Australia’s most visited surfing beaches

From remote Yallingup Beach in Western Australia to Sydney’s cosmopolitan Manly Beach, Australia is a place of pilgrimage for surfers the world over. Australia’s most visited surfing beaches
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Australia's most visited surfing beaches

From remote Yallingup Beach in Western Australia to Sydney’s cosmopolitan Manly Beach, Australia is a place of pilgrimage for surfers the world over.


From boutique hotels to cycling around an island in search of great breaks, surfers visiting Australia are spoilt for choice. Beginners can try their luck at surf schools up and down the coast and seasoned surfers can paddle out to some of the world’s most revered surf spots.

Cabarita Beach, New South Wales

A 30-minute drive north of Byron Bay, Cabarita Beach, is a little-known stretch of sand, long loved by Australian surfers. The break at Cabarita can be surfed in all tide and weather conditions and is one of few places along that stretch of coast sheltered from northerly winds. In 2011, Brisbane-based sisters Siobhan and Elisha Bickle acquired what was a rundown 1960s surf motel and have transformed the property into the boutique hotel, Halcyon House. From its position right on the beach, you can pick up a bike and board, stroll along the beach, or arrange private surf lessons by ASP title-holder and local surf champion Joel Parkinson. 

Manly, New South Wales

Manly, with its wide, open coastline, is often regarded as one of Sydney’s top surfing beaches. Just a 15-minute drive from the city centre; or a 20-minute ferry ride across Sydney Harbour, Manly also boasts good cafés, bars, and surf stores. Manly Surf School has been established since 1982. Based in the North Steyne Surf Life Saving Club in the middle of the beach, it has long been the go-to surf school, training everyone from ASP title-holders to kids.

Noosa Heads, Queensland

Noosa Heads, Queensland

This beach – and the surrounding breaks of Sunshine Beach, Boiling Pot, Tea Tree and Granite Bay – is popular with surfers from across Australia. Many make an annual pilgrimage to the town, attracted by the multitude of breaks, the surrounding national park and the village vibe. Noosa is also a haven for foodies who enjoy the beachside dining, excellent coffee, gelato bars and one of Australia’s finest artisan markets at nearby Eumundi.

The Superbank, Snapper Rocks, Queensland

This is possibly the longest wave in the world. The Superbank’s break is at the very top of “must do” surf experiences for serious surfers. And should you have the good fortune to get on a wave you will be rewarded with the ride of your life – fast and furious. Many surfers stay in and around the town of Surfers Paradise so that they can experience the breaks between the town and Snapper Rocks some 45-minute drive south. The QT Hotel can organise surf lessons.

Pambula beach, Sapphire Coast, New South Wales

Pambula Rivermouth, New South Wales

The waves at Pambula Rivermouth can be intermittent, but when the conditions are just right, it’s an exhilarating surf break. A better choice for seasoned surfers – Pambula can be rough – the beach is also popular for its surrounding national parks and the kangaroos that come out of the bush at dawn and dusk. Pambula is also known for its excellent oysters. After your surf, head to the Broadwater Oysters shed, where you see oysters being shucked and you can buy some for dinner.

Surfer, Bells Beach, Torquay, Victoria

North Narrabeen, New South Wales

A long beach just 25-kilometres (15.5 miles) from Sydney’s city centre, North Narrabeen has long been a favourite with Sydney’s serious surfers. In 2009 the area was declared a “National Surf Reserve” that encompasses 50 hectares of land and more than one kilometre of coastline. There are more than five breaks on offer including “The Point”, “The Alley” – a sand-covered rock shelf offering both left and right handers – and  “The Bombie”, a break a little further offshore to the south, renowned for its separate waves in big swells. Locals love beachside Mexicano for a post-surf burrito and a margarita.

Bells Beach, Victoria

A place of pilgrimage for surfers the world over, Bells Beach is big. Big waves, big crowds, but it offers the opportunity for very big memories. The break attracts the world’s finest professional surfers, and tourists keen to see them.  A popular stop on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, the beach is fringed by rock cliffs that afford an excellent vantage point for watching the action. Home of the Rip Curl Pro Bell’s Beach, which has been held each Easter since 1961, it is believed to be the world’s longest-running surf competition. The swell is at its best during autumn and winter, but be warned; the waters of The Great Southern Ocean can be cold. 

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

A 25-minute ferry ride from Fremantle will see you arrive on tranquil Rottnest Island. Rent a bike, put your board on your back and find the beach that takes your fancy. Strickland Bay, Salmon Bay and Stark Bay are popular breaks and there are also numerous reef breaks on both sides of the island. Waves can often be two to three feet larger than waves at Perth beaches, so it is worth the trip. Rottnest Island Visitor Centre has maps of the islands beaches and breaks. Stay overnight in one of the cabins, and surf again tomorrow, or end the day with a drink or dinner at the waterside, before heading back to Perth. 

Lennox Head, New South Wales

A seaside village in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, “Lennox” –as the locals call it – sits between the popular tourist towns of Byron Bay and Ballina, where you’ll find equally fine breaks. Once a sleepy town, the area is now a popular destination with holidaymakers and surfers. The break offers a particularly fine right-hander. The stretch of sand that lines the shore is dotted with granite boulders, and hang-gliders launch themselves off Pat Morton Lookout on the nearby headland and fly above the surfers. The beach hosts a handful of surf events, including the biannual Lennox Masters Surf Classic, the All Girls Surf Showdown each June and GROMFEST, a junior surfing event in July. World Champion Surfer Cheyne Horan runs a surf school in the region.

Surfer, Margaret River Pro, Margaret River, Western Australia

Margaret River, Western Australia

The region is renowned internationally for its wine, and increasingly for its surf beaches. The Margaret River Pro surf competition is now on the ASP competition circuit and the region, a four-hour drive from Perth’s city centre, has been gaining the attention of surf fans. Yallingup and Smiths Beach offer breaks for all levels of surfer, and the opportunity, post-session, to watch the sun set into the Indian Ocean. Surfing Margaret River offers a comprehensive guide to the area, swell reports, a photographic service and Yallingup Surf School provides lessons for all levels.

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