hit the wineries after your surf session—no surfing and drinking, please!

Stairs At The Thirteenth Beach
Image Courtesy of RiverView Family Caravan Park

South Australia

Yorke Peninsula

Yorke Peninsula is a 2-hour drive from Adelaide. It’s another Aussie town with an unmistakable laid-back beach vibe. 

Here you’ll find the Daly Head National Surfing Reserve. The best surf is between Corny Point and Innes National Park but beware of string rips.

Fleurieu Peninsula

The Fleurieu Peninsula is located a 45-minute drive from Adelaide. Here you’ll find Christie’s Beach, Southport, Seaford, Moana, and Sellicks Beach. 

One of these is bound to have good surf on any given day. Large swells from the open southern ocean mean strong swells and sound waves. But there are intense rips that can be dangerous for beginners.

Eyre Peninsula

As you drive along the Great Ocean Road, plenty of excellent surf beaches exist. The most popular lie between Whyalla and Ceduna, forming the Eyre Peninsula. 

Flowers Beach is the most popular with locals, and Cactus Beach is famous for both left and right-hand breaks. The water can be chilly, so pack a full-body wetsuit and look out for sharks.

Aerial View Of A Woman Floating On The Greenly Beach On The Eyre Peninsula
Image Courtesy of South Australia

Western Australia

Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is a short ferry ride from Perth and is one of the remote state’s incredible surf spots. There are 60 beaches to choose from on the island. 

Strickland Bay, Salmon Bay, and Stark Bay are the most popular for serious surfers. The island feels untouched with its white sand dunes and plentiful quokkas!

Margaret River

Margaret River is one of the destinations for the World Surf League’s Championship Tour. It has the west coast’s best surf! 

130 kilometers of beach deliver 75 different surf breaks with some of the biggest waves in Australia.

Experienced surfers will want to head to The Box and North Point. Beginners can get started in Smiths Beach.


Gnaraloo is remote, about a 12-hour drive north of Perth. But when you arrive, you’ll find 57 kilometers of cliffs and reefs producing excellent surf. 

Expert surfers might want to take on Tombstones, which is exactly as intense as it sounds! Expect strong barrels. Fencelines are friendlier with a sandy bottom. Gnaraloo Bay is also relatively chilled. 

But there are no beginner beaches here!

Aerial View Of The Gnaraloo Beach
Image Courtesy of Gnaraloo Station

Northern Territory

Australia’s northern beaches are among the most dangerous. They’re home to sharks, crocodiles, and box jellyfish! Surf locations are limited, and enter at your own risk.


Casuarina is close to Darwin. Offshore winds hit an exposed beach break for a consistently good swell year-round. Experienced surfers will appreciate short waits between wave series, and beginners will thrive on moderate-strength waves.

Rapid Creek

Rapid Creek is the most famous surf spot in the Northern Territory. Close to Darwin, the Creek has reliably good surf throughout the year. Groundswells and wind swells produce both left and right breaks. But watch out for box jellyfish, crocodiles, sharks, stingrays, and rips!

A Person Surfing On The Rapid Creek Beach
Image Courtesy of Surf Forecast

Australian Surfing FAQs

How Many People Get Killed Surfing in Australia per Year?

Around 26 people die surfing in Australia each year. Shark attacks steal the headlines, but rip currents are the most significant danger to surfers. 

Around a third of people who get caught in rips need rescue help to return to safety.

How Popular Is Surfing in Australia?

Surfing is extremely popular in Australia, with 2.5 to 3.5 million active surfers. That’s a lot considering a population of 26 million. With many surfers, it can be easy to spot fights over disputed waves.

Do You Need a Wetsuit to Surf in Australia?

If you’re surfing in Victoria or South Australia, you’ll want to wear a full wetsuit to deal with the cold waters. Waters on the east coast are much warmer but can still be chilly compared to other parts of the world. 

But even when the water is warm, some surfers choose to wear thin wetsuits. This is for sun protection and to protect against irritants such as bluebottle stings.

What Is Santa Surfing?

Christmas is a summer holiday in Australia. Surfers will get into the spirit by wearing Santa suits while catching waves. At Sydney’s Bondi Beach, you can see hundreds of Santas entering the water together.

People Surfing On The Beach Wearing Santa Claus Suit In Australia
Image Courtesy of Guinness World Records

Plan Your Surf Trip to Australia!

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, Australia’s a great place to hit the waves. Plan your upcoming epic surf trip to Australia with Pilot!

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In a world increasingly scarce of authenticity and trust, we want to make sure that the content we release to travelers around the world is accessible, accurate, authentic, and a-written with the same love of travel we all share.
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Jessica Suess
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Jessica is a freelance writer, avid traveler, and capoeirista living in Brazil. A native Australian, she moved to the UK at 21 to study for a Masters in History at Oxford University and see more of the world. Since setting off, she has visited every populated continent, spending most of her time in Europe, China, Southeast Asia, and South America.

Read more about this author
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