Surf Australia, two words which go hand in hand. One of the first things people think of when Australia is mentioned is the surf culture and typical bleached blond, suntanned surfers. Whether you’ve never tried surfing before, or you’re an expert, there are waves suitable for everyone. If you’re more of an expert you’ll find our checklist for packing for surf trips very helpful. Check out our list of popular Australian surf spots if you’re more of a beginner so you know where to head! (If you’ve never tried surfing before we highly recommend taking a surf lesson. Not only are you more likely to be able to stand up on your board, you’ll also learn the etiquette of the waves.)
Popular Surf Spots Australia
Australia has long been known for its surfers and some excellent surf breaks…
- Bells Beach – where Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze surfed in Point Break. Bells Beach is also home to the “world’s longest continuously running surfing competition – now known as the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.” – wikipedia
- Byron Bay – probably one of the most famous places for surfing in Australia is Byron Bay. They have some excellent surfing beaches and a great surf culture in the town.
- Noosa – not as well known, maybe, as Byron Bay, Noosa holds the annual Noosa Festival of Surfing. Possibly not surprising then that surfing in Noosa is a popular pastime.
- Gold Coast – “This large stretch of coastline is home to an abundance of surf breaks to suit all skill levels and ages.” – read more about Gold Coast Surfing.
- Spot X – Spot X Surf Camp is located on the east coast of Australia and is a ‘secret’ location which is becoming very popular with surfers.
How to Pack for Surf Trips
While traveling to chase surf cycles has long been romanticized on the silver screen, the actual reality of traveling to surf requires a lot more careful thought and logistical planning than is typically depicted in the movies. So whether you’re flying out to hit a big day at Jaws, or just planning a surf trip, a little bit of intelligent packing can make your life a lot easier, and up your chances of having successful surf trips around the world.
If you’re into surfing it’s worth investing in some good quality gear. If you’re spending money on this stuff then you need to know what to consider before buying.
The only thing more important to your surf trip than a good surfboard bag is the board it carries. Airlines are notoriously hard on oversize luggage like surfboards. There’s nothing quite like the heartbreak of touching down at your destination only to find your precious boards mangled at the baggage claim. A good board bag will help protect your expensive boards and makes them much easier to manage in the airport.
What to look for
Look for a bag with thick padding, and good handles and straps, that fits your needs.
- How many boards do you want to bring on this trip?
- How long is your board?
- Does it have a unique shape that might not fit in standard bags?
Make sure your bag fits your board well, without too much wasted space. A good surfboard bag will also have pockets that allow you to carry accessories like wax and spare fins with your board. Often board bags will have a thin internal “sock” to protect your surfboard. Or pack your spare clothes around the board, they’ll help pad it, leaving more room in your other bags.
It’s also a good idea to bring along a good backpack that can double as your carry-on. Many surf spots require a bit of a hike to get to, and a good backpack makes getting all of your gear to and from the beach much easier. Some surf-specific packs have special waterproof compartments to hold your wet gear so that your boardshorts don’t get your street clothes wet. Another option is to bring a few small garbage bags to help keep your clothes from getting wet and sandy.
Wetsuit or rash guard / rash vest
Depending on where you are surfing you might need a wetsuit to deal with cold water, or maybe just a rashguard (also known as a rash vest, or ‘rashie’ in Australia) for some lightweight protection if your destination is more tropical.
There’s as wide a variety in wetsuits as there are in waves, everything from 8mm thick, fully hooded suits, down to very thin wetsuit jackets that just cover your torso.
No matter what wetsuit you get, try to carry it on your flight. That way if your luggage gets delayed, you’ll still have your wetsuit, and can surf. It’s much easier to rent or borrow a board than to find another wetsuit that fits you well.
It’s very important to plan ahead for where you will be surfing, and make sure to bring an appropriate wetsuit. Current ocean temperatures for most popular surf spots are available online, so make sure to plan ahead.
If you’re traveling to surf somewhere that’s warm enough that you don’t need a wetsuit, a rash guard is an essential piece of equipment. Rash guards insulate, protect you from your board, and they protect you from the sun.
Just like sunscreen, rash guards have an SPF rating to help protect against sunburn. Look for an SPF rating of at least 50. It’s important to remember that a rashie is not a substitute for sunscreen, instead it’s an additional helper. Make sure to put sunscreen on underneath your rash vest as it will often ride up. Make sure to still wear sunscreen on your body the rash vest doesn’t protect like your hands and face.
Spare Fins and Leashes
Even if you’re traveling to a popular surf spot with good shops, it’s a good idea to bring spare surfboard fins and leashes for your boards, along with the tools to swap them out. It’s easy to break a fin or a leash. If you have a spare one ready on the beach you can replace it quickly and get back to surfing, instead of having to go find a replacement that fits your board. The same goes for board wax and a scraper. They’ll probably have them available at your destination, but you’ll be better off if you’re prepared. A good board bag will have pockets to store these accessories so they’re always available.
Even if you’re focused on surfing, don’t forget to pack for all the time you’ll spend off the water. On surf trips it’s a good idea to bring versatile clothes that will work for a variety of occasions.
- A collared shirt will help wick sweat while you’re traveling or hanging on the beach. It looks good at the bar too!
- Board shorts with a more subdued pattern will work on the water, or in the airport.
- A good watch will help you keep track of tides and swells, and help you make your flights on time.
- Extra pair of sunglasses. We’d also recommend bringing more than one pair of sunglasses. If you break or lose a pair you’ve got a backup, instead of having to shop in a more expensive tourist market.
The rest of your clothes will depend on your destination. One of the best parts of surf trips is that you’ll be in your board shorts or swimsuit for most of the time anyways!
Where to stay? If you’re heading to Australia to surf and need somewhere to stay we have hostels all up the East Coast.
- Byron Bay – check out Nomads Byron Bay or The Arts Factory Lodge
- Noosa – stay at Nomads Noosa
- Spot X (Arrawarra) – stay at Spot X Surf Camp
- Surfers Paradise – Sleeping Inn Backpackers
- Melbourne – Nomads Melbourne, All Nations or Nomads St Kilda
Author: We are evo. A ski, snowboard, mountain bike, surf, wake, and skate retailer with stores located in Seattle, Portland, and Denver. We also offer trips to remote locations across the globe in search of world-class powder turns, epic waves, and legendary mountain biking through our evoTrip Adventure Travel Trips.
Images – all images provided by Evo