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Stormrider Guide to surfing Sunshine Coast

Queensland, AUSTRALIA

Tea Tree, Noosa, Moonwalker


+ Groundswells and cyclone swells - Intense crowds
+ Lots of soft right pointbreaks - Fickle pointbreaks
+ Many easy access beaches - Lack of power and size
+ Begginers paradise in Noosa - Fairly expensive

A short drive from Brisbane lies a long coastal strip of pristine beaches, tropical landscapes, shimmering waterways and exciting towns. The Sunshine Coast is the northernmost stretch of reliable surf in Australia and home to the clutch of fabled right points at Noosa Heads. North of the waveless Brisbane zone are a string of modern tourist towns and miles of golden sand beachbreak, plus a few pointbreaks, while beyond Noosa the low tide beach becomes the 4WD highway to Double Island Point and the totally wild landscape of Fraser Island.

When to Go

Winter produces consistent SE groundswells and coincides with the best winds (SE-SW) that often blow from May to August. February to April sees more E windswell bolstering the swell stats for cyclone season, when E-S winds dominate. Avoid the N winds of spring. The northerly drift of coastal sands is a local phenomenon. Summer and winter king tides can reach 2.1m and many beaches prefer more water.

Surf Spots

Caloundra has eight spots facing both north and south. Kings Beach often looks messy and crappy, but transforms to hollow, pitching peaks when NEÕers hit. The groyne at the southern end sits on a rock shelf and entertains thick, cylindrical lefts in most NE-SE swells and is protected from any N wind. A bit further south at Happy's, the sandbars that flank the Pumicestone Passage can output long, full lefts. Moffats is home of the mal and somewhere to tune-up on cutbacks between the long, crumbly sections, which are more makeable at higher tides. The Reef is 20mins paddle and should only be undertaken by accomplished surfers who can manage the drop and spitting keg. Anne Street Reef can get real good on moderate swells, when powerful lefts and rights appear, attracting a crowd. Dicky Beach and Neill St are hollow with a thumping shorey, so naturally a lot of bodyboarders. The surf becomes less crowded and more powerful towards Wurtulla and Long Track in the Currimundi Lake Conservation Park. When the lake flows out, the banks can get some sharp shape and assemble long, peeling walls in winter westerlies. Kawana has tons of access to consistent and hollow beachbreaks, sometimes stabilised on the rock bottom all the way up to The Corner, where NE wind is sideshore. Point Cartwright headland provides S wind shelter for a challenging right point, which shuts down on the eastern breakwall of the Mooloolaba Inlet. Thick walls arch and throw a barrel section on take-off, then it races down the line to the terminal shelf. All tides and winds from SE-W should be ok with any E swell up to 12ft, when it can start breaking past the rivermouth. Inside the usually flat bay on the other side of the river can see some awesome close-out barrels on a big NE swell S wind combo, otherwise it's a good learning area up to Mooloolaba Beach. In small swells, Alexandra Headland or The Bluff is a fat and forgiving righthand point that gets packed with longboarders in the water and tourists on the beach. Handles a bigger swell from the south, when rips increase and the walls have more power, but it is still a fairly benign wave. There's more rights on the inside at the Corner as it heads into the beachbreak lefts. The local longboard legends can be a bit greedy, but the vibe is fairly mellow. Maroochydore is the biggest centre on the Sunshine Coast, incorporating some walled-up beachbreaks and pockets of reef leading down to Alexandra Headland. Avoid the central beach masses by checking places like Pin Cushion behind the caravan park next to the Maroochy rivermouth. WSW winds, all tides and nice SE swell should see some hollow peaks. Mudjimba Island sees serious waves for experts off two sides of the island, with the longer, chunky lefts grinding down a barnacle encrusted reef, creating multi barrel opportunities in NW to NNE winds and a bit of S in the swell. The ledgy rights wrap around the top of the island so work in NE-SE swells and any S wind. Air drops and dry sucks are common, making this a favourite with the bodyboarders. Local vibe can be strong. Careful surfers will hire a boat, as the 30min paddle back is arduous and scary in the sharky waters. Always much bigger than the town beachbreaks, which are often nice and peaky as swell refracts around the island and hits at funny angles. The two tidally dependant, fickle NE-facing rocky beaches of Point Perry and Three Bays need a bit of size to get going, since they are sheltered from S swells and winds by Point Arkwright. At Coolum Beach, the peaks can get punchy and hollow on small to moderate E swells. Stumers Creek often has the goods and there are proper barrels on the good days. Parking quickly becomes a problem in summer. Coolum has many access routes leading to beachbreaks like Peregian Beach and Pitta Street, at the south end of town, where slabs of coffee rock hold the sand together when the surf hits a bit bigger from the SE. Ripable peaks and good shorey sections on high tides. Sunshine Beach is another swell magnet with powerful peaks in the lee of the northern headland. Nice holes and gutters help limit the close-outs and there are many access point all the way down through Sunrise and Castaways Beach. Holds it shape OK in the NEÕers. Relief from the masses requires a long walk through the National Park to Alexandria Bay, which is a consistent beachbreak that picks up any swell going. NE-SE windswell will be breaking here when everywhere else looks flat and the peaks can have some push around headhigh. Exposed to the sea-breezes, SW-N winds will be offshore and it's a classic Qld bush-backed beach that is worth making the effort to surf. Long slog from the National car park or else take the paths north from Sunshine Beach. The Noosa National Park is a natural wonder of the surfing world. Furthest out Granite Bay shows the most size, but relies on sand formations to join the rocks and rarely equals the other points for perfection, especially if there is more E in the wind. It is a bit gruntier, with more water moving and the first couple of sections can offer walled sections for shortboarders before it starts hitting deeper water and shoulders off. It's a long walk out to the low tide jump in spot at Picnic Cove and the rip can be strong in bigger swells. Noosa Heads is a wet dream for most surfers irrespective of their choice of surfcraft. Tea Tree is the locals favourite and a 20 minute walk into the Noosa National Park, which doesnÕt deter the crowds. Steeper and hollower than the other points, especially at low tide, when the first section sucks close to the rocks before sloping off over the inside sandbar. Holds a bit more swell and winds from E-S, but high tide is likely to bring you into conflict with the rocks, unless it is pumping. Hot doggin' locals rule the beautiful bay so take a good look over the left shoulder before going. The walk/jog/run through the bush is often a frenzied affair, stoked by glimpses of perfect lines, rattling the point. Stubbing toes on land and on the wade out is common. Boiling Pot is a bit more rocky and sucky on take-off with a speed section that will either fat out or transport you into the sandy National Park section in the bay in front of the car park. Walk through this sweet shoulder section and you might connect with Johnsons, which is effectively the lead in to First Point, where the swell loses some size and speed, making it mellow, smaller and perfect for beginners. Best waves will appear on headhigh to overhead NE-E swells, low to mid tide to keep off the rocks and any wind from SE to SW. The points which are closer to town suffer even bigger crowds as the novices and the lazy flock to the various take-off spots. Flying longboards, clueless tourists and wave-hog locals all need negotiating. Finding somewhere to park, both on land and in the sea can be tricky. Further north Double Island Point is a safe cyclone swell bet for extremely long rights by the lighthouse and occasional lefts on the beachbreak. Jelly legs and arms dictate walking back, decreasing the chance of meeting the abundant sharks. Reliable, local tour operators and surf schools can provide the necessary 4WD transport. There can be some attractive sandbars along the beach highway beside the Cooloola National Park, for those that don't mind feeling like bait. Sharks, rips and isolation make this an intermediates plus area. As for Fraser Island, there are some good waves up north around Indian Head, but only those with a chain mail shark suit would be able to safely take on the sheer volume and size of sharks that cruise this sandy coastline.


dominant swell NE -NE NE -NE NE -NE NE -SE NE -NE NE -NE
swell size (ft) 4 4 2-3 2 2-3 3
consistency (%) 60 70 60 50 40 50
dominant wind E -S E -S SE -SW SE -SW N -SE N -SE
average force F4 F4 F4 F4 F4 F4
consistency (%) 62 63 59 49 61 73
water temp (C) 26 25 23 21 22 24
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts springsuit springsuit springsuit boardshorts

Travel Information

The Sunshine Coast enjoys a warm, subtropical climate with rainfall concentrated in short wet seasons. There are about 120 rainy days with an annual rainfall of 1200mm (48”in). It has one of the highest sunshine readings in the world, averaging 7h a day. The variation between summer and winter is minimal. Winter varies between 12-21°C (54-70ºF) while summers (Dec-Feb) average 17-28°C (63-82ºF). Spring (Sep-Nov) and autumn (March to May) temps range from 13-25°C (56-77ºF). Temps in the Blackall Range can be a bit cooler while coastal areas enjoy sea breezes. Ocean temps rate up to 26°C (79ºF). No wetsuits are needed Oct-April while a springsuit or thin steamer is perfect from May-Sept.

Lodging and Food
Noosa YHA Halse Lodge offers free surf/bodyboards (fr $20/n), Nomads (fr $19), Noosa Backpackers Resort (fr $31), Sheraton (from $210/n). Other towns are easier to find deals. Expect $15 for a decent meal or cheaper for fast food.

Nature and Culture
Visit Underwater World in Mooloolaba, the Glasshouse Mountains, Australia Zoo with its amazing saltwater crocodile shows and Aussie World in Caloundra. Take a 4WD bus tour to Fraser Island for incredible natural beauty and wildlife on the world’s largest sand island.