Getty Images | Wade Machin

WHETHER YOU’RE AN inexperienced grom just learning the ropes or a veritable veteran of the waves, there’s never a bad time to take a surf trip. As a new nationally representative survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of Budget Australia reveals, throwing boards in the back of the car and taking off with nothing but a wetsuit and some wax is a popular thing to do right now. According to the data, 33% of Aussies are planning their next road trip around surf beaches.

That data shouldn’t come as a surprise. Surfing is deeply ingrained within Australian culture. When foreigners think of Australia, they think of surfing. According to a 2012 study from the International Surfing Association, Australia is home to the second most surfers of any nation, with 1.7 million self-identifying surfers in total – a number that has surely grown since then. It also helps that Australia – indisputably we might add – has the best beaches in the world. Ok, we’re willing admit some bias here, but it can’t be denied that Australia is at least in the upper echelon.

Australia’s 35,877km coastline is dotted with picturesque beaches boasting everything from crushing, pro-level barrels to gentler breaks perfect for beginners. No matter where you land on the experience spectrum, there’s a beach out there for you, and we’ll help you find it.

These are the best surf beaches in Australia, for surfers of all levels of experience.

What are the best surf beaches in Australia?

The best surf beaches for beginners:

Palm Beach, NSW

There might not be a better place to learn to surf than the spot that Home and Away is filmed. If you’re a fan of the fictional Summer Bay, surfing at its real-life counterpart is a no-brainer. But even if you’re not a fan, Palm Beach has all the requirements a beginner needs to stand on their own two feet for the first time. Roughly an hour North of Sydney’s CBD, Palm beach’s picturesque nature merits the drive up, but it also has plenty of relaxed swell and a plethora of surf schools.

Noosa Heads, QLD

For Queenslanders, Noosa Heads will already be one of the most well-known breaks in the country. The beach is a popular tourist destination for in-state and interstate travellers, and it’s also one of the best places to learn to surf in Australia. Swell in Noosa is typically steady and slow, but it has been known to pick up from time to time. Either way, it’s as good as place for a beginner to learn as any.

Anglesea, VIC

Sure, the weather might not be as warm down South in Victoria as it is elsewhere, but at a few select beaches, the waves are just as good. If a scenic drive down the Great Ocean Road is on your itinerary but you’re not quite ready to surf the bigger breaks at neighbouring Bells Beach, Anglesea is a standout option.

The best intermediate surf beaches

Bondi Beach, NSW

How could we not mention Australia’s most iconic beach? If you don’t mind a crowd and are capable of dodging a few obstacles on your way to shore, Bondi should be on your surfing bucket list. You also don’t need to worry about looking like a total kook. Bondi probably has the highest density of learner surfers in the country, so you should blend in nicely. However, it can hold quite big swell on rougher days, which is why we’ve slid it into the intermediate category.

Crescent Head, NSW

Apologies to all of New South Wales’ surfing stalwarts for exposing this spot. Crescent Head is already well known to Australian wave hunters, but it’s been kept relatively secret from the general public – until now of course (again, sorry). The beach’s right-hand point break is suitable for surfers of a variety of skill levels and it remains somewhat quiet outside of peak tourism season. If Crescent Head does ever get too crowded, there’s still a slew of other decent breaks in the same area. We recommend the nearby Big Hill Beach for a more private session. For 90% of the year, you’ll likely be the only surfer in the water there.

Yallingup, WA

Not far from where the Margaret River meets the Indian Ocean, and in the vicinity of the WSL tour’s Margaret River Pro, we have Yallingup. As far as intermediate surf beaches go, Yallingup is trending towards advanced, with big, powerful deep sea swells often forming off its coast. Although, the beach rarely gets quite as wild as its neighbours to the South, making it the best bet for mid-level surfers in the region.

Tallow Beach, NSW

Look, if you’re surfing in Byron Bay, it’s going to be tough to beat the crowds. That being said, if you’re willing to venture outside of the main strip, there are some lesser-known beaches that should be drastically less busy. Tallow Beach also offers a refreshing distinction from the more popular beaches. Byron and Wategos both face in Northerly directions, while Tallow faces Easterly, meaning that while the main beaches are flat, the considerably less crowded Tallow can be pumping.

Best surf beaches for experts

Bells Beach, VIC

Best Surf Beaches

Now we’re getting into best waves in the world territory, with the kind of breaks coveted by the world’s best surfers. First up, we have Bells Beach, home of the Bells Beach Pro. Bells was named Lonely Planet’s Australian surf beach for 2024, and it’s easy to see why. The beach is the surfing capital of Australia and the entire area is steeped in history. The natural layout and steeply rising ocean floor of Bells draws big swells from the Southern Ocean, resulting in large, lengthy waves that can roll right in to shore.

Marion Bay Boneyard, TAS

More commonly known as simply ‘Boneyard’, Marion Bay is one of the best and most challenging waves in Australia. While it’s rare that conditions are perfect, when Boneyard is on, you need to get out there. Don’t let the name put you off though, this break just 45 minutes from Hobart is one of Australia’s best – watch out for sharks though.

Snapper Rocks, QLD

If you’re willing to brave the crowd and fight for every wave with swaths of other surfers, Snapper Rocks is one of the best breaks in the world. If you do manage to get on a wave at Snapper, you could take a nap before reaching the shore. Snapper is Australia’s longest surf break, meaning that competition for waves is extra fierce. But if you do manage to find an opening, it could very well be the wave of your life.

Of course, if you are planning a surfing road trip, you’ll need a car to get you there. In particular, you’ll need one with enough space to store your boards. Thankfully, Budget Australia can take the hassle out of your search for such a vehicle. Find their huge range of SUVs for hire here.


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