Home to some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches, Australia pulls in thousands of surfers looking to check them out every single year. It’s also an incredibly popular spot to learn to surf, and if you’d like to, there are plenty of choices to check out!
Today we’ll be taking a look at the top ten surfing camps and centres across Oz, as well as everything you need to know before you head out there. Get ready for the trip of a lifetime – by the end of your vacation, you’ll be catching some serious waves.
1. Surf Camp Australia
Owning and operating learn to surf camps since 1999, the folks behind Surf Camp Australia are some of the best and brightest. A team of professional, qualified Australian coaches is waiting to take your surfing to the next level.
Whether two days or a full week, your experience includes transport, wetsuits, delicious foods, comfy accommodation, free photos, a stunning location, plenty of cool places to chill, and enough memories to last a lifetime.
2. Mojo Surf
“Learn to surf, stay, surf, party, stay, relax, take another surf lesson, join a beach volleyball match, have a few cold ones around the campfire, stay, surf, rinse and repeat.” This is the wonderful time awaiting you at Mojo Surf Camp!
Laidback, friendly, and full of atmosphere, they offer two-day starter courses all the way up to a full, three-month academy with your own personal surf instructor. Everything is just minutes away from Byron Bay and Spot X.
3. Surf Getaways (Women Only)
Promising to be better than your average surf camp experience, this isn’t just an opportunity to learn an iconic pastime, but a luxury getaway designed by women for women, allowing you to be coached by some of the best ladies in the business.
You can visit one of their locations in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia or Queensland depending on your preference, but whether you want a few hours of instruction or a full week, you’re bound to benefit from the cool, calm, collected vibe.
4. Waves Surf School
Since 1999, Waves have been offering surf tours and delivering lessons to everybody from brand new surfers to seasoned, experienced enthusiasts seeking a new and exciting adventure.
Although they only offer day and weekend options, you can head to Seal Rocks, Bondi Beach or remote locations in Sydney. They also integrate yoga into some of their camps, if that’s something that takes your fancy too.
5. Stoked Surf Adventures
Choose between four or eight weeks of Sydney, Byron Bay or Brisbane based surf camps with the Stoked Surf Adventures academy experiences, which vow to take you to solid intermediate surfing status.
Even if you’ve got no experience, it’s a fantastic opportunity to boost your skills, gain some confidence and even tackle the more difficult green waves. Even when you’re paddling alongside locals, you’ll feel the excitement and camaraderie.
6. Australian Surf Tours
All inclusive and highly rated by all who visit, Australian Surf Tours are said to be one of the most authentic learning experiences on the continent, as voted by Tripadvisor. A team of local, hand picked guides and instructors will transform your performance!
With four different surf camps to choose from, there’s sure to be an opportunity that suits you, in exclusive locations that won’t have locals or other tourists catching waves whilst you’re trying to learn.
7. Soul Surf Camp
The six day Surf and Stay course with Soul Surf out in beautiful Byron Bay is an excellent choice for surfing, no matter your skill level. You’ll get five, five-hour beach hires, four-hour surf lessons and all of the equipment needed to hit the waves.
It’s one of the most affordable options on our list, so if you’re working on a budget but still want to live your surfing dreams, definitely check this one out.
8. Star Surf Camps Australia
Located at the best spot for beginners to surf in Australia, Star Surf Camps provide beach-front accommodation, fun and friendly vibes, delicious food and even better company.
Your surf lessons will come from experienced instructors, who will also provide you with the latest and greatest equipment. Get ready to fall in love with surfing in 5, 7 or 10 days.
9. Pirates Backpacker’s Surf Camp
The only surf camp like it in all of Western Australia, this course is ready to teach beginner and intermediate surfers to develop their skills – with a maximum of six per group, you’ll get one to one instruction from a qualified surfer.
With three nights of accommodation, three day long surf lessons, board and wetsuit hire, transportation and gorgeous local food, it’s cheap, cheerful and well worth having a look at.
10. SUP Surf Camp
Want to try something different? Stand up paddleboarding is a cool alternative to surfing – check out this camp where you can learn to do this equally as impressive sport instead.
Meal Price Range
Of course, menu costs are going to vary depending on where you’re eating, but on average, you’ll spend approximately $40 (AUD) a day if you’re solely heading to restaurants.
You can expect to pay a general price of around $16 per meal per person at lunch or dinner, with breakfast usually coming up a little cheaper.
It may be that the surf camp you go to provides some or all of your meals for the duration of your stay, which means food will already be included in the calculation of the overall trip cost.
Again, it’s likely that your camp of choice will already be providing surfboards, wetsuits and any other equipment you require whilst staying with them, so do make sure before you head out to rent your own!
If that isn’t the case, then you’re looking at between $50 and $100 (AUD) to rent a surfboard and/or a wetsuit from a reputable supplier like Surf Culture Australia. This is a per-day cost, but certain vendors may offer a bulk discount for renting over a longer period.
Prepaid SIM Cards
As you might have guessed, your current cell phone SIM card isn’t going to work whilst you’re out in Australia. So you can text, call and use the internet on your phone on vacation, you’ll need to pick up a prepaid SIM that works for your device.
Cell provider Optus offers a fantastic $30 Traveller sim, which gives you 60GB of data on your first recharge, lasting a full 28 days, as well as unlimited international calls to fifteen different destinations. You’ll also get unlimited SMS and MMS messaging!
Depending on which of the many stunning surf spots you choose to visit, your transportation options will be different. Typically, you should have access to trains, buses, ferries and trams, as well as public and private taxi services.
It’s also worth noting that if you’ve got a current, in-date driver’s license valid in your home country, you may be able to avoid sitting any additional tests and still be able to rent a car to drive in Australia. Research the state you’re visiting to find out!
According to Global Petrol Prices, the current average rate for gasoline in Australia as of June 2021 is $1.42 per liter and $5.38 per gallon. This is considerably cheaper than, say, the USA, where you’re currently paying $3.076 on average for regular gas.
Types of Risks
Hitting the waves in Australia is not too different or much more dangerous than doing so anywhere else, though there are a couple of things you should be aware of:
A regular occurrence in ‘Oz, if you’re not familiar, a rip current describes a current that is narrow yet strong, flowing away from the beach rather than towards it. Any beach that has consistent breaking waves can form a rip current, dragging you away with it no matter how good a swimmer you are.
They are difficult to spot and often exceed six miles an hour in speed, which makes them especially dangerous – it might not sound that fast, but Olympic swimmers couldn’t hit that speed if they tried!
According to some research by Surf Life Saving, more than 4.2 million Australians have at one time or another been accidentally caught up in a rip current – they take approximately 19 lives a year in the country.
In order to spot and avoid a current, you need to know what to look for. The signs of a possible rip current are:
- Less breaking waves in a certain area
- Water that appears to be darker or deeper
- Broken water that ripples out yet seems to be surrounded by calm seas
- Debris and sand-filled or foamy water outside of the last wave line
There are several particularly nasty creatures lurking in the Australian oceans, including the notorious Box Jellyfish, as well as the Man Of War and Irukandji species of jelly as well.
Box jellies are renowned for their particularly venomous stings, one of the most dangerous to receive: their horrific toxins are deadly and could lead to heart failure and drowning as a result of shock.
Irukandjis are like a box jellyfish baby – much smaller and almost crystal clear, they’re basically physically impossible to detect in the sea. With poisonous tentacles up to a meter long, they’ll be able to get you from afar.
Last but certainly not least, there’s the Man Of War – the smaller, slightly less scary version of the one found in Portugal. With long, flexible stingers that can wrap around your body parts and cause ridiculous pain, interrupting your surf for sure.
In order to protect yourself, be sure to wear a full-length wetsuit, as well as your surf boots and possibly even gloves if you’re afraid.
How to Prepare
Before holidaying in Australia, you’ll need to obtain what’s known as an Electronic Travel Authority. This gives you the ability to visit Australia as much as you like for one 12 month period, staying for up to three months whenever you enter.
It’s free to obtain, but if you apply online then you’ll have to pay a service fee of $20 (AUD) – you must complete the application outside of Australia and be able to present an eligible passport in order to complete the process.
Before visiting Australia, you should ensure your primary vaccinations and any boosters are up to date in accordance with what is recommended where you live. Other than that, none are recommended or advised for visiting Australia.
However, if you are at risk of developing Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, or Japanese Encephalitis, you are advised to get these vaccinations in order to afford yourself the most possible protection.
It is said that Diphtheria and Tetanus shots are worth considering, but not necessary.
Language and Currency
Whilst there is no “official” or legal language of Australia, English is primarily spoken across the continent and has been ever since European settlers arrived.
After English, the most popular languages are Mandarin, Arabic, and Cantonese!
As for currency, you’ll require Australian dollars to spend while you’re there.
They’re very different from other dollars of the world, so don’t try and get away with your own, because they’ll know immediately.
Checking Surf Forecast
The best place to check out the surf forecast for your trip is Surf Line, which has constant live streaming webcams to indicate whether the conditions are good for catching waves, as well as producing a daily report of the conditions, including wave height, wind direction, tide and swell period.
Travel /Surf Insurance
Healthcare can be mighty expensive in Australia if there are not any reciprocal healthcare arrangements between your country and the beautiful, sunny continent. It is well worth investing in travel insurance, surf insurance or both, to guarantee you’ll be eligible for help when you need it without accruing ginormous fees.
Anything Else You Should Know…
That’s pretty much all the practical stuff covered, but whilst we’re at it, let’s go over a quick list of some of the best beaches for surfing you could check out on your visit:
- Gold Coast, Queensland
- Treachery Beach, New South Wales
- Crescent Head, New South Wales
- The Pass At Byron Bay, New South Wales
- Northern Beaches, New South Wales
- Bells Beach, Victoria
- Prevelly Bay, Western Australia
- Noosa Heads, Queensland