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Sydney surf beaches

Highlights

Surfboards and Sydney go hand in hand. Catch a wave (or learn to) on one of Sydney's spectacular surf beaches. Beginners can learn to surf year-round at one of the many accredited surf schools – check out programs in Manly, Bondi and Maroubra – and experienced surfers can enjoy some of Sydney's legendary surf breaks.

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Surf Bondi in 360°

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Sydney's surfing hot-spots

Australian open of surf

The first surfboard hit Australian waves at Freshwater in 1914, when Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku brought the sport over from the US. His original board is still on display at the Freshwater Surf Lifesaving Club. Since then, Australia has produced many World Champion surfers. 

Sydney has approximately 70 surf beaches that cater to all levels of surfing skill, from small waves for beginners to big breaks for the more experienced and adventurous. Four Sydney beaches feature on the National Surfing Reserve Register, a list of iconic surfing spots in Australia: Manly, North Narrabeen, Cronulla and Maroubra.

One of Australia's most famous surf beaches is Bondi Beach, less than 20 minutes on a bus from Sydney's city centre. You'll find serious surfers at the southern end of the beach, while boogie boards and bodysurfers occupy the northern end, whilst visitors to the area all enjoy the myriad bars and cafes by the waterfront.

Further south is Maroubra, a kilometre-long curve of sand that attracts surfers, swimmers and families.

The Cronulla area comprises four beaches – Wanda, Elouera, North Cronulla and Cronulla – and has a lively surf scene with local board-riding communities and lifesaving clubs. You can find several cosmopolitan eateries in Cronulla, with many cuisines from around the world to choose from.

Sydney's Northern Beaches, from Manly to Palm Beach, offer some of the city's prime surfing spots, including Curl Curl, Freshwater, Dee Why and Narrabeen.

Learn to surf with Let's Go Surfing at Bondi, Image Pierre Toussaint

Learn to surf in Sydney

You can learn to surf at an accredited surf school on one of Sydney's favourite beaches. There are great programs at BondiManly and Maroubra. Beginners can learn the skills to catch their first wave, and more experienced surfers can polish their skills.

Australian Open of Surfing

Australian Open of Surfing

With Sydney's beaches having a great reputation for surfing, it's no surprise Manly hosts the Australian Open of Surfing. As well as watching the world's best surfers compete, the festival includes skateboarding, BMX riding, live music and fashion stalls.

Surf life saving event at Freshwater Beach. Image David Druce

Australia's first surf beach

Australian surfing began at Freshwater Beach in 1914. Just a short walk from Manly, this 300-metre long beach, known to locals as "Freshie", hosts a number of surfing events, is popular with families and features a 50-metre, eight-lane saltwater pool at its northern end.

Sydney surf beaches

Less than 10km from the city centre is Bondi, Australia's most famous and stylish stretch of sand. On a summer weekend in Sydney, you'd be hard pressed to find a larger collection of beautiful people than at Australia's most iconic surf beach, Bondi.  

South Bondi is also the business end of the beach for board-riders. The north end is ideal for the soft-board learn-to-surfers, and a shallow kiddies' pool here makes it a big draw with families.  

Also in the east is Maroubra Beach ("The €˜Bra") a 1km curved strip of sand backed by a rifle range and a low-key residential neighbourhood that has a pub and two clubs, surf shops and a short strip with some restaurant and cafe gems. Families are also drawn to the beach's picnic areas, shaded playgrounds and safe rock pools.  

In southern Sydney the 4km of coastline known as Cronulla actually comprises four different beaches – Wanda, Elouera, North Cronulla and Cronulla – side by side on a single broad sweep of southern Sydney sand. Cronulla is a cultural melting-pot, combining local board-riding communities, surf lifesaving clubs, and beach-goers from as far afield as the city's west and south-western fringe.  

In company with Bondi, Manly Beach is Sydney's most iconic strip of sand. Surfing is so embedded in the culture here that there are about 10 surf shops in Manly, making it a great place to shop for clothing and equipment. Other popular activities on offer include beach volleyball, kayaking and scuba diving.

To the north you will discover a long strip of beaches, starting with Manly, about 30 minutes by ferry from the city centre, and tapering to the point of Palm Beach, well known for some of Sydney's most luxurious beach accommodation, fine restaurants and designer boutiques.

Most of Sydney's 37 beaches are situated within 30 minutes of the city centre by public transport. 

Enjoy Sydney’s beaches like a local by following these simple beach safety tips.

Stay safe at the beach

Always swim between the red and yellow flags - surf lifesavers have identified this area as the safest spot to swim in the water. It’s also a good idea to always swim with a friend.

Make sure you read any safety signs at the beach and you are always welcome to ask lifeguards for more safety advice. If you find yourself needing help in the water, stay calm and attract attention.

Check conditions before you go and find a patrolled beach by visiting www.beachsafe.org.au.

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