Trial Bay

Trial Bay - South West Rocks

New South Wales, Mid North Coast

During massive swells, when all other surf spots are out of control, this little gem situated on the north eastern tip of Trial Bay, beside the historic gaol, can be super fun with long rights that peel down the sandbar into the bay.

This is one of the most sheltered surf spots on the coast and requires a monster south swell or a solid north to east swell and low tide for waves to break. On most days, when the surf is really small here, it is also a beautiful place for a safe swim or for introducing little kids to tiny waves at low tide.

Wave Type
Long and well shaped rights that break on a defined sandbar for over 100 metres when the right surf conditions combine. The wave is soft and suitable for beginners when small. If the surf is still too big here then it's way too big everywhere else!

Check it out during summer North East wind swells for some summer surfing fun. If the surf is flat here, the beaches in the town of South West Rocks can be fun and there are a couple of isolated beaches on the southern side of the cape that pick up more swell, but they can be dangerous for inexperienced surfers due to higher wave energy, uneven sandbars and strong currents.

Good Wind Direction
Best on South West to East winds.

Good Swell Direction For Fun Beginner Waves
Moderate North to Big East to Massive South swells.

Rocks, rip currents and marine life.

Have fun surfing South West Rocks by practising surfing etiquette and surf safety.

There is plenty of parking at the tip of the bay around the old Trial Bay Gaol - day fees apply.

Lifeguard Patrolled
This spot is not patrolled, but Main Beach and Horseshoe Bay in the town of South West Rocks are patrolled from September to Easter on weekends - always swim between the red and yellow flags.

Beginners & kids are best to surf at beaches when Lifeguards are on patrol or with a friend who has decades of surfing experience.

Located next to the old historic Gaol.

Closest Shops
Head to South West Rocks, home to several cafes, take away shops, supermarket and accommodation. You can camp at Trial Bay too - fees apply.

Photos of Trial Bay

Trial Bay

Trial Bay
Photo: Kelly Ratcliffe


Trial Bay sandbar

The picturesque south eastern tip of Trial Bay is a great spot for a swim and for taking small kids surfing in the gentle waves that roll to shore on lower tides.
Photo: Kelly Ratcliffe


Trial Bay mid tide lines

Trial Bay mid tide mini lines on a moderate sized south east swell day when bigger waves will be breaking on the beaches to the north and south of here.
Photo: Kelly Ratcliffe


Trial Bay mini whitewater wave

Many come to this spot to visit the Trial Bay Gaol that originally housed convicts sent here to build a breakwall to provide a safe harbour for 19th century shipping. Thankfully for surfers today, the proposed 1500m swell blocking breakwall was never completed.
Photo: Kelly Ratcliffe


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