February 5th, 2024
9 minute read
Calling all travel bugs ready to ditch the scarf and coat for sunscreen and boardies, get ready to be even more tempted by a surf holiday! Australia’s East Coast is renowned for its diverse, widespread and world-class selection of surf beaches and locations. So, whether you’re a total newbie, have caught a couple of waves before or are a seasoned & laid-back longboarder, these eight, relaxed and lesser-known surf spots are any local’s go-to for a chill ride!
The sun’s out and the surf’s up, so let’s dive into our favourite surf spots on the East Coast!
While a lot of locals will point you to Tea Tree Bay or First Point as the “best” surf spots on the Coast, the ideal waves for any newbies learning to surf are undeniably at the Groyne! Located off the accessible, fairy-light-lit Hasting Street, grab your board and paddle out at this rolling, reliable break. It’s on the northern end of Noosa Main Beach, on the other side of the stone wall. You are guaranteed to run into other learners, so the vibes are welcoming. You can even rent a surf or stand-up paddleboard on the beach! Please note that this spot isn’t always patrolled by lifeguards, so make sure to practice surf safety at all times.
If you’re a fan of partying beachside, Gold Coast is of course on your East Coast road trip map! So, make the most of the gorgeous beaches of this region and surf off that hangover at the Alley in Currumbin. Smaller, long waves are created where creek meets ocean, so cruise along on beach time. Or, if you want something a bit more intermediate, Snapper Rocks is great for those who have nailed the basics and are looking for slightly bigger waves, there's a break-off at the point so the surf can be a bit more powerful. Give way to more experienced surfers here and enjoy the ride! More advanced riders must take a trip down to Kirra Beach for some of the longest barrels on the East Coast… you’ll be buzzing for days!
Landing in Gold Coast? Check out our guide on getting to Surfers Paradise from the Airport!
An unmissable and iconic Australian surf spot, no trip to Byron Bay is complete without shredding out the back of The Pass. This protected break attracts surfers from all over the world and is a bucket list item for every surf-crazed backpacker. Beginners usually stick to the inside, so be aware of who’s around you and always (always) surf to your ability. Get ready for super long, cruisy waves suited perfectly for mal riders.
Just 20 minutes south of Byron Bay, Lennox is famous for a wide variety of surf spots and a laid-back, more authentic vibe. Our top pick for beginners surfing in the area is Seven Mile Beach, along which is an array of gentle breaks. With ample room, you can get the hang of surfing without worrying about pissing off any locals with an accidental drop-in (eek). Once you get the hang of it, hit the main Lennox Head reef break and lap up some of the best waves on the East Coast.
Crescent Head is a charming local town with a rich surf history, situated in the middle of Sydney and Brisbane. The central, long right point is known for super lengthy waves perfect for beginners, particularly if you want to master a bit of board control or build up to hanging ten! You may even catch a local doing some yoga-esque headstands on these rolling waves. Don’t forget your surfer’s courtesy and respect for locals, and keep in mind that there are rocks underwater closer to the point.
A gorgeous gem of a surf town located 1.5 hours south of Sydney, you can’t miss Kiama (pronounced “kai-am-ah”) on your road trip of Australia’s East Coast. Grab your board down from the campervan roof and hit the reef break known as Boneyard. Don’t be put off by the name, Boneyard's actually an awesome, protected spot off a pebbly beach. Jones Beach, located closer to the centre of Kiama, is also a great spot to start. If you’re looking for a more guided, immersive local surf experience in Kiama, check out our surf camp packages!
Craving a beach escape while you’re exploring the bustling city of naam? While Bells Beach is undeniably the most famous spot in this area (Point Break anybody?), it’s not exactly a beginner-friendly choice. However, go for a paddle out at Torquay Surf Beach, where the swell isn’t usually as huge and the vibe is more beginner-friendly. The perfect way to get back to nature while you spend time in the urban jungle that is Melbourne, it’s just an hour’s drive from the city!
Down exploring lutruwita and want to catch some waves? This little island is surprisingly laden with awesome breaks. Don a (very warm) wetsuit, grab your board and catch a couple of smaller waves at Dodges Ferry’s Park Beach, 40 minutes from Hobart. A favourite spot amongst locals and city folk alike, join the line-up and cruise along the consistently cruisy waves. While the southern end of Park Beach is usually way more popular, the northern end features a river-meeting point, making for a bigger swell and interesting break for more practised surfers. Afterwards, get out of your wettie and into a snuggly jumper and head to the cosy, local Park Café for a tasty bite and flat white… you’re truly an Aussie surfer now!
It may be tempting to just grab a board and go for it, but always make sure you slow down so you don’t make a kook out of yourself on the water. With a couple of dangers to be mindful of, such as rips, rocks and angry locals, follow these handy steps before you paddle out to ensure a good time for everyone!
Download an app or simply Google the surf report. Magic Seaweed is an awesome, reliable option with a handy “star” system ranking the quality of the surf for those who don’t understand the nitty gritty of the wind, swell and tides. Heed any weather, wildlife and rip warnings with serious caution. If in doubt, ask the on-duty lifeguard or a local surfer.
Is your board suited to the conditions? Have you what you need to stay warm (wetsuit, booties, hood)? Have you got a leg rope? Does your board need a wax? Don’t be the person losing their board in the rough surf, or freezing half to death in chillier-than-expected waters! Invest in good gear and take care of it.
If you’re not a strong swimmer or are a bit nervous in the water, only surf breaks with on-duty lifeguards patrolling. There are spots on either side of the swimmer flags designated to surfers with clear signage… take advantage of this free safety service and surf in the flags! There are plenty of popular beginners breaks that don’t require you to paddle out very far, and these beaches are a great place to start. Check-in with yourself, slow down and listen to your limits!
Entering and exiting the surf within your abilities is just as important as the surfing part. A lot of point breaks may require you to enter from the rocks or jump in from a small cliff. Rocks are slippery, tides can be unpredictable and shore breaker waves can be brutal, so only jump in if you feel certain you can enter and exit the surf safely.
While the water may look glassy and calm, a wave can slam you into inconspicuous rocks, so always map out where the reef and rocks are before you paddle out.
Unlike currents and sharks, angry locals are not a natural danger. However, they can be pretty intimidating depending on where you surf in Australia. But don’t worry; it’s generally pretty easy to avoid a pissed-off surfer as long as you stick to the well-known surfer’s code… let’s go through the basics, shall we?
Otherwise known as “how to not be a kook,” follow these five steps to show respect and courtesy to your fellow surfers and the sea!
Ah yes, the golden rule of surfers all over the world. Always give way to the surfer closest to the peak of the wave, generally abiding by the rule of “one surfer per wave.” If you do accidentally drop in on somebody when you’re learning, make sure to apologise straight away and learn from your mistakes!
If you’re paddling into the peak of the wave, it’s pretty likely you’ll get in the way of the next surfer wanting to ride it. Keep to the outside of the action, and once you’re back out in the lineup, you can paddle parallel to the shoreline.
While it may be tempting to just ditch your board before you’ve learnt to duck dive under big sets, it’s so important to hold on to your surfboard. These heavy, flying masses with sharp fins can do a lot of damage when hurtling through the surf, so don’t endanger yourself or other surfers.
If you decide to not go for a wave and you’re next in line, communicate clearly to the next surfer in the lineup that it’s theirs. Communicating clearly and kindly, as well as listening attentively, with those around you makes the world of difference. We promise... you will eventually get used to the Aussie accent!
Like it or not, some breaks have a huge local culture that can be a bit unwelcoming for beginners. Mostly these situations occur when a learner is putting themselves and those around them in danger by surfing breaks beyond their ability. However, no matter what the situation, always wait your turn and respond to other surfers calmly.