The Smallest Continent Serves the Biggest Swells
Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia is home to some of the biggest surf on the planet. The East, South and West Coasts all offer slightly different swells, so whether you're new to the ride or looking for the green room, Australia is guaranteed to provide the perfect surfing vacation.
Australia's East Coast is home to legendary Kirra Point and Burleigh Heads. Amateurs and pros alike can be seen paddling out into the swells off Queensland and New South Wales. The most consistent waves come during the winter months, May through August. The East Coast definitely has the best conditions for surfing, so if that's the reason you're heading down under, this is the place for you.
What better place to start than the aptly named Surfer's Paradise? The beach is unrivaled when it comes to surfing conditions. It's on the Pacific coast, where the waters are warm and filled with waves for every skill level. Surfer's Paradise also offers an array of nighttime activities including bars, restaurants and shopping. Click here for Surfer's Paradise travelers' information -- from hanging ten to happy hour.
Kirra Point is the Gold Coast's most infamous beach, producing challenging waves for the experienced surfer as well as ankle busters for beginners. The Point is less than one mile from the Gold Coast airport, has plenty of accommodations and even offers some fantastic diving opportunities if you need a day off the board. The Oceanway offers beautiful walking and viewing platforms for those who prefer dry land.
Located between Coolangatta and Surfer's Paradise, Burleigh Heads is home to some fantastic Gold Coast swells. This is the place for those with a little more skill and we recommend visiting during the week to avoid the thick weekend crowds. While tourists may flock to Surfer's Paradise, those in the know hit the point breaks at Burleigh -- close to Brisbane and with easy public access from the main road.
Located off the Gold Coast at the southern end of Moreton Bay, Stradbroke Island is one of the world's largest sand islands. Stradbroke (Straddie to the locals) is prone to swells from the southeast called cylinders that break on the northeast corner of the island. Get to Straddie by hopping a ferry or water taxi from the Brisbane suburb of Cleveland.
The main surfing areas on the South Coast are located along Great Ocean Road. April through October offer the best conditions, but make sure you bring a wetsuit -- the southern seas are much colder than the balmy East Coast.
Along Torquay's coastline, surfers can enjoy the swells at Bells Beach, Jan Juc and Anglesea. In addition to many righteous beaches, Torquay is home to some supreme beach culture. At Surf City Plaza, the biggest names in surf retail sell everything from SPF to long boards. You can brush up on the history of surfing at Surfworld Museum.
Bells Beach could be Australia's most iconic surf spot. Its waves are long, fat and fast -- the trifecta of swell conditions. The waves filter up the South Coast and break over several sections of reefs in the bay, including Centerside Rincon, Outside Bells and Bells Bowl. Bells Beach is a living piece of surf history and shouldn't be missed on any trip to Australia's South Coast.
At Jan Juc beach, the conditions are a bit more extreme. The rips and exposed beaches can make surfing here a bit dangerous, especially for beginners. Prior to your trip, read up on beach and ocean conditions as well as safety information at the Jan Juc Surf Life Saving Club.
You can catch plenty of swells throughout the year on Australia's West Coast, but it's a bit more extreme than the picturesque surfari on Australia's East Coast. Crowds are less of a factor than at Queensland and New South Wales locations, but that certainly doesn't mean the West Coast's spots aren't popular.
Scarborough Beach in Perth has some beautiful white-sand surf beaches along the Indian Ocean. It's centrally located and close to both Trigg and Brighton beaches. There's easy public transportation to Scarborough, whose best surfing conditions are early in the morning.
Heading north towards Perth, you'll come across some great breaks -- but some say the coast's true potential is blocked by the presence of Rottnest Island. Breaks and swells have to get around the island in order to reach Perth, but when they do, the surfing is sweet and perfect for all levels. If you're feeling truly adventurous, leave the safety of the mainland for Rottnest. The island's Strickland Bay has been ranked in the top 50 breaks in the world. Waves off Rottnest can be 2 to 3 feet larger than at Perth, so if you're looking to ride some pounders before heading home, this island should definitely be on your must-surf list.