Australia is an amazing country to visit and tourists flock here in the droves every year to enjoy the stunning beaches, natural environment and laid back people. Learning to surf is one thing that many people want to do in Australia and we’ve put together this guide to outline the best locations to learn to surf.
Noosa Heads is a stunning series of point breaks which run along the Noosa National Park on the northern end of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Quite frankly, you’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful range of beaches and coastline anywhere in the world.
In terms of learning to surf, Noosa offers beautiful clear water and mostly mellow peeling waves that only occasionally get bigger when larger swells wrap around the headland.
Starting at Noosa Main Beach which runs along the main commercial strip (Hastings Street), is First Point which is the most user friendly and accessible surf spot breaking near to the beach. Main beach extends along towards the north west towards the Noosa River Mouth and learn to surf operators run lessons all along here.
Moving the other direction and into the national park there are a number of further point breaks at Little Cove, the National Park and beyond at Tea Tree Bay. These breaks are all generally quite mellow however at different tides break onto rocks and therefor are better for surfers with at least some experience and confidence.
Noosa has a great range of accommodation options from backpackers all the way to luxury hotels and despite its laid back vibe, offers a range of restaurants and shops and many other nearby attractions to keep visitors entertained.
Gold Coast, Queensland
The Gold Coast is synonymous with surfing and its series of point breaks on it’s southern beaches from Burleigh to Snapper Rocks have produced many of Australia’s world champion surfers.
With a lot beaches and other attractions, the Gold Coast is a great place to learn to surf but it’s helpful to know which beaches are more suited to beginners.
Coolangatta (Snapper Rocks/Greenmount and Kirra)
The first annual stop of the world surf tour starts at Snapper Rocks in March each year and it’s understandably this point break is one of the key surf areas in the country, as well as the busiest.
When the waves are good, the crystal clear waves run all the way between Snapper Rocks through to Greenmount in what is known as the Super bank. On days like this, you will not find a busier and more dangerous surf break on the planet.
Learners should stay well away on days like these, but when the surf is smaller (which is most of the time), it’s more mellow and there is plenty of space for beginners to practice. There are several surf schools which operate across these beaches.
Kirra which is the next point break to the north also offers exceptional surf and on smaller days, softer conditions which are great for learning to surf.
There are many accommodation options in Coolangatta ranging from backpackers hotels to luxury high end. With pubs, restaurants and shops on the main strip, there’s more on offer here when you’ve had enough of the water.
A few kilometres to the north of Coolangatta is the more sleepy Currumbin. Like the point breaks above, Currumbin Point is best left to experienced surfers in bigger swell but most of the time this cruisy wave and particularly the inside section is popular with learners and surf schools which operate from here.
Currumbin Point is also the entry point to the Currumbin River which is a really popular place for stand up paddle boarding.
There are a few cafes and restaurants not far from the beach, however nothing much compared to Coolangatta. Further, there not so many backpacker type accommodation options but plenty of traditional hotels and private apartments. Being only a 5-10 minute drive to Coolangatta, staying there is also an option. Additionally there is a bike path which runs along the beach from Currumbin to Coolangatta (20 mins approx on bike).
Burleigh Heads is the next point break heading north and is located approximately halfway between Coolangatta on the southern end of the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise to the north.
Burleigh is generally suited more to intermediate and experienced surfers as the point break over rocks, which at lower tides can be a hazard. As such, it would be recommended only on very calm days with small surf for beginners. There are a number of surf schools who operate from Bureligh.
Much like Coolangatta, there’s a wide variety of accommodation options including camping, backpackers, hotels and private apartments as well as restaurants, shops and bars.
Surfers Paradise is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Gold Coast but be warned, despite the name, the beaches generally aren’t the best surfing or more specifically learning to surf.
If you do find yourself there, however there are number of surf schools in the location.
Surfers Paradise has many accommodation options suited to all budgets as well as nightlife and other entertainment options.
Surf Coast, Victoria
(Torquay, Lorne, Ocean Grove, and Anglesea)
At the centre of Victoria’s Surf Coast approximately 90 minutes drive from Melbourne is the famous surf break Bells Beach. Home of the Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach is a powerful break situated below intimidating cliffs and although you might think of it as a potential place to learn to surf, it is not so suitable for beginners.
There are a number of better learner spots with more user friendly waves along the Surf Coast which are much better suited including Torquay, Lorne, Ocean Grove, and Anglesea – all with surf school operations in place.
Torquay is the biggest town here, however it is still very laid back and quiet. There are various options for accommodation including camping and backpackers and this is similar along the other towns or Lorne, Ocean Grove and Anglesea.
The Great Ocean Road travels along the Surf Coast and is very popular with travellers most notably passing by the 12 Apostles.
Byron Bay, New South Wales
Byron Bay remains one of Australia’s most popular tourist spots – filled with a mix of backpackers, hippies, A-list celebrities and everyone in between.
It’s also one of the most popular places in Australia to learn to surf. Providing that perfect mix between beautiful beaches, mellow waves suited to beginners, night life and a huge number of other activities for travelers it is pretty clear why.
Clarkes Beach which runs from in front of the Byron Bay town centre along to a rocky headland at it’s southern point is the most suited spot for beginner surfers and provides excellent protection from larger southerly swells and winds.
The rocky point is known as the Pass – which is a really popular and busy surf spot mostly with longboarders. As it is busy it can be quite dangerous when there are are a lot of surfers and boards going everywhere.
As a beginner you should keep to the inside broken waves and best to move a little way down the beach to stay out of the way.
There are also several surf schools which operate along Clarkes Beach for lessons or board hire, as well as number of board hire options in town.
The waves are the best at high to mid-tide along Clarkes Beach although better at lower tide at the Pass, but be cautious at lower tides because the waves can dump with a surprising amount of power even when small.
Byron Bay has many accommodation options including several backpacking and budget options, hotels and private apartments. The town is filled with restaurants, shops and bars so entertainment outside of the surf is plentiful.
Yamba, New South Wales
If you’re looking for a learn to surf option that’s a little bit quieter than say Sydney or Byron Bay, Yamba could be the perfect place for you.
A quaint little beach town located about 1.5 hours south of Byron Bay in northern New South Wales. Yamba has a lot of what is great about Byron Bay, but less fan fare and is much more laid back. Think Byron a few decades ago.
It’s pretty quiet around here out of peak holiday periods but there’s enough amenity in town to keep most people happy.
In terms of surf, Yamba is great because has a number of beaches with different orientations so when one side is a bit rough the other is likely to be calmer. There are a number of dedicated surf schools operating here and board hire options.
Turners Beach located to the north of the Yamba lighthouse is one of the best beaches for beginner surfers with gentle surf at both northern and southern ends of the beach.
Main Beach is orientated to the east so can be more open to the elements and bigger surf, however on more calm smaller days this can be a good option for beginners and benefits from the lifeguards.
There are several other beaches including Angourie a few kilmometres to the south. Angourie is a great place to visit being on the edge of the national park, however is strictly an experienced surf spot breaking on rocks and close to a cliff. On the other side of the Angourie headland is the Angourie back beach which is generally more safe and ok for beginners when conditions are calm and small, but perhaps better for intermediate and experience surfers.
Yamba has some backpacker accomodation in the centre of town as well as camping options (just outside town) and private apartments.
Sydney, New South Wales
Bondi Beach is a place where most travelers will stop at one point in their travels. It is one of the most popular places in Australia and one of the busiest beaches in the country with locals and tourists alike.
It is also very popular with people learning to surf as it offers the best of beach life and city life with all the amenity and entertainment options that Sydney can offer. Along Bondi Beach itself there are many surf school operators providing lessons and board hire options.
Depending on the swell and wind conditions, the north or southern ends of the Bondi Beach offer some protection from the elements and are generally the better spots to surf for beginners.
When conditions are bigger, learners should best avoid the water as Bondi is well known for rips and catching inexperienced swimmers and surfers off-guard. You can always check in with the lifesavers on the beach to ask about current conditions.
In terms of amenity, tourists are spoilt for choice for accommodation options and food and drink, with plenty on offer. Bondi is probably the most expensive place to stay in Australia however there are budget options.
Compared to Bondi Beach, Manly may be the easiest to learn at, with less chance of dangerous currents. It’s a little more protected than Bondi and is therefore less exposed.
Located on Sydney’s northern beaches Manly is distinctly separate from the Sydney CBD. It’s similar to Bondi with a vibey mix of shops and restaurants.
Manly Beach is great in southerly conditions being protected from the South and is a great spot for learners. There are several learn to surf operators on this beach as well as board hire options.
Like Bondi Manly has a lot of accommodation options including backpackers and from here you can travel to the other Northern beaches such as Freshwater and Palm Beach.
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the most isolated city in the world so if you’re travelling here from elsewhere in Australia, I guess you want to know whether it’s worth the journey! It most definitely is and the coastline from Perth to Margaret River, including Rottnest Island is pretty magic with plenty of things for travelers to see. On the surfing front, there are many great beaches that are perfect to learn to surf.
Close to Perth City
Trigg Beach is located approximately 20 minutes north of the city and is the most consistent surf break in the area. It is a beach break with multiple peaks which works in most tides and in east winds. It is patrolled by lifeguards in summer months and has surf surf schools which operate here.
Also north of the city is Scarborough Beach which breaks very close to shore, which can be well suited to beginners.
Rottnest Island is located 19km offshore from Perth accessible by Ferry (no cars on island) and actually blocks the majority of swell reaching the beaches around Perth. As such it has a number of surf breaks some of which are strictly for experienced surfers however there are some more mellow spots and learn to surf operators run lessons here. It’s a beautiful island to visit so could be a good location to also enjoy some surf lessons.
Located around 3 hours south of Perth, Margaret River is a beautiful area known for its beaches, wineries and pristine natural environment.
Although Margaret River is well known for its serious surfing breaks beginners can find breaks in summer months when the water is warmer and in smaller swells at Redgate Beach (surf school located here), Contos Beach and Boranup Beach.
We hope this guide to the best places to learn to surf in Australia has been helpful for you. If you’ve got any questions, we are happy to help – just ask away in the comments below!