Surfing in Australia

Australia has 5 main surf areas. There are 219 surf spots and 10 surf holidays. Go explore!

Overview of surfing in Australia

Among the greatest surfing destinations on earth. No other country has produced more surfing world champions. Australia, the worlds largest island, the worlds smallest continent.

This country enjoys 10 percent of the earths coastline with only a population of just over 20 million people? The result for surfers is an infinite assortment of waves including a few of the best rivermouth, beach breaks, reefs and pointbreaks in the entire world. With only a little planning, it is possible to enjoy top quality waves with no more than just a handful of surfers.

The Australian coastline has excellent exposure to all swells from the north east through to the north west. All states possess excellent surf locations with regular swell. The Northern Territory which lies just to the south of Indonesia is shielded from the majority of all but the rarest of cyclonic swell that manages to make landfall without the accompanying 100 knots of onshore wind. The capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin was completely destroyed by a cyclone in 1972.

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Surf seasons and when to go

The best time of the year to surf in Australia

The main source of swell here is from the intense lows that circle the earth south of Australia, these lows spin off northwards with blessed regularity, peppering the entire region with generous SE to SW groundswell from March to September. Australia and New Zealand see the bulk of these swells. These countries cast a very tall shadow across the rest of the Pacific and hence many other islands in their wake can suffer from swell diffusion. December to February is cyclone season. Unpredictable cells can deliver swell in a 360 radius, lighting up rarely breaking reefs and points facing every conceivable direction.

The South Pacific trade winds are some of the most consistent in the world, generally from the East with slight seasonal variation. This is the largest Ocean on the planet and these winds easily generate regular rideable swell. Onshore conditions can be a problem on east facing coastlines but peeling yourself out for an early surf will usually bring some relief.

In the North Pacific it is the intense lows descending from the Aleutians that deliver NE to NW swells from October to March. Hawaii is ideally placed to make best use of this energy but other coastlines in the region have their own less publicised and far less crowded gems.

Jun to October also sees rarer hurricane swell radiate out from southern Mexico. This energy is often felt right throughout Polynesia. With so many energy vectors at work it is very hard not to find a wave.

Places such as Australia that offer rideable options on every coast will ensure that regardless of the conditions, somewhere there will be a wave. In fact quite often there will be a very good one.

Annual surf conditions

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Australia surf travel guide

Find trips that fit a flexible lifestyle

Australia is well serviced by international airlines. Depending on how long you have in the country you may wish to fly into Brisbane (Queensland) and sample some of the world quality breaks to the north such as Noosa-arguably one of the best longboard waves in the world. Burleigh Heads and The Superbank are must see destinations before you head south towards Sydney and down the east coast. In doing so you will have covered a thousand kilometres of some of the best waves in the world.

If time permits, head west to see Bells Beach and strap yourself in for the trip across the Nullabor. Rare gems such as Cactus offer enormous rewards for surfers of spirit. Eventually you will reach Margaret River and a coastline of surfing potential that will blow your mind. You should look to buy a car for a trip like this. You could buy something up to the task for $1000, buy it in Brisbane and sell it on the west coast in Perth when you’re done. Buses, trains and planes connect all major centres if you are a little short on time.

Be careful if you use jetstar for internal flights. At the time of writing this there is a baggage length limit of 8 feet. It has something to do with the length of the storage bins that go into the aircraft. If you are taking a longboard consider QANTAS or Virgin, unless you want to have to leave that brand new 9’2″ Yater Spoon at the baggage desk. Having said this, Australia has more surf shops than anywhere else in the world. You will have no problems in picking up a board either used or new in any coastal city, including work from international shapers.

All major cities are well stocked with every convenience that you really should need for your visit. If you are looking to be totally prepared then make sure you stock up on sunscreen, insect repellant and protective clothing such as hats, sunglasses etc. If you are planning on doing some hiking, make sure your boots and gear are cleaned before you enter.

Australian quarantine is very thorough. You wont be able to bring any meats or cheeses into the country without special permits. If in doubt check the Australian customs site to check if an item you are looking to bring in is allowed. You really wont have any problems in picking up any surf related consumables such as legropes, wax or even a new board no matter where you are. Even Alice Springs has a surf shop – despite it being in the centre of Australia and over 1200 kilometres from the nearest surf beach.

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