An Australian holiday is simply incomplete without exploring the exhilarating surf beaches. Spread over 244 kilometers between Torquay and Warnambool, the Great Ocean Road is a picturesque coastal stretch and a paradise for surfers. It’s a wonderful feeling to lying on the beach chairs gazing at the waves, sipping a cool mojito. You can indulge in swimming, surfing or explore the sandunes.
Best time of the year for surfing at the beaches along the great Ocean Road is during autumn months of March to May and winter months of June to August. The most popular time though is during the school holiday season in summer from mid-December to mid-January.
Here is a list of the best surf beaches on this stretch:
Bells Beach, Torquay
Bells Beach which is 100 km to south-west of Melbourne is the most popular surf destination and the venue of the Australia’s oldest and most professional surf competition, the Rip Curl Pro. The beach is an exposed reef and point break with excellent right-hand breaks. Nearby surf breaks include Winkipop, Rincon, Southside and Centreside.
The famous Rip Curl Pro Surfing Competition that is held here over the Easter weekend is a must-visit for avid surfing enthusiasts. It is truly an exciting experience to watch the world’s best surfers battle it out as you’re rooting for your favourite to come out as the winner.
Besides, being a popular surfing destination Bells beach is also loved for its scenic landscape. From the cliff you can witness many vantage points that make for an unforgettable sightseeing experience and beautiful pictures.
Johanna Beach, Great Ocean Road
Located about 35 kilometers to the west of Apollo Bay, Johanna Beach is considered to be a surfing paradise due to the large swells. It offers perfect settings for rapid jump in size. It has left and right breaks on the steeply sloping ocean floor as well as Castle Cove and also a rich variety of reefs. It is often used as a backup venue for Rip Curl if the conditions at Pro Bell Beach are adverse.
Other than surfing, you can enjoy fishing here, particularly for salmon. It is not a very safe place to go swimming. You can get to Johanna Beach by car by taking the loop road off Great Ocean Road.
Warrnambool boasts of a range of beach breaks at Japs, The Flume, Levy’s Beach and Port Fairy. Lady Bay is the main destination for swimming, surfing and sailing due to excellent conditions and its proximity to the city center. Unlike most beaches, where conditions are more conducive for only professional surfing, this is a safe haven for surfers with less experience as well. The beach-break waves here flows in both directions and the waves don’t get very big or powerful. Lifesavers patrol in summer.
Black Nose Point, Portland
Black Nose Point is a 20-meter-high basalt headland that is part of the 400 meter east facing beach. The fairly exposed point break has consistent surf and clean groundswells. The beach breaks here are usually low and can be surfed at low tide. But it is the long right hand breaks that forms over the reef which makes it very popular. It has a rocky landscape which makes it a definite no-no for swimmers to explore but great for experienced surfers. Currently this area is not under patrolling.
Easter Reef, Great Ocean Road
Easter Reef that is located along the Great Ocean Road is another popular destination exclusively for experienced surfers. The waves here can get pretty rough and massive. From the shore you may find these easily to manage but the true test is when you’re in the middle of it. That’s precisely why amateur surfers are barred here but riding these waves gives an exhilarating high for the pros.
Gibson Steps, Great Ocean Road
Gibson Steps located near the 12 Apostles limestone stacks off the shore of Port Campbell National Park is another popular attraction of the Great Ocean Road. It is a picturesque location making the surfing experience all the more memorable. As you ride on the A-frame waves, the view of the beautiful cliffs around will leave you mesmerised. This is another beach best suited for professionals due to the conditions and absence of lifeguards patrolling the area.
Apollo Bay, Cape Otway
If you upset over the lack of beaches for less-experienced surfers, Apollo Bay comes to your rescue. It is ideal for surfing irrespective of the experience levels. It has a point break with fairly consistent surf. If you are beginner, choose the safer havens at Apollo Bay where you can avoid stormy conditions and unruly waves.
Summer being the time when the beaches attract a lot of crowd, most of them are patrolled. If you are beginner at surfing or a pro you need to know the local breaks, rips, reefs, tides and currents well. Make sure you ask the lifesaver to guide you. Your great ocean road tour guide will point out th elifeguards on duty.