6 best Sydney beaches for beginner surfers
A swelling wave beneath your feet, the smell of salt in the air, the cerulean sky stretching endlessly around you. It’s no wonder that surfing is Australia’s national pastime, with more than 70 surf-friendly beaches in Sydney alone.
If you’re new to the board, surfing on a beach known for good, steady waves will make the whole learning process smoother, safer, and more enjoyable. When in doubt, always remember the three R’s—rocks, reefs, and rips. Check for the weather conditions, stick to beaches patrolled by lifeguards and ask a friendly local for some help. Still don’t know where to begin? We’ve put together a list of beginner-friendly beaches and surf schools to help you get the feel of your first wave.
1. Palm Beach
Not only is it the set of the iconic Australian television show Home and Away, but Palm Beach is also one of the best surf beaches in Sydney for novices to learn to surf. Stretching over 1.4 miles, we recommend for beginners to head to the southern end, also known as the “Kiddies Corner” for the small, mellow, and fat waves. You can count on the consistent gentle waves to build your confidence and pick up the skills to handle a steep take-off.
Feeling wiped out after too many wipeouts? Take a stroll up Barrenjoey Headland to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse for stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, the vast green canopy of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, and the sphinx-like silhouette of Lion Island. And if you’re a Home and Away fan, check out the Home and Away tour which will bring you to all of the show’s iconic spots.
2. Maroubra Beach
Regarded as one of Sydney’s best surfing spots, Maroubra Beach is the first dedicated National Surfing Reserve in New South Wales, loved for its consistently good waves all year round. Take in the sparkling waters in peace—Maroubra Beach generally has fewer crowds than many of Sydney’s other beaches, and the long and wide beach means more sand and surf to go around.
If you are a beginner surfer, stick to the south side of the beach to avoid the big swell in the north. Don’t own a surfboard or wetsuit? Gear-included surfing lessons are available at the beach, where you can learn to master the rolling waves safely in a private or group class.
“The instructor was great, really fun and patient, making sure to spend time with each person. I would highly recommend for beginners or anyone who wants to get some tips to improve their surfing.” - Estruth
3. Bondi Beach
It doesn’t get more iconic than Bondi Beach. Located close to the city center and easily accessible by train and bus, the pristine beach along the Pacific Ocean will take your breath away with its glistening waters, golden sand, and a hearty dose of seaside spirit.
Beyond just its beauty, Bondi Beach is also a great place to surf, known for its curling waves. For beginners, head to the northern end of the beach which is protected by the Ben Buckler headland for gentler waves. The waves can get wild in the middle and down the southern side of the beach—not to mention the crowds at Bondi Beach—so give Let’s Go Surfing a holler for some lessons to guide you along.
After a hard day’s surf, sit back and drink in the views at Bondi Iceberg Club. Be serenaded with the peaceful rhythms of the waves breaking against the shore and hop into one of the world’s most photographed outdoor pool.
“Probably the best beach in Sydney, favorite of surfers and the young crowd, with lots of sand, sun and fun things to do, with lots of restaurants nearby.” - Evan Braz
4. Manly Beach
Another paradise for surfers, Manly Beach is a great starting point for beginners with plenty of surf schools and soft powdered sand. The central bit where the sandbanks line up is where the waves tend to be the most reliable and manageable, making it less daunting for beginner surfers. There are also wedges and peaks along the whole length of the bay if you’re ready and comfortable to take your surfing to the next level.
“Spent a day at Manly Wharf and Beach. It was a fantastic day and experience. The waves were real good (between the lifeguard flags of course) for body surfing. There were currents pulling southwards but not too strong. Water temperature just right. Many good feasts around the area too!” - Jim Kambanis
5. Freshwater Beach
Affectionately known by the locals as “Freshie”, Freshwater Beach is the birthplace of Australian surfing. Make a pilgrimage to the northern headland to visit a life-size statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the Hawaiian surfer who popularized surfboard riding with a hand-carved board. This Aussie surfing landmark is a wind-swept long strip of sand located north of Manly Beach. The beach is wedged between two headlands, making it well protected from most swells, and the established sandbanks make for gradual and consistent waves that roll into the shoreline. The gentle waves at Freshie’s middle-northern end are excellent for beginner surfers.
There is also a popular ocean pool located at one end of the beach for you to enjoy a quick dip or to swim some laps, and quaint little shops around the area to pop by after a fun day of catching some waves.
“Spent some time here with friends learning how to surf. The water was clean, waves were good, water was a good depth and the beach was clean.” - Rachael W
6. Cronulla Beach
With some of the longest beaches in Sydney, Cronulla’s beaches have plenty of surfing breaks that cater to surfers of all levels. Popularized by Mark Occhilupo, a former World Surfing Champion, Cronulla is a sunny beach break with consistently clean waves.
If you’re new to the sport, we recommend heading over to Wanda Beach, located north of Cronulla. Cruise with ease here along the white-tipped surf—the northern end has smaller waves, making it more welcoming for beginners. Tucked away from the crowds, this hidden gem is more secluded and less touristy, so beginners can learn in peace without having to worry about dodging another surfer. However, there are no sandbars in the northern end of the beach which means there is no shallow ground to break up the swells. Tackling these south-facing swells will be more demanding for novices.