Perth’s beaches are undoubtedly some of the most spectacular ones you will find anywhere around the world. It’s not often however, that Perth is known as a ‘go to’ surfing destination. As a Perth surfer born and bred, I’m willing to share a few tips on where to find surf in Perth.
With its expansive coastline and relatively small CBD, Perth has plenty of great surfing beaches, it’s just a matter of knowing where and when to look. Too often it’s the case that you wake up to your alarm at sparrows fart, roll over to check the live surf report on your phone, realise the surf is on, drive to your local favourite spot only to find it’s flat, wrong wind direction, too small, too big….. the list goes on.
Chances are that the spot you always check may not be the best for the specific conditions that day. When your ‘go to’ is not working, there are plenty of other spots nearby.
Things you must consider:
This is an extremely important consideration, especially here in Perth. Why you ask? Well the answer lies 20 km off the coast of Perth in a small island known for its odd looking rat like marsupials (quokkas). Yes you got it, Rottnest Island.
Rottnest Island (and a shallow reef system surrounding it) acts as a barrier for the predominant swell that reaches Perth’s shoreline. Perth’s swell has travelled great distances across the Indian Ocean, created by huge storm systems hundreds of kilometres away. It is these storm cells that create the swell that arrives on Perth’s beaches. The swell travels from a south westerly direction and before it reaches Perth’s coastline, the cheeky little Quokka’s on Rottnest Island cop the full force of the swell. So the 3 metre swell that the local news team promised ends up being only half the size.
It is generally the beaches located between Fremantle and City Beach that have smaller surf due to the Rottnest Island effect. Beaches north of City Beach such as Brighton Beach, Scarborough, Trigg and the reef breaks beyond actually receive far more swell than their southern counterparts. This is because less of the swell that travels from the south west is blocked by the Island. You can see this from the picture below.
One thing I would suggest you do before you head out for your surf is to check the swell direction. Popular websites such as seabreeze.com.au have this information available. As you can see from the image above, if a westerly swell is arriving, more of the swell will reach our coastline = larger surf.
Perth has a somewhat predictable weather pattern. Summer equals hot days, easterly winds until 12pm and a howling south westerly wind thereafter. Winter equals cold days, the odd storm system and plenty of days where there is next to no wind. Easterly winds are the ideal wind for surfing and when they are blowing, all beaches in Perth will have nice clean conditions. But what happens when the south westerly wind is blowing and there is swell? Don’t surf? Wrong.
During the winter if there is a large swell and strong onshore breeze head to Cottesloe Beach or Sandtracks (located in Fremantle). Both of these breaks are slightly protected from the south west wind by breakwalls. Don’t expect lovely clean conditions, but if your itching for a wave then they are often worth a look.
If the swell is large and there are no sandbanks at the beachbreaks (closing out) head down to the reefs on the southern side of Cottesloe. Breaks such as The Cove and Seconds often have nice waves on large swells and easterly winds. If you’re a more capable surfer and want some larger surf at a reef break, try your luck at the reefs north of Trigg beach. Spots such as Mettams Pool and Tom’s are lots of fun.
Further up and Down the Coast: If you’re not having any luck locally, I’d suggest to pack up your gear and head off on a road trip.
- South: Mandurah, Yallingup, Margaret River
- North: Yanchep, Lancelin, Kalbarri and if you’re up for a 13 hour drive Gnarlaoo.