The best places to learn to surf in Australia

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If you’ve never learnt to surf you are seriously missing out! It is an amazing way to get fit, connect to nature and de-stress from modern life. 

In this blog post, I’ve compiled the best surf spots for beginners in ‘Straya – from the perfect sandy beaches of Coolangatta to the rugged coastline of West Oz, I’ve got you covered.  

Australia’s iconic surf culture

For surfers, Australia is more than just a country; it’s a surfing mecca.

With thousands of miles of coastline that boast some of the World’s most famous breaks, and as cheesy as it sounds, surfing is more than a sport—it’s a way of life.

The culture is deeply rooted in the Aussie identity, where surfing isn’t just for the young or the daring but is a family affair. 

Importance of choosing the right place to learn how to surf

Learning how to surf isn’t just about waxing up your board and catching your first wave; it’s about the whole experience.

The place where you learn to surf can drastically influence not only your skills but also your overall enthusiasm for the sport.

The right surf spot will offer appropriate wave conditions, good instructors, and a supportive community – so let’s rip in! 

 

The best beginner surf spots

In this article, we’ll delve into 13 of the best places in Australia where you can learn to surf, no matter your skill level.

We’ll look at what each location offers, the best times to go, and what you should know before hitting the waves.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or if you have done a little bit of surfing, this guide will help you find the perfect spot to catch some waves in the Land Down Under.

 

Firstly, why Australia?

High-quality waves for all levels

Australia offers a range of wave conditions suitable for surfers at all levels – and ok while the whole coastline doesn’t have surfable waves, Australia has over 36,735 kilometres of coastline – that’s 22,826 miles! 

Beginners can find smaller, more forgiving waves to start, while intermediate and advanced surfers can challenge themselves at some of the more world-renowned surf spots. 

Favourable climate and weather conditions

Australia’s temperate to tropical climates make it a year-round surfing destination.

While the southern states have colder water temperatures, the northern regions provide warm and even tropical waters perfect for learning.

Plus, the different seasons across the country mean you can chase endless summer by surfing in various states throughout the year.

 

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Surf Spot

Your Skill level

The first thing to consider is your skill level. Some beaches are more suitable for beginners, with gentle waves and surf schools, while others might be suited for those who already have a handle on the basics and are looking to challenge themselves.

 

Crowd factor

Popular beaches might offer great waves but can be crowded, making it less than ideal for complete newbies who are still learning to navigate the water.

Less crowded beaches are a way more relaxed environment for learning too.

Accessibility

Consider how easy it is to get to the location. Australia has countless beaches that are only accessible with a 4×4 or even a boat ride. Make sure the location is feasible for day trips or extended stays, depending on your plans.

Safety

Look for beaches with lifeguards on duty and always check the surf conditions before heading into the water. Some beaches have dangerous rips and currents, so it’s essential to understand the safety aspects of the beach you choose.

Amenities

Facilities like bathrooms, restaurants, and equipment rentals can make your surfing experience more comfortable. While they might not be top priorities, these amenities can enhance your day at the beach.

Bondi Beach, Sydney, New South Wales

Overview

Bondi Beach is one of Australia’s most iconic and bustling surf destinations, located just a short drive from Sydney’s city centre. 

Known for its golden sands and fairly consistent waves, it offers conditions suitable for surfers of all levels.  

The beach is not just a surf spot but a vibrant community hub, featuring a range of cafes, shops, and even a saltwater swimming pool, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to experience Australia’s surf culture.

There are also an absolute tonne of great places to stay in Sydney – from backpackers, boutique hotels and beachfront apartments.

Surf Schools

Bondi Surf School, Let’s Go Surfing

 

Best Time to Go

December to February for warm water and consistent waves.

Manly Main Beach, Sydney, New South Wales

Overview

Manly Beach, situated a scenic ferry ride away from Sydney’s CBD. 

Less crowded than Bondi but equally stunning, Manly provides a more laid-back atmosphere, perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle. 

The area is also home to the Corso, a lively pedestrian street with shops, restaurants, and bars – great to mooch about after a morning of surfing. 

Surf Schools

Manly Surf School, Manly Surf Guide  

Best Time to Go

November to March, but it’s a year-round surf spot.

Byron Bay, New South Wales

Overview

Byron Bay, located on the far-northeastern corner of New South Wales, is renowned for its bohemian lifestyle and consistent, quality waves that cater to surfers of all levels. 

The area offers a laid-back, community-centred vibe, making it popular among those looking for both a surf adventure and a spiritual retreat. 

With its stunning natural scenery, including the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse, and a variety of surf breaks, Byron Bay is a must-visit for anyone serious about surfing in Australia.

Surf Schools

Byron Bay Surf School, Soul Surf School

Best Time to Go

March to May for less crowd and good swells.

 

Coolangatta and around, Gold Coast, Queensland

Overview

Coolangatta, situated at the southern end of the Gold Coast in Queensland, is famous for its world-class point breaks like Snapper Rocks and Kirra. 

 

Offering some of the most challenging and high-performance waves in Australia, it’s a hotspot for experienced surfers and often hosts international surf competitions. 

 

That being said, the shallower waters have great waves for beginners so don’t be put off. 

Beyond the surf, Coolangatta boasts a relaxed vibe, and some mega surf shops to buy everything from new boards, surf hats to changing poncho’s. 

Its close proximity to the Gold Coast Airport also makes it both a convenient and appealing destination for beginner surfers.

Surf Schools

Walkin’ On Water Surf School, Get Wet Surf School

Best Time to Go

February to April for the best swells.

Noosa Heads, Queensland

Overview

Noosa Heads, located on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, is a haven for beginner surfers and longboarders, thanks to its gentle, peeling waves and protected bays. 

The area is known for its stunning natural beauty, including the Noosa National Park, which provides a picturesque backdrop to your surf experience. 

The whole area has a really premium vibe – so depending on your personality you may not resonate with it, but when you’re out of town in the National Park, the scenery is amazing!  

Surf Schools


Noosa Learn to Surf, Merrick’s Noosa Surf School

Best Time to Go

March to October; avoid school holidays to dodge the crowds.

Torquay Back Beach, Victoria

Overview

Torquay Back Beach, located in Victoria’s surf capital, offers a more forgiving surf environment compared to its famous neighbour, Bells Beach. 

The beach has a few peaks that are ideal for beginner surfers looking to get their feet wet—literally and figuratively. 

With lifeguards on duty and several surf schools in the area, Torquay Back Beach provides a safe and educational setting for newcomers to the sport, making it one of the best places in Victoria to start your surfing journey.

Surf Schools

Torquay Surfing Academy, Go Ride A Wave – Torquay

Best Time to Go

November to April for warmer weather.

Bells Beach and Around, Victoria

Overview

Bells Beach, located just outside Torquay in Victoria, is renowned for its long wrapping waves and the fact that it’s the home of the annual Rip Curl Pro. 

It’s a must-see surf spot if you’re in the area – or even if you’re not!  The challenging setup here though is probably not the best beginner surf spot, but I thought I had to mention it in this article.

Even if you’re not ready to tackle the waves at Bells, the sheer spectacle of watching experienced surfers carve through the water against a stunning coastal backdrop makes it a worthwhile visit for sure.

Surf Schools

None on-site, but Torquay’s schools are close by.

Best Time to Go

March to October for the biggest swells.

Middleton Beach, South Australia

Overview

Middleton Beach is an excellent spot for beginner surfers. 

The beach is known for its gentle, peeling waves that offer plenty of time to stand up and gain confidence on the board. 

The waves are relatively forgiving, making it easier for newcomers to navigate without worrying too much about strong currents or sudden, powerful cleanup sets. 

With surf schools and lifeguards usually available, it’s a secure and educational setting for those just getting started with surfing.

Surf Schools

Surf & Sun Middleton, Dan’s Surf School

Best Time to Go

Year-round, but especially March to October.

Margaret River and Around, Western Australia

Overview

So, Margs is probably not top of the list for beginner surfers – but if you’re looking for somewhere to go on a trip and learn to surf at the same time, Margaret River ticks a lot of boxes. 

While the region is best known for spots that cater to experienced surfers like The Box and Main Break, there are several beaches within the Margaret River area, like Gnarabup Beach, that are more forgiving and well-suited for beginners. 

With a variety of surf schools operating in the region, beginner surfers have a range of options available to them.

Surf Schools

Margaret River Surf School, Josh Palmateer’s Surf Academy

Best Time to Go

March to November for the best conditions.

Scarborough Beach, Perth, Western Australia

Overview

Scarborough Beach, situated in Perth, Western Australia, offers a mix of conditions that can cater to both beginners and more advanced surfers. 

For beginners, the Northern end usually provides smaller, more manageable waves, making it an ideal place to learn the basics. 

The beach is well-equipped with amenities, including surf schools and lifeguards, ensuring a safer and more educational experience for those new to surfing. 

Combine this with a beautiful sandy shoreline and vibrant beachfront area filled with cafes and shops, Scarborough Beach offers a complete package for anyone looking to get into the surfing. 

Surf Schools

Learn to Surf Perth, Scarborough Beach Surf School

Best Time to Go

October to April.

Clifton Beach, Tasmania

Overview

So, I had to include one spot in Tassie! And Clifton Beach is the one – it offers a unique surfing experience set against the backdrop of the island’s rugged natural beauty. 

 

While Tasmania might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of surfing, Clifton Beach provides consistent waves and fewer crowds, making it an appealing option for surfers of varying skill levels. 

For beginners, the beach offers some smaller and more manageable waves, although it’s essential to be cautious of the colder water temperatures and sometimes challenging weather conditions. 

Due to its somewhat isolated location, Clifton Beach provides a quieter, more serene surfing experience compared to more bustling Australian surf spots.

Surf Schools

None on-site; teach yourself or bring an instructor.

Best Time to Go

December to February.

Lesser-Known Gems

Crescent Head, New South Wales

Overview

Crescent Head in New South Wales is a spot that’s not on many surfers’ radar – and it’s especially popular among longboarders and beginner surfers. 

Known for its long, peeling right-hand point break, the waves here are ideal for those looking to improve their skills and enjoy a more laid-back surf scene. 

The area around is very picturesque and a quieter atmosphere than some of the more famous New South Wales surf spots. Sounds dreamy, right? 

Surf Schools

Crescent Head Learn to Surf, Surf Camp Australia

Best Time to Go

Year-round, but particularly good in Autumn.

Agnes Water, Queensland

Overview

Agnes Water in Queensland holds the distinction of being one of the most northerly surf beaches on Australia’s East Coast, and it’s a hidden gem for beginner surfers. 

The waves here are generally smaller and less powerful, providing an ideal setting for newcomers to practise their skills.

There’s a few surf schools in the area, offering lessons that capitalise on the beginner-friendly conditions. And being on the backpacker trail up the East Coast, there’s a load of places to stay around the area too.  

Surf Schools

Reef 2 Beach Surf School, Gnarly Tours Surf Lessons

Best Time to Go

May to October.

Which coast in Australia is best for surfing?

The “best” coast for surfing in Australia can vary depending on what you’re looking for—be it the type of wave, crowd, or experience level.

However, the East Coast, particularly New South Wales and Queensland, tends to be the most popular and versatile, offering a wide range of conditions suitable for all levels.

From the iconic breaks of Bondi and Byron Bay to the world-renowned surf spots on the Gold Coast, the East Coast is often considered the heart of Australia’s surf scene.

Where do most people surf in Australia?

Most people surf along Australia’s East Coast, where populous cities like Sydney and Brisbane are located. Beaches like Bondi Beach in Sydney and Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast draw crowds year-round.

However, popular surfing destinations also exist in other states, such as Torquay in Victoria and Margaret River in Western Australia.

Accessibility, consistent swell, and a wide range of amenities make these areas particularly popular among locals and tourists alike.

Where is the surfing capital of Australia?

Torquay, in Victoria, is often referred to as the surfing capital of Australia. It’s the birthplace of iconic surf brands Rip Curl and Quiksilver, and home to Bells Beach, which hosts the annual Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition—one of the oldest and most prestigious in the world.

The town also houses the Australian National Surfing Museum. Torquay is a pilgrimage destination for any surf enthusiast and plays a significant role in the global surf community.

Where is the best place for beginner surfing?

When it comes to beginner-friendly surf spots, Noosa Heads in Queensland often tops the list. Its gentle waves and scenic surroundings make it a great place to learn the ropes.

Other good beginner spots include Bondi Beach in Sydney, Manly Beach in Sydney, and Middleton Beach in South Australia, which offer smaller, more forgiving waves along with surf schools to guide newcomers.

These spots are particularly beginner-friendly due to their consistent but manageable waves, available amenities, and the presence of lifeguards for added safety.

 

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