Tasmania is often overlooked as a surfing destination yet it actually does get very good waves. The most pleasant time to surf in Tasmania is late summer/early autumn, when the water is at its warmest. However, the biggest swells and most favourable wind conditions occur in autumn and winter.
On the west coast offshore days can occur in combination with moderate swells. Only the top one third of the west coast is accessible, even then only at certain locations. Marrawah on the north west corner, is renowned for its year round surf. Marrawah's three beaches - Ann Bay, Mawson Bay and Green Point - have hundred-metre-long rides when the swell is westerly and the wind offshore.
The south west is totally wild and remote, there are waves and some classic reefs, but they will probably remained unsurfed for many years yet.
The Northern coast of Tasmania is somewhat protected and lengthy flat spells, especially in summer can occur. The waves here are good, but no big. Exceptions are the beach breaks at the mouth of the Mersey River iand Tam O'Shanter near the mouth of the Tamar River.
The north's best surf, however, isn't on mainland Tasmania but on King Island, halfway to Victoria on the western edge of Bass Strait. Being in the path of the Roaring Forties, its diverse coastline means the surf's always up somewhere. Martha Lavinia Beach, on King Island's east coast, is ranked by Tracks magazine as Australia's best beach break. On the island's west coast, British Admiral beach enjoys an easterly wind and westerly swell, as does Fitzmaurice Bay in the south-west, where at low tide adventurous cows wade into the surf to eat nutritious bull kelp.
Scamander. Photo: Scamander Beach Surf Shop
The east coast is again open to the ocean, the Tasman Sea, it does get good waves especially after winter lows pass into the Tasman Sea. Scamander is perhaps the most well known surfing spot on what Tasmanians call their surf coast. Here there are kilometres of long white beaches where the surf rolls in reliably. The coast from Scamander to Orford has some popular surf beaches. The eastern arm of the entrance to Georges Bay and the mouth of the Scamander River are popular spots in the north east.
Accommodation is mainly in self catering holiday houses with some excellent free camping, caravan/cabin parks, motels, a resort at Ironhouse Point (Falmouth) and large hotel at Scamander. You can surf all year round here, the climate is mild even in winter. Scamander, Seymour, Chain of Lagoons, Four Mile Creek, Falmouth, Scamander and Beaumaris are the major hot spots, but surfing is popular all the way south from St Helens Point to Bicheno.
Hobart itself is located on a large bay, but swells do sometimes work right up into it. Park and Clifton Beaches are the most popular. Clifton Beach is by far the most popular, and only 30min drive from the city centre. The south end is usually a bit softer where a defined right appears on moderate SE-S swells and offers some protection from West winds. Up the beach is a bit pushier and the sandbanks are flanked by deep channels to help deal with the common close-out.
South Arm area has several good surf beaches and SLCA patrolled areas at Clifton Beach. Large west and southerly swells also bring to life Seven Mile Point, a classic point break right near Hobart airport and many other reefs and point breaks from Swansea to Southport. Smaller south swells bring waves on the southerly facing beaches of which there are many.
Moving further south to the Hobart area and big waves are found in the Eaglehawk Neck area. The notorious Shipstern Bluff is situated beyond the Port Arthur historic site on Tasman Peninsula.
Also known as Devil's Point, Shipstern Bluff is generally accepted as being the most challenging surfing location in Australia. Below the bluff, heaving swells hit a reef head-on, causing a huge body of water to arc up seemingly out of nowhere. In recent years, this churning swell has attracted elite surfers from around the world, dominated the surf media and set the bar for extreme surfing in Australia.
What makes it unique is that it is very accessible for spectators, it is just around the corner from Port Arthur. When the waves are on at Shippies anyone who is able to take on a spectacular 2 hour walk (a fabulous walk in itself) can put themselves in the line up. Heaving swells hit a reef head-on, causing a huge body of water to arc up seemingly out of nowhere. In recent years, this churning swell has attracted elite surfers from around the world, dominated the surf media and set the bar for extreme surfing in Australia.
Shipstern Bluff, 'The Stern' or "shippies" has put South East Tasmania firmly on the world surfing map. The wave is considered as one of the worldsad to Shipstern Bluff begins 500 metres past the turnoff to Port Arthur Historic Site, down a gravel road, through a pear orchard, two hours' walk along a trail flanked by scrub, down a cliff and beyond a series of truck-sized boulders, you'll find Australia's biggest waves. This rugged headland on the Tasman Peninsula is generally accepted as being the most challenging surfing location in Australia. Below the bluff, heaviest, and with good reason. What makes it unique is that it is very accessible for spectators, it is just around the corner from Port Arthur. When the waves are on at Shippies anyone who is able to take on a spectacular 2 hour walk (a fabulous walk in itself) can put themselves in the line up. No more than 100 metres from this amazing wave one can watch in awe Tasmania's - and indeed the world's best surfers take on this monster wave.
If you are in Tasmania's south and find Shipsterns Bluff way too daunting and a little hard to get to, there are plenty of other surfing spots in the vicinity. Eaglehawk Neck, the isthmus joining the Forestier and Tasman peninsulas, has exceptional waves when the swell is south-easterly and the wind westerly. Other less challenging favourites in the area are Roaring Beach on the Tasman Peninsula and also near Remarkable Caves, which provides a steep takeoff and a beautiful location.
Another of South East Tassie's gems is Boneyard at Martion Bay. "The Yard" is another worldclass wave and all who have ridden it declare it Australia's best righthander. This waves breaks over a permanent sand bar over 800 metres off Marion Bay beach. Local surfers know when Boneyard is breaking there are many other opportunities for good surf not too far away on the Tasman Peninsula, Eaglehawk Neck and further afield in south east Tasmania.
Bruny Island's Cloudy Bay
Though its western shores are sheltered by the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Bruny Island's east and south coasts bear the brunt of Antarctic swells (and water temperatures), and are obvious places to go looking for the perfect wave. The pick of the island's southern breaks is Cloudy Bay. It's Australia's southernmost surf beach, surf it in a southerly swell and a northerly wind. Bruny Island is accessed via a 15-minute ferry crossing from Kettering, which is 40 minutes' drive south of Hobart.
In the far south, where Tasmania's west and east coasts meet, South Cape Bay is a pristine beach break that gets huge, clean waves on a southerly swell. Located beyond the end of the road and Cockle Creek, surfers must carry their boards along a stunning 7 km walking trail and it pays to bring a few - boards are known to snap here when the surf's up. Lion Rock being the most consistent. This left hander picks up any swell from the southwest and throws up nice walls and tubes from 3' to 10' plus. Cockle Creek is a two-hour drive south-west of Hobart.
The south coast is the location of Eddystone Rock, Australia's latest big-wave surfing hot spot, having first been surfed as recently as 2008 (like Shipstern Bluff, surfers are towed on to the waves here with jet-skis). Its remote location means it is beyond the reach of all but the most dedicated visiting surfer. Surfers were shown the location by local fisherman, who have known about the legend for many years. Not be confused with the similarly named Eddystone Point off the north-east coast of Tasmania, Eddystone is a tower-shaped rock or small island, 30 m high and 27 km from South East Cape. The island was described by Abel Tasman in 1642 as "a tall, obtuse, square tower". Pedra Branca, a 2.5 ha rock or small island, is 2.2 km to the west.
Nettles Bay, Marrawah
Tasmania’s westernmost community and the furthest settlement from Hobart, Marrawah is the most popular surfing spot in Tasmania’s north. Marrawah is accessed from Tasnania's north west region, its closest major towns being Smithton and Stanley. Marrawah's three beaches - Ann Bay, Mawson Bay and Green Point - have hundred-metre-long rides when the swell is westerly and the wind offshore. The record wave in this area was measured at almost 20 metres with wind and surf rolling in uninterrupted for almost 17,000 kilometres.
Marrawah is the venue for the National Wave Sailing Championships; a highly sought after title worth $22,000 and held over 5-days in February that combines wind and wave skills to attract competitors and visitors. The West Coast Surf Classic, an amateur surf carnival that has been going for the past 30 years, follows this event each March long weekend and attracts up to 1000 spectators and competitors.
Ocean Beach, Strahan
With a great selection of nearby ocean, rivers and lakes, Strahan is an ideal location for a wide range of water sports, such as surfing, kiteboarding, wind surfing and kite surfing. Ocean Beach is a popular location for these sporting activities. If you are a novice surfer, Strahan surfing schools offer surfing lessons for all ages and abilities.