6 Best Surf Spots in Australia
Australia may be known as the “Land Down Under”, and not usually the first place that occurs to folks for a care-free vacation getaway, but… this continent is a true gem when it comes to wide open beaches, exotic animals, deserts, unusual plants, and, of course, their extremely friendly residents.
Of course, everybody knows that Aussies have a reputation for being extremely hospitable people, but the fact that they have some the best and most unique spots for surfing in the whole world is a less widely known fact.
Here’s a quick sneak preview of one of the beaches we’re going to talk about – Snapper Rocks!
The Commonwealth of Australia spreads across the entire Australian continent, and extends to the island of Tasmania and several other smaller islands.
It is the place where Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties are celebrated on the beaches in swim suits, rather than under a blanket of snow, and where kangaroos and koalas are more common than dogs and cats, and the place where you can enjoy the sunshine almost the entire year.
In this article, we will focus on some of the incredible surf spots with huge waves that will make seasoned surfers want to book a round trip ticket to Australia to check things out ASAP. Don’t go away though, even if you are just a kook, hodad, or gremlin, or even a non-surfer. Once you see these gnarly Australian beaches with all these heavies, you might want to give it a go!
If you’re worried about the size of the some of the waves, some of these beaches are definitely ideal for beginners, or for people who have never even tried to stand on a surfing board.
Every day, thousands of people learn how to tame those big waves, and get addicted to surfing. The best thing about it is, that you can start whenever you want, no matter how old you are – all you need is a board and a strong will to learn.
And once you taste the adrenaline that comes from surfing, you might never want to stop. Some of those surfing junkies will tell you that there is nothing better in the world than this activity, including sex, food or winning the lottery.
On the other hand, you might find you are attracted to the mellower side of surfing. Sometimes just catching a little wave can really ground you and make you feel your connection to the world.
Either way, surfing provides a feeling you can’t get anywhere else. And Australia is a land unlike anywhere else, so you’re bound to get something from it if you just pay one of these beaches a little visit.
Chances are, if you talk to a professional surfer who has traveled the world and who has spent a lot of time in the “Green Room”, they will point out at least one Australian beach for sure.
Ok, we don’t want to seem like a huge dweeb, so let’s get on with this…
6 Best Surf Spots in Australia
#1 – Snapper Rocks – Gold Coast, Queensland
This beach was named by W.L. Edwardian, who was the captain of HM Colonial Cutter Snapper that passed by Point Danger in July 1822 (read this fascinating Aussie historical pdf to hear the full story of this region’s discovery). Back then, our good captain surely didn’t know that his little discovery would eventually turn out to be a surfer’s paradise nearly 200 years later.
Today, this place attracts surfers from all over the continent, and the world really, and is definitely a heavenly place, both as a surf spot, and just as a location on our planet.
The water is different shades of blue and green, and the waves are crashing constantly, with an intensity rarely seen (hey, that rhymes). Here, you can truly let loose and give into your surfing passion. Surfing these cresting waves feels like writing a poem or a song on the water. It’s really that beautiful, and whether you really want to find the biggest wave possible, or just lounge in the surf, it’s a great place to be.
You can only imagine (if you haven’t been there) what sort of magic happens when the Tasman and Coral Seas join to make such glorious waves. Certain days, if you’re lucky, you can have multiple tube rides, and for a surf addict, that is one of the most desired experiences.
Don’t be surprised to see waves reaching a few meters in height. They go on and on from Snapper, through Rainbow Bay to Greenmount, towards Kirra Point, which is as famous as Snapper Rocks, and is yet another Australian surf paradise.
Here, you will see hundreds of surfers… professionals, addicts, semi-pros, beginners, or just enthusiasts.
Very often this place is called “human soup”, and you can imagine why. The one thing that can make the surfing experience dangerous and not so fun is board collisions. Look out for those! Make sure you are catching the waves from the main take-off zone. The power of some of these waves can easily send an inexperienced surfer heading towards the rocks, and you wouldn’t want to experience that.
#2 – Pambula Rivermouth – South Coast, New South Wales
Follow the road that goes down to Pambula, and once you get to Pamubla, follow the signs to Pambula Beach. From here you can walk around the rocks to the river mouth. Pambula Rivermouth, as the name says, is a place where the Pambula River enters the sea.
This place is easy to find, and there is a little beach on the river that is pretty popular among families. But, this beach is not why you’d go there, unless you have people with you who don’t surf, and who’d be better off tanning or swimming in the shallow waters.
Pambula Rivermouth is another ideal place for surfing and riding super large waves. Just see the pictures – huge waves, lots of surf boards, jet skis, kayaks, and many, many enthusiasts hungry for the best surf ever.
The locals adore this place, and often come over to let loose with their boards. It may seem easy and fun, but these waves are not exactly a ‘piece of cake’ to ride, and sometimes they can be a big challenge – even to some pros – but once you try them out, you’ll never want to get out of the water.
#3 – Winkipop – Surf Coast, Victoria
One point down from the Victorian point break of Bells Beach, you will find, as it often has been called, it’s little brother, Winkipop. This is another right hand point break; if you have a good day this is a world class surfing place.
No wonder the popularity of this place continues to grow. It is perhaps one of the most popular surfing points, and it is packed during the weekends. Surfing during the early weekdays is perhaps a better idea, if you don’t want to wait on the coast for a little spot in the water where you’ll be able to get out there.
On smaller swells you can paddle straight out, but if it is larger, it is safer to paddle in off the beach. If you decide to go to Winkipop, you should know that this is the place where the world’s longest-running boardriding competition is held.
Winkipop is known as the place where huge waves are created in a magical way, and you better not miss that if you’re a surfer.
Another thing that you should keep in mind is the “button” section. It can be a real problem when paddling out on days when the waves are gigantic. If you are not careful, you may seriously injure yourself, or end up dead like Torquay surfer John Pawson, who lost his life in 1984.
#4 – Martha Lavinia Beach – King Island, Tasmania
Located about half an hour drive from Currie, King Island’s main town, this place will take your breath away with its beauty – long sandy beach, incredibly bluish-turquoise water, and the largest and most elegant waves you have ever seen.
The land itself is surrounded by protected nature reserves, about 495 acres of it, and over one kilometer of wide beach, that seems to shout ‘wow-I’m-in-paradise’.
Martha Lavinia got its name after an 1852 shipwreck. This is the place where some of Australia’s best beach-break waves are produced. Wrapping around the northern tip of King Island in Bass Strait, the waves shape themselves in the ideal “A frame” peaks.
Ever since the 1990s, this place is one of the favorites among surfers’ elite. Some very famous names, such as the 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, are known to love and visit Martha Lavinia Beach.
#5 – Cactus – Great Australian Bight, South Australia
Located on the remote edge of the Nullarbor Plain, this bay is home to South Australia’s best surf breaks, and has attracted surfers since the early 1960s, when these magnificent waves were actually discovered.
Back then, the first surfers faced some serious dangers, and they were not caused only by the large waves. The heat, the extremely cold nights, the flies, mouse plagues and dangerously large sharks, were just some of the threats they faced.
But, fifty years later, Cactus, and its neighbouring breaks, Caves and Castles, are still one of the most beloved surfing locations in Australia.
Despite all the danger that comes from the wild sea, the big crashing waves, the sharks and what ever else lurks beneath those churning waves, surfers still come and fearlessly jump into those waters with little reservation. Their love of the waves is apparently larger than their fear of being eaten by sharks.
#6 – Rottnest Island – Western Australia
We took off from the mainland to an actual island with furry animals that may be completely weird and unknown to you, if you are not a native Aussie.
The amazing thing here is that cars are not allowed, so if you want to roam around the island you will have to take your bicycle.
Besides authentic nature and animals, the waves are the other huge attraction. Here the waves explode onto a barely covered reef, and if you are a beginner it might scare you, but if you are an addict, you won’t’ be able to stop yourself from jumping right in.
Make sure to go to the famous Chicken Reef. Offshore winds come from the north northeast, and the reef breaks left.
Here, it is very unlikely to be too crowded, even when the surf is up, perhaps because this reef is known to have lots of rocks and sharks. It is risky and dangerous, but isn’t that why you came here in the first place?
Surfers often go to Rottnest Island because the waves there are often two to three feet larger than those at Perth beaches.
When you get your guide to the Island’s surf breaks, make sure you have your bike if you actually want to see the island, and of course don’t forget your board.
Worth your time are also Strickland Bay, Salmon Bay and Stark Bay – all part of Rottnest Island.
These are fairly popular breaks for surfers, body-boarders, and stand-up paddle boarders.
Strickland Bay is so popular, that it made it to the top 50 breaks in the world.