Sydney is one of the few cities in the world with a great variety of surf spots. With ideal surfing conditions all year round and more than 20 surf spots in the city center, Sydney is clearly the surfing capital of Australia. Aloha Surf Journal takes you to this city of surfing and provides the answer to your question: Where to surf in Sydney?
East of Sydney
Bondi Beach is without a doubt the most popular beach in Sydney, maybe even in Australia. Every year, the place attracts a lot of travellers for its beauty and its special lifestyle. In summer, the beach is packed with people and it is literally impossible to walk around. The waves at Bondi are regular and good all year round. Bondi will undoubtedly be the first spot of Sydney that will invite you to the joys of surfing. In the north of the beach, there’s a supervised area for beginners, which is reserved for foam boards.
McKenzies Bay and Tamarama
South of Bondi, you will reach McKenzies Bay and Tamarama, where you find fast hollow waves. Beware, inexperienced surfers stay away! You may run into the rocky ground, or worse, into a local, with whom it’s better not to joke if you’re a stranger. These spots tend to be closed when waves are higher than 1.50m though.
A bit further, you arrive at Bronte. This large sandy beach gets all kinds of swells of all sizes, mostly from the South-South-East.
The path continues to Coogee, a cosmopolitan city populated by expats, surf shops, and cafes. Coogee, due to its sheltered position, is particularly suitable for beginners but may be a good option for anybody interested in huge swells.
Maroubra, known as the territory of the Bra Boys (Kobbe Aberton gang) offers consistent waves. Dunny Bowl, in the center of the beach, is a quality beach break that satisfies most surfers. Otherwise, you will have to wait for the big swell. The big swells coming from the south awaken the reef of Maroubra and its mythical wave “Bear”, a monster breaking on a slab of rocks, which doesn’t leave room for error. Consider going to Malabar if Maroubra is closed.
In the far north of Sydney, Manly is known for providing good conditions all year round. However, the best season for big swells from the north is from November to April. Apart from surfing, Manly is a small town where living is great and perfectly reflects the famous Australian lifestyle. The streets are filled with surf shops and pubs, where beer aficionados hang out and share their exploits of the day.
But why does Manly attract all those surfers from around the world?
In addition to the exceptional living conditions, Manly has a beach break, a point break, and a reef break within just a few meters. The northern tip of Manly is home to the Queenscliff beach break, which offers good waves with southern swells. It often gets closed down though when the waves become consistent. If this is the case, go to the southern part of Manly, which has big swells.
In the heart of Manly, experienced surfers sometimes get beautiful tubes at Steyne’s main beach.
When coming from the north, Queensie Bomby is the first reef of Manly . It’s a dangerous wave that requires patience and commitment. To surf these long, shallow shoulders you will have to wait for big swells.
The South of Manly is quieter and offers good waves for beginners and intermediate surfers.
Fairy Bower is the main reef of Manly. When conditions are good, this spot generates incredible waves and some locals are riding 8-second tubes!
In the far south of Sydney, you find a surf paradise. A 4-kilometer long area called Cronulla offers the most beautiful waves of Sydney. This part of the coast has a wide variety of waves for all levels. Cronulla Point is a dangerous reef break that provides some of the most beautiful waves of Australia on some days. You won’t get bored of surfing all the waves in this area (The Wall, North Cronulla, or Elouera and Wanda for the more adventurous). The somewhat uncomfortable name of Shark Island, off Cronulla, evokes massive hollow waves, some of which can exceed 5 meters.
If these waves are not enough, the area around Sydney is full of beautiful surf spots. All you have to do is travel a few kilometers to discover stunning beaches, where you can surf for days without coming across a living soul. Further north of Manly, the Pacific Highway runs along the coast and makes it easy to explore the Australian coastline.
Freshwater is a good spot. It became famous thanks to Duke Kahanamoku who introduced surfing in 1915.
Narabeen has a few consistent lefts that make you tremble! Furthermore, Curl Curlis is a protected beach break that offers good left and right peaks for all levels and is a good backup when conditions in Manly are too extreme.
Whereas seasoned surfers prefer Dee Why or Butterbox, beginners and intermediates prefer the peaceful atmosphere of Collaroy and Long Reef. Further south following the Princess Highway, the Sydney Royal National Park will meet your expectations. You can surf magical waves in a preserved natural setting on more than 20 kilometers of wild coasts! The best way to explore the park is by car. Garie Beach is the best-known spot, but we guarantee you there are many more.
Some Surf Vocabulary
Swell: A series of waves coming from the ocean
Beach break: Waves near the edge, generally short and steep
Point break: Waves breaking along a cove formed by the coast
Reef break: Waves crashing on a coral reef or rocks. More dangerous
Take-off: Taking the wave
Wipeout: Falling from the board.
Updated 14/11/19 – Initially published 13/08/18