Friday, August 12, 2011

A Sun and Surf Lover's Guide to the East Coast of Australia

It's no secret that Australian's are passionate about the sun and the surf. The techniques, professionalism and dedication of Australia's surf lifesaving clubs became the model for lifeguards around the world and Australian professional surfers are among the world's most competitive. What's less known is that the surf lifesaving movement got its start in New South Wales and the bulk of Australia's best surfers learned to surf in NSW. The moral: if you come to Australia for fun in the sun and surf, come to New South Wales first.

What's New South Wales got going for it that the rest of the Australian coast hasn't? In a word, it has consistency. You can always find a wave to ride in New South Wales. While Queensland boasts some of the world's classic surf spots, they only work during the cyclone season, when huge swells generated by Pacific cyclones slam into rocky headlands like Noosa or Snapper Rocks. New South Wales, on the other hand, picks up swell from the tropical north as well as the Antarctic.

You can enjoy warm weather, warm water and great waves any time of the year somewhere in NSW, but not everywhere at the same time:

Summer (December-February) New South Wales Surfing

During the Southern Hemisphere summer months, the water warms up to comfortable "board shorts" temperatures along the coast of New South Wales from the upper south coast to the lower north coast. If you're combining a business or family vacation with a surfing holiday, it's safe to say you will find what you're looking for in the Sydney region. Bondi Beach has good waves for beginning to intermediate surfers, but it also has enormous crowds. Just across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, on the Northern Beaches, you can find waves for every level of ability all the way up the peninsula from Manly to Avalon.

Bondi Beach Sydney

For even less crowds and better waves, head north to the Central Coast or Forster region. You'll want to give yourself at least a weekend in either of these areas, so book your Central Coast accommodation or Forster accommodation in advance. Stay in or around Terrigal or Newcastle for easy access to the best Central Coast waves and at Boomerang Beach in the Forster (also called the Great Lakes) region.

Winter (May-October) New South Wales Surfing

While you can find great waves in Sydney or on the Central Coast during the winter months, the water is cold. You need to wear a full body steamer wetsuit even to take a short dip and the air temperature, though not frigid, can become cold. Up on the north and far-north coast of New South Wales, both the air and the water are warm enough for swim suit surfing all year around. At most, you'll need a spring suit, but for short surfs on even colder days, a pair of "boardies" or a bikini will suffice.

Choose a northern New South Wales accommodation in either Byron Bay or Lennox Head and you can't go wrong. Lennox Head Point (usually just called Lennox) is one of the great point breaks in the world for accomplished surfers and the Pass in Byron Bay is a mecca for surfers of all levels of ability, riding all sorts of surf craft, including bodyboards, short boards and long boards ("Mals" or "Malibus" in Australian).

Byron Bay Beach

The Pass gets unbelievably crowded and Lennox Head's rocky "beach" is not for everyone, but in between the two are some fantastic beach breaks in breathtakingly beautiful natural settings. Broken Head is one of the best.

That's all you need to know about where to find both sun and surf in New South Wales. If you want to find the best place to surf on any given day, call into a neighborhood surf shop and they'll steer you in the right direction.

Sidney writes for 'Book it Now' about popular Australian holiday destinations like Byron Bay. Find Byron Bay accommodation to be in the heart of the action. If you want something a little mellower, then look for some Lennox Head accommodation. Either way, the whole of the far north coast of New South Wales will be at your fingertips.

And for plenty great ideas for things to do, once you have put your board down, take a look at the YouGoDo guides to things to do in Byron Bay, and things to do in Australia.

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