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Top 10 Surf Spots in Australia You Have To Paddle Out At

Hunting for the best surf spots in Australia? Here are 10 epic Australia surf spots you need to paddle out at – from reeling points to spitting barrels…

There are more surf spots in Australia than you can imagine and calling Australia a surfer’s pilgrimage, a surf Mecca or a wave wonderland may all rank as clichéd by now but the fact remains they are all true.

Here are thousands upon thousands of kilometres of coastline and, as an isolated island, long distance swells arrive from every direction, firing up spot after spot on a year-round basis. 

With heaps of waves all over the place Australia has long produced some of the best surfers in the world and the surfing elite arrive regularly from every corner of the planet to join in the fun.

Many spots are so famous you will be familiar with their names long before setting foot in Australia. Bells Beach, Byron Bay, Noosa….they’re all scored deep into the psyche of every wave-rider on Earth. 

Waves come in every variety – playful peaks for total beginners to spots where only the kamikaze venture or where the tow-in surfers reign supreme. So, whether you are just setting out or consider yourself a seasoned rider there are plenty off Australia surf spots to choose from.

But here are 10 of our favourites…

 

Top 10 Surf Spots in Australia

 

1. The Pass – Byron Bay

From novice to pro, there can’t be a surfer on the planet who doesn’t have Byron Bay – the country’s easternmost point – on the radar. Once the playground of surfing legends such as Crystal Voyager George Greenough, Nat Young and Bob McTavish, Byron’s ridiculously idyllic breaks have starred in more surfing videos than perhaps any other on the planet.

When Endless Summer’s Bruce Brown shot Surfing Hollow Days in 1962 every wave-rider suddenly woke up to this New South Wales piece of perfection.

While Byron gives you a choice of breaks, it’s the right hand point of the Pass which steals star-billing. Considered a great spot for point-break novices, this long-ride wave also dishes up some fast and hollow drops to keep the experienced surfer smiling too,

Loggers from all over the world will head this way when the swell charts light up.

Swell hits NSW year round but from the May to August peak the north-easterly swells can keep epic sets rolling for a week at a time and flat days are few. Factor in the water temperature – a comfy boardshort 21-26°C – and a plentiful supply of sunshine and you have every box ticked. 

And post surf or when the waves aren’t firing there are heaps of things to do in Byron Bay as well!

Type of break – right point break with 400m rides possible

Tide – works on all tides

Ideal wind direction – south-east

Swell window – north-east to east

Best season – April to September

Skill level – beginner to pro

Alternative breaks nearby – Check out my Byron Bay surf spot guide for all the breaks in the area, there’ something for every level and swell direction!

 

2. Snapper Rocks – Coolangatta, Gold Coast

Located in Queensland’s Gold Coast, the legendary Snapper Rocks aka Superbanks are the home breaks of such surf world pro-icons as Mick Fanning, Stephanie Gilmore and Parko. 

Superbanks is one of the longest points on the planet, full of multiple barrel sections and it all starts at the lava outcrop of Snapper Rocks.

Be warned though this is strictly experienced surfers only territory and heavily localised.

The take-off here is thick-lipped with a sweet barrel for those still standing after the adrenalin-pumping backwash has hit. If you have lucked into the right conditions you can just keep going from here, passing Little Marley Point after 200m, the greater depths of Rainbow Bay and through to Greenmount Point.

If the surf gods are smiling on you, you get to keep going all the way to Kirra which is almost 2 km from where you started. 

Little wonder that Snapper Rocks is beloved by the pro-world, hosting a whole heap of surf comps including the WSL Quiksilver Pro – the start of the world championship tour.

The down side to such a prize is the seething mass of surfers who hit the spot when swell, wind and tide all come together just right and the water conditions can be a little soupy after rains stir up the Tweed River outflow. 

Type of break – right hand point break

Tide – works on all tides but low tide is best for the link up sections

Ideal wind direction – south-west

Swell window – north-east to south but east to south-east is ideal for maintaining size and consequently linking sections

Best season – best consistent swell from February to July peaking March and April. For ideal Superbanks conditions February to May work best

Skill level – intermediate to advanced surfers – not least of all to be able to handle the other surfers in the water

Alternative breaks nearby;

Kirra – 1.2 km – right-hand point 

Burleigh Heads – 12 km – right hand point and beach break 

 

 

3. Noosa – Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Located on the Sunshine Coast (aka Sunny Coast) in Queensland, Noosa is another of those super famous breaks which lovers of 60s surf videos will be highly familiar with.

A hippie hangout of its era, this was when such surfing greats as Bob McTavish and Midget Farrelly ruled the waves and could regularly be seen at Noosa tearing up the long lines on their logs and shaper like Tom Wegner still reside here.

Noosa offers up a great menu of break options and with its mellow rides, even on a bigger swell, typically considered a beginner’s paradise and longboard heaven. It’s where the experienced come too to kick back a little and remind themselves to put the fun into surfing.

Those that want something a little steeper and hollower head to Tea Tree which is a 15 minute or so hike through the national park. This right-hand point break can handle a bigger swell without getting messy and is truly epic when everything comes together.

Low tide is when you are most likely to luck into a barrel here but as this is also when the rocks and their sea urchins are not far below the surface Tea Tree is most suited to surfers of intermediate standard and upwards .

Type of break – right-hand point break

Tide – low to mid tide

Ideal wind direction – south easterly 

Swell window – north-east to south-east

Best season – swell consistency is best from February to July with March and April prime time

Skill level – intermediates upwards

Alternative breaks nearby – 

Boiling Pot – 0.8 km – right-hand point 

Sunshine Beach – 3.6 km – beach break swell magnet with powerful peaks

 

4. Angourie Point, Yamba, New South Wales

A short drive from the town of Yamba, Angourie Point first registered on the radar of the masses thanks to Morning of the Earth, filmed here in 1971 which is well worth checking out.

In complete contrast it is also the place from which the term ‘surf rage’ was born when 60s icon Nat Young had a bit of a headline-hitting bust up in 2000 with another surfer in the lineup…although generally speaking localism isn’t a huge issue here and the lineup is pretty friendly.

Hollow, fast and powerful, Angourie Point is up there on the list of Australia’s most photogenic surf spots. Surrounded by national park, the area is one of a handful of the country’s surfing reserves and you’ll have plenty to gaze upon here while you’re sitting it out between sets. 

Angourie’s mood is totally dependent on swell direction with some wind, tide and size thrown into the mix. Score some waves when the swell is from the south and things are more playful with some fun green walls once the wave wraps round the point.

Hit it when the tropical cyclone swell arrives from the east or north-east and the heavier lips throw out super-sucky barrels. The rock-spattered end section is known as ‘life or death’ which should give you some idea of what to expect. 

There are plenty ion campsites in the area for those who want to pitch up by the waves, if not Shane and Justin from Yamba YHA will take epic care of you and serve up a well deserved post surf beer at the rooftop bar!

Type of break – right hand point 

Tide – works on all tides

Ideal wind direction – south-westerly

Swell window – huge window – north to south

Best season – highest swell consistency is from February to July peaking in March and April

Skill level – intermediate upwards when smaller, advanced only on bigger swells

Alternative breaks nearby – 

Pippi Beach – 4.3km – beach break and most consistent of Yamba’s spots for fun waves

Turners Beach – 6.1 km – the closest surf spot to Yamba town the beach break is super fun and the breakwater serves up an epic barreling left on the right swell.

 

5. Bells Beach, Torquay, Victoria

Break names don’t get more iconic than Bells Beach – the place where it all began for Australian surfing and home to the prestigious Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, part of the annual surf calendar since 1962.

Ridiculously consistent – exposed as it is to the might of the Southern Ocean – the right-hand point of Bells Beach is synonymous with power and size, holding anything up to 18ft its plenty of cover ups and steep walls to carve.

While there are of course optimum conditions red-cliff-backed Bells tends to have a wave no matter what the tide or wind direction and is a short drive from the neighbourhood during town of Torquay.

In reality the break is really three separate sections – Rincon, Outside Bells and Bells Bowl. Paddle out here at the right time and you can pass from one into the other in one glorious, unbroken ride. However when it’s firing be respectful of the locals and wait patiently for your turn.

Water temperatures – ranging from a chilly 13-20°C – mean a wet suit is required and as a pilgrimage site for the wave-riding faithful from all over the world don’t expect to score this classic all alone. 

Type of break – a rock ledge right-hand point

Tide – mid to high tide although Bells Bowl is best on a low tide

Ideal wind direction – north-westerly

Swell window – huge swell window, south-east to south-west but optimum at south-west

Best season – receives consistent swell year round but best from April to October

Skill level – advanced 

Alternative breaks nearby – 

Winkipop – 500m – right-hand fast and hollow shallow reef break which many argue is superior to Bells

Jan Juc – 2.9km – decent beach break

6. Main Break – Margaret River, Western Australia

Famous for its wines, whales and beauty, Western Australia also has a thriving surf scene.

This is big wave territory with some world-class waves and, while there are a few offerings for beginners, in reality this whole area is really for the big boys. If you’ve got the skill and don’t mind sharing the waters with a few great whites your reward here is a ridiculously high consistency rate year round – 9 ½ days out of 10 in fact will produce swell of some description. 

Margaret River is home to the state’s superstar wave – Mainbreak.

This offshore reef has a gnarly reputation and its super-heavy hollowness, bowls and bumps can be downright dangerous in a big swell. Be sure to throw in your surf helmet with your wax, spare fins and ding repair kit.

If it all gets too much when the swell ratchets the height up to 20ft head to shore and watch the pros showing you how it’s done from the car park vantage point. 

Type of break – offshore uneven reef – rights and lefts

Tide – works on all tides but mid to high is when you are most likely to be able to make the walls in between the barrels

Ideal wind direction – easterly 

Swell window – south to north-west with west optimal

Best season – swell year round but biggest arrives in winter – June to September

Skill level – experienced to kamikaze

Alternative breaks nearby – 

River-mouth beach break – when it gets too big at Main Break

The Box – 0.8km – reef right hander, heavy and fast, experienced surfers only

Yallingup – 38km – reef break good for all surfing levels, often frequented by dolphins

 

7. The Point, Burleigh Heads, Queensland

With thousands of spots to choose from each Aussie surfer could all name the ‘best in Australia’ as any one of many but Burleigh Heads tends to make it into just about everyone’s top 5 list.

Frequently described as both beautiful and mystical, the point breaks here are a barrel-rider’s heaven and although when big its advance surfers only at other times it dishes up conditions suitable for beginners too. 

Burleigh Heads is actually a series of four sand-bottom points which although can technically link up rarely do unless the storm swells have jiggled the sand about in such a way to create paradise.

The cream of the crop is the Point where draining tubes are drooled over in the surfing world. 

One major bonus of these points is that when elsewhere along the Gold Coast has got messy it is still going off at Burleigh Heads and its a great alternative when Snapper and Kirra are super busy.

Type of break – sand bottom right hand point

Tide – all tides

Ideal wind direction – south-westerly

Swell window – north-east to south – optimum on south-east swell

Best season – most consistent swell from February to July peaking February to May

Skill level – all levels

Alternative breaks nearby – 

Other Burleigh Heads points – Sharkies, the Cove and Rockbreak

Snapper Rocks – 12km – right-hand point for intermediate to advanced surfers

Kirra – 11.4km– sand bottom right-hand point offering typically longer rides than Burleigh Heads

 

8. Kirra – Gold Coast, Queensland

Considered by many to be the planet’s finest sand-bottom right-hander point break it will probably come as no surprise to learn the crowds at Kirra can be insane.

Hugely powerful and heavy-lipped, the tubes of Kirra are legendary and ride lengths the stuff dreams are made of. Kirra is also set up to hold the biggest swells which Mother Nature can throw at it

As is true of all sand-bottom breaks, everything is forever shifting and affecting quality – it has even been known for the groynes here to go out of action for long periods at a time when the storms heaped them with sand.

Time it just right however and you’ll find words such as magical and epic passing your lips after you’ve scored what may perhaps be the longest covered up ride of your surfing days. 

Type of break – sand-bottom right hand point break

Tide – all tides

Ideal wind direction – westerly 

Swell window – north-east to south

Best season – most consistent swells hit from February to July peaking March to June which is also when the winds are most likely to be optimal

Skill level – advanced

Alternative breaks nearby – 

Snapper Rocks – 1.2km – right-hand point for intermediate to advanced surfers

Burleigh Heads – 11.4km – epic sand-bottom right hand points

 

9. Aussie Pipe – also known as Black Rock – Jervis Bay, New South Wales

Nestled in the Booderee National Park, Aussie Pipe is scenic surfing at its best. A classic reef break, Aussie Pipe has a multitude of other names which include Black Rock, Wreck Bay and Summercloud Bay.

While not everyone agrees on its name all sing from the same sheet regarding its quality – about as hollow as it gets in Australia and with an intense power which takes most by surprise first time out.

Epic rides here are typically short but super-intense with urchin-covered rocks never far below the surface. Knowing you might just be headed for the thrashing of your life just adds to the thrill. 

Type of break – reef break, mainly lefts

Tide – all tides

Ideal wind direction – north-easterly

Swell window – south-east to south with south swells offering optimum conditions

Best season – consistent year-round but at its best in March to May

Skill level – advanced 

Alternative breaks nearby – 

Conneely’s Reef – 11.8km – left and right reef break much quieter than Pipe

 

10. Caves, Cactus Beach, South Australia

If surfing for you means escaping the hustle and bustle and getting back to nature Cactus Beach might just register as heaven. Naturally magnificent, this stretch of coast offers a diverse menu of breaks with right-hander Caves tending to take star-billing. 

Like many of the south coast spots which receive everything the mighty Southern Ocean can throw at them, shallow reef break Caves although super-consistent isn’t one for the faint-hearted.

Not least of all this is great white territory and when the winter storm swells hit it’s strictly for advanced surfers only – no-one else will survive the drop. Additionally, although the reef is slabby it’s by no mean forgiving or soft so dont get caught in the inside!

When Caves is really firing (and it can hold some size here) it becomes a world class barrelling wave – so best left alone un less you’re experienced!

Type of break – right hand shallow reef break

Tide – low to mid tide

Ideal wind direction – north-easterly 

Swell window – south to west

Best season – year round surf with the highest consistency April to October

Skill level – advanced to expert

Alternative breaks nearby – 

Cactus Beach has several other spots including left-hand reef Crushers which needs a little more swell to really get going and left-hander reef Cactus/Super Tubes, perhaps the least intimidating of the choices

Witzigs – 1.8km – powerful left reef break 

 

 

What waves are top of your Australia surf spot to do list?

Any other you’d add in?

 

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