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Shakas! 6 Top Spots Where You Can Learn To Surf

By Cayleh Ferguson
12th Feb 2018

Living on the iconic Gold Coast, it’s kinda expected that you not only know how to surf, but to surf really really well. And if you don’t (*cough*), then you’re probably not from here…

The Quiksilver Pro rolls into town again this February and brings with it the world’s best surfers; with Kelly Slater getting shacked at Kirra, John John throwing airs behind the rock at Snapper, and Steph Gilmore gracefully weaving down the line at Greenmount.

With that in mind, and summer on our doorstep, we think it’s about time you got acquainted with all things surf. We’re helping you out with the most beginner-friendly spots on the Coast—now get off the couch, and get out there!


Sandwiched between two of the world’s most well known and popular breaks of Snapper and Kirra, is Greenmount; the place to be if you’re finding your feet in the surf. Offering gentle, mellow and long rides, it’s the perfect spot to practice your pop-up. The waves curl around the headland and break on a sandbank, allowing you to get the hang of riding the “green” face of the wave. Even if you don’t manage to catch anything, the water is so damn clear, it’s nice just be out there appreciating the paradise we live in. On bigger days, be weary of the old salty sea dogs who will hang 10 right in front of you on boards that you certainly don’t want anywhere near your face.

Currumbin Alley

The Alley is probably the safest, easiest, and most learner-friendly location on the Gold Coast, so grab ya foamy and get frolicking. The best licensed surf school at Currumbin is Surfing Services Australia, run by Mark Richardson and his wife Bianca who, might we add, just happens to be Joel Parkinson’s sister (surfing no doubt runs in the family!). You can opt for a beginner’s private lesson, a group lesson, or even a ladies-only lesson. Opt for the latter if the thought of nose-diving in front of cute surfer boys is your worst nightmare.

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Point turns into an amphitheater when the waves get good and is a world-class point break for good reason; offering long rides, deep barrels, and the ability to hold a large swell. However, don’t be intimidated as there is a little area in front of the Burleigh Pavilion affectionately called “Kid’s Corner” where it’s best to get your beginner on. If you don’t fancy a lesson or feel as though you have the basics down pat, then just grab a mini mal from the Board Shed on the corner of Goodwin Terrace and the highway; that way you won’t have to carry it for miles. Don’t be put off by all the people wining and dining at Rick Shores either, because you’re the one getting out there and giving it a go and will soon be trimming down the line in no time.

Rainbow Bay

The little sister of Snapper, Rainbow Bay is as pretty as it is a perfect learn-to-surf destination. The wave here ends up being the dregs of the hollow and fast lines that roll through Snapper, which on a good day can produce some of the longest right-hand rides in the world. Nancy Emerson started coaching surfing in Hawaii in the 70s and since 1998 has been living on and off on the Gold Coast, making herself available for personal coaching and week-long clinics. If you just need a spruce up on your form and style, or the tools and techniques to help hone your skills if you are a more experienced surfer, then Nancy is the water woman you need in your life, stat.

The Spit

The northern end is also part of Gold Coast’s glory when it comes to waves, and none more so than The Spit. The jetty and the rock wall collect a helluva lot of sand that results in perfect learn-to-surf waves that run all the way to shore. Even on the smallest of days, The Spit gets decent sized waves ‘cause it is so exposed to swell from all directions. A two-hour lesson with Get Wet Surf School is enough to change your life and get you that “surf stoke” feeling that has so many Aussies under its spell. It’s time to say goodbye to sleep-ins every weekend and get your surf squad on speed dial.


This is a spot regularly overlooked by surfers, so if crowds put you off then the stretch of Tugun and Bilinga might just be your best bet. On a west or southwest wind, you could be lucky and find nice clean smaller waves that you can improve your board and paddling skills on, without the fear of running anyone over (or being roadkill yourself, for that matter). There’s also no chance of being embarrassed by your foamie (AKA soft-top surfboard), bright rashvest, and awkward duck-dives, as there’s hardly ever anyone around! The early bird definitely gets the worm when it comes to beach breaks, so get out there before it becomes wind affected and you’ll have a blast. Promise.

The thought of waves and the open ocean scare the be-jeepers out of you? Maybe stand-up paddleboarding will be more your jam. Here are the Gold Coast’s best spots to get wet on a SUP.

Image credit: Brooke Darling for The Urban List

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