The search for good waves may involve a quick check around the next headland, or a long distance surf trip where hours are spent travelling by car, bus, train, ferry or plane to reach your chosen destination. Whilst jumping on an overnight bus or train can save you money on a nights accommodation, travelling by day provides an opportunity to see the amazingly diverse landscapes of Australia. Watching the world pass by as you head to your next destination is a wonderful part of the travel experience.
Below is a summary of the transport options available when travelling and surfing in Australia, or check out the links to some great surf destinations to find out more on how to get to specific surf regions or towns around the nation.
Car & Campervan
For those who have the time, travelling by car or campervan is the best way to explore and find the many hidden coastal treasures of Australia, including some of the most beautiful beaches and surf spots. The freedom of travelling to wherever, whenever you want can't be matched by other modes of transport. You can either purchase a second hand vehicle or hire a car or campervan. Make sure you take out car insurance.
The added benefit of a campervan is of course that you can sleep in your van at designated camping spots, that are often located at amazing beaches - waking up to the sound of surf, surrounded by nature is an awesome experience.
Drive during the day as you'll see more, plus it's much safer than driving at night. Between dusk and dawn is when the nocturnal fauna is often present around roads and visibility is obviously lower.
The main highway (A1) roughly circumnavigates the surf rich eastern, southern and western coastlines and is sealed. Be well prepared if you plan on driving the epic journey across the isolated desert regions of the Nullabor in the south or the north west coast. Back up fuel and tyres, lots of water, a mechanically sound vehicle and appropriate clothing and bedding for hot days and cold nights is a must.
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A great way to combine transport, accommodation, meals, learning to surf at amazing beaches and meeting people is to hop on one of the organised surf tour coaches that set off from the major cities in search of waves and good times.
Surf camps are set up right on the beach, so you can immerse yourself in the Australian beach and surfer lifestyle for as long as you want and also improve your surfing skills in a guided, fun-filled environment.
Bus & Train
Major bus companies cover the coastal surf regions of the nation and travelling by bus is a cheap and a popular way to move around, especially between major cities. Long distances equal long hours though, so bring a good book or your ipod! Plan your journey, as you may need to change buses with different companies to reach your destination. Click on the surf destination locations links below for more info on travelling by bus or train to specific surf regions.
Outside of metro areas, travelling by train is slower and more expensive than buses. That said, the Indian Pacific that crosses the continent from Sydney to Perth via Adelaide offers an awesome journey through some of the most surreal and unique landscapes in the country.
Travelling by air is now a viable way to get around, thanks to competitive prices and the speed and ease of booking, checking in and travelling across large distances. Many domestic airlines operate around regional Australia, with Virgin and Jetstar airlines offering the most extensive range and normally the cheapest flights throughout the nation.
Often, the further in advance you book the cheaper the cost of the flight. The budget airlines will charge you to carry your surfboard(s) and this extra charge can often be more than the cost of your seat, so read the fine print of what you can carry and its cost, then factor this in when comparing prices.
To reach some surf destinations, combining a ferry ride with other means of transport is a fun (and in some cases the only) alternative. Some of the popular ferry rides to beach locations include Fraser and North Stradbroke Islands (Queensland), Palm Beach to Ettalong, Circular Quay to Manly Beach (New South Wales), Stony Point to Phillip Island (Victoria), Kettering to Bruny Island, and of course Melbourne to Devonport (Tasmania). Also popular are the Cape Jervis to Kangaroo Island (South Australia), and Perth to Rottnest Island (Western Australia) ferries.
It would be great if hitching rides from town to town was totally safe, but unfortunately, there is always a risk. Travel responsibly and buy your ticket, your well being is worth it.
Travelling with Surfboards
Make sure you check the cost of travelling with surfboards before buying your ticket on planes, buses and trains as sometimes extra charges do exist. Protect your surfboard in a padded board bag when travelling.
Carry a pair of soft racks, which are straps that you use to tie your boards onto the roof of a car. No fixed roof racks are needed, and the soft racks protect the car from scratches. When not in use these soft racks fold away easily inside your boardbag.
Surf Holiday Destinations
New South Wales