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8 Best Beaches for Surfing in Sydney

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With more than 100 beaches in the vicinity, Sydney is a surfer’s paradise. Whether you’re a novice seeking surf lessons or an experienced wave-rider, you’re sure to find the perfect place for surfing in Sydney.

The central Sydney beaches are by far the busiest, as they're the easiest to reach from the busy city. The further north or south you travel out of town, the less crowded the waves will be. If you can, take advantage of less crowded conditions by surfing outside of peak times i.e. during the week when locals are at work, or early weekend mornings before the crowds wake up.

Unless you're a pro surfer don't think about bringing your surfboard from back home – you can either rent one by the day at one of the numerous surf shops or, if you’re planning to spend a decent amount of time next to the Australian coast, buy a used surfboard which you can sell again when you leave.

So whether you're someone who lives to surf, or you're a total novice ready to dip your toes into the swell, read on for some of the best spots for surfing in Sydney.

Bondi Beach

Bondi beach for surfing in Sydney
Bondi beach is a popular destination for both locals and travelers alike.

One of the top places to visit while in Sydney, this bustling beach is known the world over for its rich history and party vibe and is therefore often insanely crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. When there's a northerly wind blowing, Bondi is the best place to be, but it gets barrel waves only occasionally.

Visitors should be aware of wild waves in the middle of Bondi beach, which is why most people, including beginners, flock to the northern corner as it's protected by the Ben Buckler Headland and generally gets smaller waves. Experienced surfers seek out the more difficult south side or enjoy waves when there's a challenging southerly wind creating big swells.

Tip: Beginners will find plenty of Bondi beach surf lessons available as well as numerous board rental options but due to the infamous location, prices are high.

Check out this tour that stops over at Bondi Beach on the way to Byron Bay.

Location: 7 km east of Sydney Central Business District (CBD)
Best time to visit: All year
Surf level: All
Crowd level: Ultra crowded
Surf break: Beach (left and right)
Wave size: 50 – 150 meters
Swell range: 1 – 2.5 meters
Beware of: Wild waves in the middle of the beach, rip currents and marine life

Manly Beach

Manly beach for surfing in Sydney
Reaching Manly beach takes a 30-minute ferry ride from Sydney harbour.

Well-known and loved for its serious waves, which are best enjoyed when there's a southerly wind, Manly surf boasts superb right-hand point breaks. Manly is a popular day-trip for locals, many of whom access it via a short (30 minute) ferry ride across Sydney harbour. This means it gets very crowded at peak times (weekends and out of school/office hours).

The beach caters to everyone from beginners seeking surf lessons (Manly is the ideal 'learn to surf’ beach) right up to the expert surfer. Novice surfers should head to the southern end of the beach which is generally well protected when there are southern winds. However, if there's a northerly wind, this beach is best avoided for novices.

Tip: If you generally seek calmer surf conditions get to Manly early, you'll also avoid the spectators and some of the crowds.

Location: 17 km northeast of Sydney CBD
Best time to visit: Winter (June - August)
Surf level: All
Crowd level: Crowded
Surf break: Point (right)
Wave size: 50 – 150 metres
Swell range: 1 – 1.5 metres
Beware of: North swell, rips, rocks, and marine life; jellyfish in summer months from December to February.

Palm Beach

Palm beach for surfing in Australia
Palm beach's consistent waves are perfect for beginners.

A fair trek from Sydney CBD, the southern end of the beautiful Palm Beach is one of the best surf beaches in Sydney for novices to learn to surf, whether they be kids or adults. The sheltered location and consistent waves are generally so safe and calm that this section of the beach has been nicknamed Kiddies Corner. In contrast, the middle of this section of beach and the headland break at Barrenjoey are something else, producing big barrel waves when the swell is up. You might have heard of Palm Beach or think it looks familiar – this is where the long-running TV sitcom Home and Away is filmed.

Location: 45 km north of Sydney CBD
Best time to visit: All year
Surf level: Beginner to intermediate
Crowd level: Crowded
Surf break: Beach (right)
Wave size: 50 –150 metres
Swell range: 1 – 2 metres
Beware of: Rips, rocks and pollution

Maroubra Beach

This beach gets consistently good waves with some monster barrels, yet isn't nearly as crowded as the nearby Bondi beach which makes it a superb location to enjoy some surf time. The north end of the beach is not for the faint-hearted — it sees only the most talented surfers due to the big swell — whilst the south side is a little more low-key and has more manageable waves, so better for intermediate surfers.

Tip: One thing to note is that there are no surf-shops near here, gear can only be rented through the solo surf school, so arrive prepared.

Location: 10 km southeast of Sydney CBD
Best time to visit: Autumn (March - May)
Surf level: Intermediate to advanced
Crowd level: Moderate to crowded
Surf break: Beach (right and left)
Wave size: 50 – 150 metres
Swell range: 1 – 2 metres
Beware of: Rips, rocks and pollution

Freshwater Beach

Freshwater, otherwise known as 'Freshie' is a popular beach in the summer months and a good beach for both novice and experienced surfers. The beach is protected from the harsh northerly winds and best enjoyed when there are northeast to southwest winds.

The best spot for beginner surfers is at the northern end of Freshwater beach during high tide, where a good swell makes for some fun green beginner waves. Whitewater waves and both left and right handers can be ridden in the southern part of the beach for the more experienced surfer.

Location: 17 km northeast of Sydney CBD
Best time to visit: Autumn (March - May)
Surf level: All
Crowd level: Crowded
Surf break: Beach (right and left)
Wave size: Up to 50 metres
Swell range: 0.5 – 2 metres
Beware of: Rips, rocks and marine life

Cronulla Beach

Cronulla beach for surfing in Sydney
Visit this beach during the midweek to avoid large crowds.

Boasting the longest beach in Sydney, Cronulla is one of the best surf spots in Sydney. The beach sure knows how to pull in the crowds on weekends with its strong surfing community. If you seek some time away from the crowds, visit mid-week and avoid the southern end of the beach, heading instead to the northern end known as Greenhills. Here the waves can be smaller, making it ideal for beginners, just be aware that the most of the north area of Greenhills has no shallow sandbars, so avoid this section of beach if there are south swells and you're just starting out.

Location: 26 km south of Sydney CBD
Best time to visit: Any time of the year
Surf level: All
Crowd level: Crowded at weekends, empty during the week
Surf break: Sandbar (right and left)
Wave size: 50 – 150 metres
Swell range: 1 – 2 metres
Beware of: Rips

Curl Curl Beach

One of the best places to surf in Australia, the easterly swells from westerly winds at mid tide create the best waves in this northern Sydney beach. This is a reliable beach to head to when the surf is small at other beaches, as Curl Curl benefits from the most swell due to its exposure.

The location does make this a crowded surf spot, although it doesn't suffer from the same overcrowding such as Manly (see below), and you should be able to find a peak somewhere along this glorious stretch of beach. The mid-part of the beach (mid Curly) is the ideal spot for learning to surf, while north Curly has heavy shore breaks and south Curly gets many rips but is only good for surfing at high-tide due to the reef section.

Fun fact: Interestingly, the name Curl Curl comes from the Aboriginal curial curial which means ‘river of life’, called so as the north part of the beach is a lagoon which flows out to sea.

Location: 18 km north of Sydney CBD
Beat time to visit: All year
Surf level: All
Crowd level: Crowded
Surf break: Beach (left)
Wave size: 50 – 150 metres
Swell range: 1 – 4 metres
Beware of: Heavy rips, rocks and sharks

North Narrabeen Beach

Narrabeen beach for surfing in Sydney
This beach became a National Surfing Reserve in 2009.

This world-class beach, often called 'North Narra' or 'Northy' has the most reliable waves and,  due to its exposed location, also boasts perfect barrel waves when the wind is blowing northwest to northeast. For these reasons, it's where you'll find some of Australia's greatest pro surfers. Unfortunately, this also means the beach is frequently crowded with competitive locals, making it difficult for a newcomer to catch any decent waves! You'll need to prove your worth whilst also showing respect.

Tip: If you're feeling a little intimidated by all the pros, walk 1,500 meters to the end of the beach where you should be able to find a little surfing solitude, especially if visiting mid-day in the week.

Location: 25 km north of Sydney CBD
Beat time to visit: Autumn/winter (March – August)
Surf level: Advanced/pro
Crowd level: Crowded
Surf break: Point (left)
Wave size: 50 – 100 m
Swell range: 1.5 – 5 m
Beware of: Heavy rips, obstacles and competitive locals

Best time to visit Sydney for surfing

So that's the best beaches covered, but you might be wondering when is the best time of year to visit Sydney to enjoy optimal surfing. Sydney's subtropical climate means surfing can be enjoyed at most beaches all-year round, but the best time is during Australia's spring (October–November) or autumn (March–May) when temperatures will average 24ºC. Saying that, winter (June –August) can also be a superb time to visit, especially for experienced surfers hoping to ride some barrel waves. Mid-summer (December-February) is best avoided as the weather can be inconsistent as well as wet.

We hope this article covering the best beaches for surfing in Sydney has helped you to narrow down which beach you should get down to for enjoying the waves. Whether it's your first time surfing anywhere or just your first time surfing in Sydney, you're in for an amazing time.

If you need a break from the surf in Sydney, you might be interested in one of these Sydney city day tours.

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