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Best Surf Beaches in Sydney

Surfing in NSW is a bucket list item. Check out our list of the top surf spots in Sydney

No one who comes to Sydney is disappointed with their surfing experience.

Surfing was originally brought to Australia in 1914 by Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku who visited Sydney and caught a wave at Freshwater Beach (his board is still on display at the Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club). Since then, surfing has become a national pastime and a fundamental part of the Australian lifestyle. We have produced many world champion surfers since surfing arrived in Australia, including Sally Fitzgibbons, Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmore.
Now Australia is known to have some of the world’s top surfing beaches, with four Sydney beaches featuring on the National Surfing Reserve Register. However, while there may be over 70 surf beaches throughout Sydney, only some actually cater to all skill levels. For any newbies to surfing, one of the biggest mistakes made is assuming that all Sydney beaches are ideal for learning to surf.
That is why we have created this helpful guide outlining the top surf beaches throughout the city, from Bondi and Manly to Cronulla and Maroubra there are plenty of great spots for surfing.  

Sydney has some of the most beautiful and iconic beaches in the world with clean sand and warm waters for locals and tourists alike to enjoy. As a professional surfer Manly, Freshwater and Maroubra offer plenty and beginners can get a full experience and lessons at Maroubra, Manly and the famous Bondi beach

- World Surfing Professional, Sally Fitzgibbons

Surfing Etiquette

Before you hit the surf in Sydney, there is a handful of ‘rules of the water’ all surfers must abide by – regardless of experience. Take a look at our surfing etiquette infographic and you’ll be ready to start catching waves before you know it.
surfing infographic

Top Surf Beaches Across Sydney

The below map outlines the top six surfing beaches across Sydney, that are suitable for everyone - from novices to pros.

Manly Beach
Manly Beach. Image Credit: Destination NSW

1. Manly Beach

Ideal for: Novices to beginner surfers
Best swell direction: South winds 
Popularity: Very popular on weekends 
Board hire /surf school: Yes, try Manly Surf School
Parking: Parking in Manly can be challenging with only 2 main multi-stories and limited spaces along the beach front – we recommend leaving the car at home and catching the ferry or bus.

Only a 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay (and located in Sydney’s northern beaches), Manly is ideally placed for Sydney-goes looking to test out the waves. As one of Australia’s most famous beaches, Manly played host to Australia’s first world surfing contest back in 1964. Since then Manly has raised many surfing heroes such as Layne Beachley. If you head down for a surf or a lesson, you may even catch a professional carving up the waves. The southern end of Manly Beach is ideal for those just starting out thanks to its sandbanks and more manageable waves. 

If you are looking to hire out a board or enjoy a surfing lesson, Manly Surf School is the place to go. Offering private and group lessons for both adults and kids, the whole family can get involved! All equipment is provided, you just need to bring along your swimmers and sense of adventure. When visiting Manly for a surfing lesson, or even just a casual surf on your own, it’s important to remember that lower tides are better suited to those just starting out, and children, so it’s well worth checking out the Sydney tides on the day you are looking to visit. 
Once you have worked up an appetite, there are plenty of sandy-feet welcome, cafes and coffee shops. If you’re interested in treating yourself while in Manly, then visit Bistro Manly for a beachside lunch or dinner in a contemporary, laidback and refreshing coastal-feel bistro. 
Freshwater Beach
Freshwater Beach. Image Credit: Destination NSW

2. Freshwater Beach

Ideal for: All levels 
Best swell direction: East
Popularity: Crowded on weekends 
Board hire /surf school: No  
Parking: Paid car park and free street parking can be found in front of Freshwater Beach 
Known as the birthplace of Australian surfing, Freshwater Beach is an Australia surfing landmark, located in the Northern Beaches. Affectionately known to locals as ‘Freshie’ this beach offers family-friendly vibes and shallow waters with plenty of protection from strong Northerly winds, making it an ideal beach for surfing if you are just starting out. If you are interested in taking a surfing lesson, visit Surf Skool to book in a session - it’s guaranteed to be a lot of fun.
Freshwater Beach is most appealing to surfers when there is an eastern swell with a mid-high tide so be sure to check the forecast before you head down. Early Sunday morning’s Nippers take over the beach, and the weekends and school holidays can make for a pretty crowded beach.
After your day out surfing head to SaltBush Café for a killer bacon and egg roll, or Pilu Baretto for Italian-inspired food enjoyed al fresco overlooking Freshwater Beach. 
Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

3. Bondi Beach

Ideal for: All surfers 
Best swell direction: North East swells
Popularity: Ultra popular 
Board hire /surf school: Yes, try Waves Surf School
Parking: Parking is located in the middle and northern ends of the beach
Located in the eastern suburbs, Bondi Beach is arguably Australia’s most famous beach – and a great place to learn to surf. While the waves in the middle of Bondi Beach can get pretty wild, further up towards the northern corner provides protection thanks to the Ben Buckler headland, making it a great surfing spot.
It’s worth remembering that crowds at Bondi Beach can get pretty extreme, and you may be sharing both the beach and the waves with lots of other surfing enthusiasts, so remember that surfing between the flags (all across Australia) is prohibited, and always be aware of other swimmers and surfers in the water. Rips are also common along Bondi Beach, so always keep safety in mind.
After your surf lesson be sure to enjoy a few laps in the Icebergs ocean pool which is open daily and available to the public for a small fee. 
Laidback cafes, restaurants, and boutiques line the back of the beach. For a bite to eat after your surfing lesson head to The Bucket List for Mexican food in a fun setting, or Panama House for a more upmarket meal. 
Maroubra Beach
Maroubra Beach. Image Credit: Destination NSW

4. Maroubra Beach

Ideal for: Beginners 
Best swell direction: East to North East swells
Popularity: Moderate
Board hire /surf school: Yes, try Lets Go Surfing Maroubra
Parking: There are many car parks right along the beach as well as in the back streets.
If you are located in the city and aren’t looking to travel too far for your next surfing adventure, then Maroubra Beach is a great choice. This one-kilometre long stretch of sand attracts surfers, swimmers, families and those just looking to enjoy the beach without the crowds of nearby Bondi Beach. With consistent waves, all year road, Maroubra Beach is great for those looking for a trusty surf break with a bit more space - it really is one of those ideal beaches for beginners.  
If learning to surf, avoid the big swell along the north side of the beach and stick to the south side. In fact, the word Maroubra in Aboriginal culture is believed to mean ‘like thunder’, possibly referencing the punishing waves along the northern side of the beach. Strong rips can also be found along Maroubra Beach so it’s not recommended for those with lower swimming ability. 
Back in 2006, Maroubra Beach became Australia’s first National Surfing Reserve – when you visit the northern promenade be sure to take a look at the commemorative plaque and the surfers Walk of Fame which highlights local sporting legends from Maroubra Beach. 
Tamarama Beach
Tamarama Beach

5. Tamarama Beach

Ideal for: Experienced surfers only 
Best swell direction: South-east
Popularity: Crowded
Board hire /surf school: No 
Parking: Limited street parking in the area 
Wedged between two great beaches in Sydney’s eastern suburbs - Coogee and Bronte Beach, and right along the Bondi to Coogee walk, Tamarama Beach offers a mere 80 meters of shoreline and is a reef beach. 
Labelled ‘Glamorama’ due to it attracting all the beautiful people who like to hang out and enjoy the beach lifestyle, Tamarama is just as popular with surfers as it is with swimmers and sunbathers. Offering great surf at all stages of the tide, Tamarama Beach puts on a show for surfers throughout both spring and winter. 
It is well worth remembering that Tamarama Beach is classed as the most dangerous beach in Sydney for a reason, strong rips and rocky reefs make this beach only suitable for the most experienced surfers. Tamarama is also closed to surfers during patrolled hours, so head along to Bronte Beach for a surf if this is the case. 
Cronulla Beach
Cronulla Beach

6. Cronulla Beach

Ideal for: All levels 
Best swell direction: South East
Popularity: Uncrowded 
Board hire /surf school: Yes, try the Cronulla Surfing Academy 
Parking: There are plenty of places to park near Cronulla Beach 
The longest beach in Sydney, Cronulla offers plenty of opportunities for surfers starting out. It is also the only Sydney beach, which is located along a train line, which means beachgoers can leave their car behind. Comprised of four beaches; Wanda, Elouera, North Cronulla and Cronulla, Cronulla Beach offers lively surfing scene with plenty of surf schools and Surf Lifesaving clubs to get involved with. 
Cronulla Beach is comprised of an exposed beach break that has quite consistent surf throughout the year offering great surf any time of the year for both beginner surfers and pros. Along Cronulla Beach, you’ll find a local community of surfers and swimmers enjoying the waves, while kids and families enjoy the shallows.
If you are looking for a post-surf dip, then head down to the Cronulla ocean pool which lies between Cronulla Beach and North Cronulla Beach, for a few laps. While Cronulla may be less crowded than other Sydney surfing beaches, it is still lined with cosmopolitan eateries including HAM, The Nun’s Pool and Pilgrim’s Café

Staying Safe at Sydney’s beaches

Sydney’s beaches are littered with rip currents, so before you head out to surf it’s important that you are beach safe and able to identify a rip, and what to do if you get caught in one. The below infographic by Surf Life Saving Australia (NSW) helps to explain the signs of a rip, and how to get out of a rip current.

How to survive a rip infographic

No matter when you decide to surf in Sydney Accor has your Sydney accommodation sorted with a range of inner-city and beachfront accommodation to choose from. Book your Sydney accommodation now!

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