Australia's Top Places to Lap Up the Surf, Sun and Sand

Pro-surfer Sally Fitzgibbons shares her personal picks of the best beaches in Australia for surfing, soaking up the sunshine and waterside activities.

beaches in sydney, best beaches in victoria

As a professional surfer, I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world and surf the best waves each area has to offer. But coming home to the beautiful beaches of Australia will always have a special place in my heart, from the city sands of Bondi or Manly in NSW, to the far-stretching Margaret River region in WA surrounded by crisp, clean air. Aussie beaches aren’t just a destination; they’re a part of our country’s culture. Beachside BBQs, long days with the family under the beach brolly, finding shells along the shoreline and the classic beach cricket match all contribute to making Aussie beaches the best in the world!


— Sally Fitzgibbons

Beaches in Sydney

Sand, sea and socialising - that’s the best thing about beaches in Sydney. There’s always a hive of activity around the coastline at dawn, then come in and grab an awesome brekkie and juice from a local café. 


Manly Beach is one of my favourites. My company has its head office here, The Manly Pacific is my home-away-from-home, and I love hitting the surf at North Steyne (midway point of the beach) for a sunrise session. There’s so many awesome cafes surrounding the beach.


Sydney is great to learn to surf. Typically the waves are smaller than further north or south, and surf schools are everywhere.


Both Maroubra and Cronulla have great beginning banks for surf schools, but also more challenging waves for those who want to push their limits. Take a look at the best beaches for a surf in Sydney.


Best Beaches in Victoria

When I think of the beaches in Victoria, it’s rugged, raw and really beautiful. The country’s hardiest surfers come from this region. 


Bells Beach is a standout. It’s where I won my first ever CT event in 2011. The long, stretching walls allow for great traditional surfing and the iconic cliff faces, lined with locals cheering you on, create an amazing atmosphere in competition.


There’s so much history at Bells, being the longest-running professional surfing competition. The area is very tidal, meaning waves change a lot, and some spots a more user-friendly than others. If you have time, venture down towards Lorne along the Great Ocean Road, and you’ll often find me surfing at Cathedral Rock when I’m in town. 


Phillip Island is on the east coast of Victoria, just off the mainland, and with a combination of world-class barrel waves and beach breaks its perfect for learning to surf. It’s a regular for day-tripping from Melbourne. 

Best Beaches in Perth

The sun sets over the sea in Perth - the beaches are great for long walks, a dip in the ocean or a knock with the cricket bat, but they’re not the best for surfing.


Rottnest Island sits off the coast and shelters a lot of the swell from hitting the coast. If you’re searching for a wave in Perth city, head to Trigg Beach. It catches the most amount of swell, but watch out for the backwash. 


Before you pack your board bag and head east for waves, just three hours south is arguably one the richest surf coasts in the country. The Margaret River Region is a melting pot of incredible waves. Beach breaks, slabs, long points, crystal clear water, loads of wildlife, fresh seafood and healthy local produce make it a favourite of mine.


Margaret River Mainbreak has a right hander on one side which is quite short and steep, and there’s a left which is more forgiving and a longer ride. I’ve been competing here for over a decade and won this year’s CT event, the Margaret River Pro. 

Queensland Beaches

Warm water, sunny skies and point breaks galore – welcome to surfing in Queensland. A favourite for any travelling surfer, Queensland offers some of the best waves in the world. But be prepared, thousands of surfers visit these shores chasing the wave of a lifetime. 


The Superbank is a famed wave linking three breaks together at Coolangatta. My favourite take-off is at Greenmount, about 400 metres from the top of the point, called Snapper Rocks. Greenmount is a hollow, fast running right hander which allows for a combination of fast turns and dreamy barrels. If it’s too crowded, head north towards Surfers Paradise. There are a number of beaches including Palm Beach, Currumbin and Burleigh Heads all offering great conditions. 


To escape the hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast altogether, I head to Stradbroke Island. Located near Brisbane, ferries carry cars back and forth between the island and the mainland. The region is known for its sleepy, coastal vibes and it reminds me a lot of home. The waves are incredible and don’t be surprised if whales and dolphins cruise past you while you surf. 

Wollongong Region

My favourite slice of coast of all is my hometown – the south coast of NSW. From Wollongong down to Ulludulla and beyond, this is where I learned to surf and where I head to fine-tune my technique and approach for competing on the World Surf League. 


Sticking to the Wollongong region, just south of Sydney is Stanwell Park, a very consistent break which usually packs a lot of power. Check out the hang gliders overhead as you surf!


There’s some awesome local venues for a meal after your session and the entire region is surrounded by epic national parks. For something more challenging, check out Sandon Point. Sandon Point is a long-running righthander just in the heart of the Wollongong Region. 


Last, but certainly not least, is my local beach break, Seven Mile Beach. Ideal for learning to surf, the beach break at Gerroa was where I learned to tackle the ocean. It’s where I started chasing my three older brothers into the surf, and where Dad taught me the technique of riding waves.  

Plan Your Beach Trip

Our beaches in Australia are the best in the world. Good luck exploring them, I hope my guide has given you some inspiration. Make sure you are always aware of the surf conditions and stay within your surfing ability. If you’re uncertain, it’s best to stay on the sand than put yourself at risk in the ocean. Enjoy our Aussie beaches and hopefully I will see you in the line-up! 

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