Surfers looking for the perfect wave know that Sydney’s beaches are the place to be. The city boasts dozens of beaches where the relaxed Australian surf culture can be sampled. If you’re reluctant to follow the crowds to Bondi Beach and Manly Beach, there are plenty of alternatives. Here are five lesser-known jewels that offer a fantastic and varied surf experience.
Whale Beach is located in one of the most affluent districts in Sydney. The beach is flanked on both sides by huge rock outcrops. Local surfers love coming here for the famous Whale Beach Wedge on the northern side of the beach. Here, A-shaped-waves are common (waves that create a point in the shape of an ‘A’ which then breaks on two sides) and prized among surfers. Whale Beach gets its name from the whales that pass by on their migration (June/July and September to November) and can be watched from the cliffs.
When your luck turns and the waves on the other beaches are not playing along, make your way to Curl Curl. The beach does justice to its name: Metres-high waves are sure to be breaking thanks to the sand banks off the coast. There is safe swimming to be had in the two saltwater swimming pools at Curl Curl, where surfers take a break from their strenuous paddling in the strong current. Getting hungry from your exertions? The local surf club is reputed to have the best bacon and egg sandwiches in the area.
Among the northern beaches of Sydney lies Long Reef Beach, an extension of the Dee Why Beach. Here a westerly wind and a southerly swell (fashioned by the wind on open water) create a reasonably constant surfing climate. The waves are at their highest in the middle and southern stretches of beach. Because the wind here is nearly always strong, the beach is also popular among kite surfers and hang gliders.
For real daredevils the waters at Shark Island are the ultimate surf spot. The reef here is made up of sharp stones and the sea is barely two metres deep. The waves are absolutely fantastic, but anyone failing to correctly estimate their take-off can expect to end up with some impressive grazes. Obviously these waves are only to be tackled by very experienced surfers and then only after lots of practice.
On Newport Beach surfers have two options. On the north side the waves break on the beach, generating lovely long waves and a relaxed surf experience. It is harder work on the south side of the beach. Here the waves break on a reef in the sea that creates the infamous barrels: Waves on which the top moves faster than the bottom, producing a tremendous tunnel effect. It is a sport in its own right to catch the right moment to land inside the barrel and be carried along by the wave. When you’ve finished with surfing, head for a cool lager in the gigantic beer garden of the Newport Arms Hotel.