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SHQ Surf Guide: Beginner to Intermediate

Victoria is a great place for surfing: we have consistent swell throughout the year,  a huge number of breaks to choose from with something for every level, and it is relatively uncrowded.

How to prepare yourself for surf on the coast:

To get the most out of your surf follow this check list to take you to the best surf spot on the day:

Swell:

In Victoria we can receive a large variety of swell size. Seasons play a large role in what is happening at any given time. Predominantly autumn and winter delivers the most consistent groundswells and offshore winds. In the summer the swell is generally smaller and more inconsistent, favouring the open beaches. Summer can also see seabreeze patterns that are great for kiting and windsurfing but not great for surfing.

Swell forecasting and reports:

http://www.swellnet.com/reports/australia/victoria

Wind/ Weather:

The wind is what makes or breaks perfect surf, offshore winds are almost always the most desirable direction and once winds start to exceed 10 knots the waves can begin to become affected.

To find the wind/weather: http://www.bom.gov.au/vic/forecasts/melbourne.shtml

To find Current Observations: http://www.seabreeze.com.au/graphs/vic.asp

Tides:

You can maximise your surfing experience by understanding how each break works on different tides. Certain breaks will work better on high or low tides so pay attention to this.

To find the tides: http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/tides/MAPS/vic.shtml

The right equipment:

The weather in Victoria changes all the time so it is important to be comfortable with your equipment – the right wetsuit and board will allow you to make the most of the conditions.

Suitable Wetsuit:

Most people in Melbourne have at least two wetsuits, a summer suit and winter suit. In winter a 4/3 (mm thickness) is required and even on colder days in summer they can be ideal. On the warmer summer days a 3/2 is good – though some will opt for 2mm spring suit (short sleeves) or similar. It is not often that the water and weather is warm enough to be comfortable in board shorts in Victoria.

May-November: 4/3 wetsuit is a must!

Often you can score uncrowded days with great surf during winter - having a warm wetsuit is really important to make the most of these chances!

With wetsuits you do get what you pay for – the premium suits like the Ripcurl Flashbomb and O’Neill Pyrofreak will be warmer, stretchier and more comfortable than a cheapie.

The mid range suits like the O’Neill Epic and Ripcurl Dawn Patrol will still be really warm but at the sacrifice of a bit of stretch – perfect options for those on a budget.

Boards:

Having the right board for your ability and the conditions is crucial. Understanding board design and the impact it has on how your board performs is quite complex but basically a longer board should paddle easier and a thicker board (has more volume) will also paddle well. Width provides stability and will make it easier to stand up.

Rocker is also critical - a board with a flatter rocker will glide across the water rather than push water inefficiently. So basically for the beginner to intermediate surfer you want something with decent length, width, volume and a flattish rocker.

For more detail on board design see http://www.surfscience.com/topics/surfboard-design/

 

Some great beginner to intermediate boards that SHQ recommends are the NSP Funboard & Surf Betty, NSP Fish and the Modern Blackbird. From there the next step is something a bit smaller, like the 7S Superfish which is probably the most popular intermediate to advanced surfboard in Victoria. Keep in mind though that you can get boards like the Superfish in larger sizes which can possibly be ideal for learning, provided you have some of the basics already.

 

There are a lot of factors in choosing the right board – different locations, wave size, ability, height, weight and fitness are all very important. To get the best advice pop down into the shop and chat to our staff about what will work for you.

Spot guide.

Victoria’s coastline is full of great surf breaks for all levels – within a 1.5 hour drive East or West there are heaps of options to choose from.

East of Melbourne:

Location:

Pt Leo

Swell: 4-6ft on open Beaches will be 2-3ft at Pt Leo

Tide: Mid to High – swell is more consistent on incoming.

Wind: Ideal W-NW

 

On larger swell days when the back beach beaches are 4-6ft+, there are great options for beginner to intermediate surfers inside Westernport Bay between Pt Leo and Flinders. Crunchy point at Point Leo is the best option.

The Breaks here can have exposed reef on low tides, so caution is required. On the higher tides this is generally not a problem. Booties are recommended.

 

Location:

Mornington Peninsula - Gunnamatta to Portsea

Swell: Up to 4ft

Tide: Mid to High above 3ft, Low tide can be okay if swell is under 3ft.

Wind: Ideal is N-NE

 

The Mornington Peninsula generally is more suited towards experienced surfers, the back beaches which stretch from Cape Schanck to Portsea is one of the most exposed coast lines in Victoria, holding large waves with dangerous rips. Unless the swell is below 3ft it is not recommended for beginner surfers. On a small summer’s day though it can be perfect.

 

Location:

Philip Island - Cat Bay - Shelly’s

Swell: 5ft+ on the open beaches will be 2ft at Shelly’s

Tide: Swell is more consistent on an incoming tide

Wind: SW-SE ideal because most other spots are onshore at this time

 

Shelly’s is great place to get some waves in when everywhere else is wild and out of control. It is protected inside Western Port and receives much smaller swells. It is also protected from Southerly winds that are onshore nearly everywhere else in Victoria. This spot is perfect for beginners.

 

West of Melbourne:

Location: Jan Juc

Swell: 2-5ft

Tide: All tides

Wind: N-W

 

Jan Juc can offer fun waves for beginner riders and also more experienced surfers. It has a series of sand banks along the beach with plenty of options. Be warned it can get busy in the summer months.

 

Location: Ocean Grove

Swell: 1-5ft

Tide: Mid – High

Wind: NE-NW

 

Ocean Grove is a fun beach break on the west coast, sandy bottom with no rocks. It’s near Barwon Heads, and a good place for catching your first few waves. Just around the corner is 13th Beach which picks up a bit more swell for advanced surfers or can be a good option when Ocean Grove is tiny.

 

Location: Point Impossible

Swell: 3-6ft

Tide: Low

Wind: W-NW

 

Point Impossible or ‘Possos’ is a reef and point break just outside of Torquay. The wave is generally soft and crumbly so suitable for intermediates. When it is good it can be a little crowded with guys on longboards so is probably not 100% suitable for beginners. It will be a little smaller than 13th Beach here. High tide pushes the waves up over the rocks and can make things a bit tricky. Low tide is definitely better


100 Responses

Scott
Scott

November 17, 2021

Really helpful guide, thank you for sharing this. Having the right equipment is really critical when it comes to surfing. And just as essential as your surfboard, surfing fins are also a must. Surf fins are the wheels of the surfboard and helps you achieve the best level of performance from your surfing. Learn more about the importance of surfboard fins here: https://3dfins.com.au/blogs/media-spotlight/surfboard-fins-and-safety

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Chris Buyukkilinc
Chris Buyukkilinc

October 02, 2019

Hi my name is Chris was born in Melbourne and am overseas now when I return to Melbourne please tell me how I can learn to surf ıts prices and what days can you give me all the information involved I usually would love to surf when I learn it in the Rye back beach in the back of BassMeadows Blvd Rye. My cousin usually has a summer house in Bassmeadows Blvd I use to go and watch the surfers now I am wishing to learn my self to surf there. I cannot wait to get back to Melbourne Australia I will be waiting for your reply. I am so happy to message you. Thanking You Chris.

Fred
Fred

May 01, 2019

Hi guys,

Im passing thru Melbourne next week and might have a day free to explore and was thinking of going surfing.

Do you guys rent out boards and wetsuits?

Do you guys do guiding also?

Thanks!
Fred

Brian
Brian

February 10, 2019

Great article for us newbies on where to go when.. thanks very much for this.

Luke Meyers
Luke Meyers

June 15, 2014

This is a great guide and simple reminder on the best places to surf, nice work guys! I surf a 7s super fish,Easy to paddle and catches lots of waves, stoked!

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