East Coast Australia's 9 Best Surf Spots For Newbie's
Tue 15 Apr 2014
From An American Newb’s Perspective (With Help From A Few Seasoned Surfers Along The Way)
You may have already lost faith in me with the word “newbie” but wait—as an American tourist traveling down the east coast, I had a very unique experience. No, I’m not a backpacker. This is my least favorite assumption and stereotype. My boyfriend and I did not wreak havoc in every east coast town we came across and we did not stay at hostels (well okay just one time). We were given a truly local experience. Our hosts took us in like family and with this we were graced with the “secret” surf spots of each beautiful Australian coastal town we came across.
1. Snapper Rocks, Coolangatta
Okay so I guess this isn’t quite a secret seeing as thousands show up for the annual surf comps. Ironically we happened upon Coolangatta during one of these said comps, The Quicksilver Pro ASP World Tour. Unlucky for our amateur surf skills, which were definitely not good enough to hit the highly populated waters where even the pro’s were getting surf scars from fellow surfers riding over their backs. Oh and not to mention the gigantic waves. The only previous waves I had witnessed in the U.S. were skinny-dipping the Rhode Island Atlantic in college and body surfing at the Jersey Shore as a kid. Believe me these waves are big to a newb. But to a more seasoned surfer in off-season—I can only imagine Snapper would be prime. Some surfers even consider Snapper’s “Super Bank” as the “longest, most consistent and hollow wave in the world” and home to pro surfers Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmore, there must be some kind of magic in those waves right?
Best for: Experienced Surfers
*If you head around the corner to the public beach the waves are much smaller and more manageable for beginners. Although you may feel a bit embarrassed joining the beginner 4 year olds who are catching waves with ease, you could learn something from them. Bonus: at least you’re a bit out of sight from the pros. But remember everybody was a beginner once.
2. The Point, Yamba
The Point is nestled back behind the blue and green angourie pools, a tourist trap, which is exactly how we discovered it. The day we found ourselves there the waves were much too big for us to surf but we did get to witness some pros who had shown up with their camera crews for the big waves that day. The point was kind of like a hidden Snapper Rocks that has not yet been fully revealed and discovered. Therefore making it much more appealing. Although you may not necessarily be able to surf this spot, grab, a spot on the rocks or beach and observe the technique of the more experienced surfers.
Best for: Experienced Surfers
3. Bluff’s Beach, Illuka
My favorite spot. You were probably starting to think I was a bit of a wuss/unreliable source seeing as I didn’t even surf the above locations. Iluka is a beautiful small hidden town that has not yet been discovered by tourists, yay! Our lovely hosts pointed us in the right direction and we discovered the most amazing spread of waves and a beach all to ourselves, except for the occasional shark or dolphin, oh ya, and that old guy reading under a palm tree. Does it get any more idealic than that? Although most surfers hate white water we loved it! It gave us a chance to feel the board out and get used to catching the wave after it had already broken with enough momentum to keep us going. I was finally able to face my fear of the “big waves” here and I went all out! Although be careful for the rip, it almost got me and my weak gangly arms had to save the day. Eeks!
Best for: Beginners
4. Burleigh Heads
Burleigh Heads is just north of Snapper Rocks and although it is another popular surf spot it isn’t quite as overpopulated as Snapper Rocks can be. And depending on the day the waves aren’t quite as intimidating. Although we hit Burleigh on a rough day and the wrong time of day, we enjoyed giving it a whirl. Beware: the waves are bigger and rockier on the southern corner of Burleigh. This is for more experienced surfers. If you’re looking for a safer, easier alternative walk up the beach a bit.
One of my personal favourite pictures of Tyler taking a bit of a digger…
5. Diggers Beach, Coffs Harbour
We loved Diggers Beach. Each time we went there we had the beach completely to ourselves. The wave breaks were awesome and gave us the option of catching the waves after they had broken with enough power to ride a ways in. There were also a variety of different sized waves that could meet different level surfer’s needs. Watch out for the rip though, it’ll get ya.
6. Main Beach, Byron Bay
Byron Bay’s over-all laid-back hippy vibe provides a great place for beginner surfers, judgment free. The main beach is full of every level of surfer and easily accessible from town if you’re walking with your board. The waves can be bigger, so make sure to catch it when the tide isn’t too far in. Face dives into the sand never feel good.
7. Manly Beach, Sydney
Our first and only trip to Manly was merely a lazy beach day sunbathing. After a few too many beers at the pub, we weren’t in the best condition for a surf. The day we arrived at Manly was also extremely rough and while experienced surfers were flocking into the ocean, tourist swimmers were being whistled out—funny how that works. I could imagine on a calm day Manly would be the perfect spot for a beginner surfer. Local surf schools provide boards and lessons for all surfing abilities.
8. Bells Beach, Victoria
Although I’ve yet to be touched by the magic of Bell’s Beach, it can’t go without mention as it is the home of the world’s longest-running surf competition—The Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival, originally known as the Bells Beach Surf Classic. If you’re planning to surf Bells it’s probably best to come prepared with a wetsuit. Southern waters can get pretty chilly in the autumn months. These waves are probably suited more for the pros, but if there is a break in the competition it probably means the waves aren’t big enough, therefore they might be just right for a newb.
9. Coolum Beach, Yaroomba
Coolum Beach was our first surf. Although the conditions were some of the worst that day, we instantly fell in love with the sport. We both got up and enjoyed a few glorious second(s) gliding along the water getting the feel for it. Coolum is a town just south of Noosa, a well-known capital of surfing. Coolum Beach is ideal for beginners because the crowds tend to flock to Noosa, leaving Coolum less crowded and touristy.
Bonus: It’s a popular beach for dog walkers, so you’ll get to watch some cute pups splash around as well.
1. If you’re starting to get frustrated take a break.
2. Don’t set your standards too high, start slow. Get a feel for the board first before trying to get up. If you force it, it won’t work. Feel the wave and you will know when its right to take it and stand up.
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously, have fun with it, laugh when you wipe out and smile when you stand for just a few seconds.
4. Don’t worry about what other surfers think. Everybody had to start somewhere right? Even Kelly Slater.
Kelley is an American Journalist that has a thirst for writing, travel, adventure and trying new things. She is currently on a working holiday here in Australia. When sheï¿½s not blogging she can be found doing yoga, hiking, or watching movies.
Snapper Rocks, ASP World Tour 2014
Birds eye view of Snapper Rocks
Seagull at Manly Beach
Surfers at Manly Beach
Exploring the Point in Yamba
Smooching pups at Coolum Beach
Striking a pose at Diggers Beach
Enjoying the views at Diggers Beach
Found a washed up fishing pole mid-wave at Byron Bay's main beach
An old man enjoying some shade at Bluff's Beach
My boyfriend taking a digger at Burleigh Heads
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