The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Perth

by Razz Simpson

Surfing in Perth takes you to the warm-water breaks of the Indian Ocean on one of the best-quality surf shores in Australia.

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Surfing in Perth at a glance

The good

  • (Relatively) close to Margaret River – epic WA breaks!
  • Gorgeous, white-sand beaches
  • Warm waters

The bad

  • That Rottnest Island swell shadow!
  • Sharks

This guide is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in Australia

What’s in this guide to surfing in Perth?

An introduction to surfing in Perth

Surfing in Perth

Uber-long runs of clean sand right on the Indian Ocean – check! One foot in the Southern Ocean to hoover up the same swells that power the likes of Bali and the Mentawais – check! Not too far from the legendary spots of Margaret River – at least not too far in Oz measurements! You might think that surfing in Perth was some of the best on the planet. Sadly, it’s not quite as simple as that.

Look, this isn’t Sydney. Surfing in Perth is good but not quite epic. It’s a bit of a balancing act and a waiting game. The presence of a huge barrier reef system around Rottnest Island to the southwest of the CBD means that this one’s a case of close but no cigar; an almost surf mecca that sits in a bit of a swell shadow.

But Rottnest doesn’t kill the whole thing. Its reefs don’t temper the dominant SW swells that hit the most northerly of the city beaches. You can also escape to the south on surf expeditions to find places that get the full brunt of SW swells and tame them into peeling rights and left points and reefs. Put another way, there are world-class waves to be found, but you’ll probably have to travel for them.

Where is Perth?

Perth is often called the most isolated city on the planet. The warm and friendly locals mean it rarely feels that way, but it’s true: The nearest next-door city is Adelaide, some 2,000km or so across the Outback. Perth itself is on the southwestern end of Western Australia. It faces the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean, which runs westwards all the way to Africa. You can hop on internal flights from major Aussie cities every day, but there are also direct long-hauls to Perth from London and cities in Asia.

A guide to Perth surf spots

We cast the net pretty wide here. The thing is, when it comes to surfing in Perth, you pretty much have to. Remember that darn Rottnest Island swell shadow? So, let’s escape that to both the north and the south of the CBD…

Surf spots in north Perth

Ders

We put Ders down as a consistently overrated spot. It’s about an hour’s drive north of the Perth CBD but rarely offers enough to justify the trip. Add to that the fact that the track in is a ripped-up piece of rubbish and you ain’t going, are ya? It’s a reef-sand mix that has good contact with SW swells and a single A-frame. Always lots of people in the water when it’s working.

The Spot

Just south of Two Rocks outside of Yanchep, an hour’s drive out of Perth CBD, The Spot is one of the quality breaks in this part of WA. It’s a left-hander that works well when there’s more westerly direction in the swell. When it’s, maybe, 1.5m and combines with an offshore, it peels perfectly and will barrel. There are also rights but they tend to be messier. The track in is a bit of an expedition.

Burns

A hard-to-reach reef break that has some of the best consistency north of the city, Burns is technically an A-frame but the left is a killer. Go right and it’s a decent section that gets hollow when it’s feeling generous. Sharks and rocks are the main issues.

The Wall (Hillary’s)

The harbor wall in Hillary’s helps to form up this very fickle wedge break. Extremely unreliable because it needs heavy swells to translate into anything rideable. But it can be fun on bigger days.

Trigg Beach & Trigg Point

We’d say Trigg Beach is the best-quality and most reliable surf break within easy reach of Perth’s CBD. It’s got a point break right at its northern end that’s best left to good intermediates and up. Then the beach turns into a long run of white sand that picks up decent swells (despite some interference from Rottnest and the reefs) to offer lefts and rights that are great for all levels. Always busy. Some localism.

Scarborough

Scarborough Beach brings us firmly into the swell shadow that’s cast by Rottnest Island. That means its fairy unreliable. On the plus side, it offers small swells that are perfect for beginners but the waves do rely on a shifting bunch of sandbanks and you really never know where they’re going to be sitting.

Surf spots in south Perth

Leighton

There must be a tiny little gap in the shelf of reef out at sea here because Leighton does get something from those SW swells. It’s never good, mind you, but there is punchy whitewash for complete beginners who want to pop or skim. All-in-all a nice beach and great for surfing in Perth with the little ones. Pretty much the only southern beach that’s within city limits where you can take the board, too – the rest require a much heftier drive…

Mandurah

One of the first ripper breaks for performance surfers on the south side of Perth is Mandurah, some 50 minutes’ drive from the CBD. Paddle out from a break in the reefs to find glassy swells that work best on meter-high swells from the SW. Good protection from southerly winds as the coast bends to face a touch north here. Mandurah often hosts regional surf comps.

Pyramids Beach

Friendly Pyramids Beach is a holidaymaker’s mecca and another good learner spot on the coastline south of Perth. It gets a touch more swell than its neighboring beginner breaks so can offer something for improver intermediates too. When there’s a big winter storm, there are licky right-hand peaks by the breakwater on the north end of the beach that are super sucky and super fun and can even go hollow.

Margaret River

Margaret River might be a whopping 3 hours south of the CBD but if you want epic, this is the place to go. There’s something like 130 designated beaches in the territory, and some of them are the stuff of legends. Big swell days attract the cream of WA surfers and surfers from all over, offering beefy slabs with left-hand barrel sections and amazing right tubes to rival Hawaii. It’s arguably the best surfing in all of Oz to be frank.

Where to stay when surfing in Perth

Perth has plenty of beachside hotels. We’ve picked out a few that will put you right on the side of the city’s main CBD surf spots…

Ocean View Great Facilities&Views ($$-$$$)

Surf-hotel-top-pick

Sat right on the oceanside of Scarborough and Trigg Beaches – the main two urban surf beaches in Perth – this condo hotel has cracking views and some great extras. There’s an al fresco pool, bug gardens with sunning terraces, and even tennis courts.

Just triggin ($$)

Just triggin is a stylish new apartment rental a few blocks north from Trigg Point. It offers plenty of square meterage for surfers who like to relax and cook for themselves, along with top access to the reef breaks north of the city proper.

La Cabana – Mandurah Beach House ($$)

There’s a whiff of the California surf shack about this charming little bolthole in south Perth. Compact but close to the waves of Mandurah and Falcon, we’d say it’s one of the best choices if you want to escape that pesky swell shelter that comes from Rottnest Island.

When to surf in Perth

If it weren’t for Rottnest Island, Perth would receive almost consistent SW and W swells from the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean. We can only dream. As it is, autumn and winter tend to be better because they supply a little extra power to help the waves get around the continental shelf and into the urban beaches. Water will be cooler in winter and there’s a chance of stronger onshore winds then, but it’s beefier waves all round.

Winter (June-Aug)

Winter is widely considered to be the best time to chase the surf in Perth. Swells pick up and more can work its way into the CBD beaches over Rottnest Island, offering the largest days of the year. Sometimes there can be issues with onshore winds but most of the surfers in the metro area are just happy to see something arriving. Margaret River to the south is positively pumping at this time. Lots of spots there are XXL and pros only.

Spring (September-Nov)

There’s a gradual slackening of the swell from the SW throughout the spring here. It means that days in September are often a lot better than in November. We still like it though, even if the water is chilly and most people have to stick to the 3/2 throughout.

Be sure to check out our gear guides:

Summer (December-Feb)

The hottest season in Perth and loads of sun to go around. It can be flat for days on end in the CBD because there’s not much action in the SW swell channel. It does come, though, and on those days there are lovely glassy ankle burners in Cottlesloe and up. 1mm wetties and rash vests is all ya need when it’s scorching.

Autumn (March-May)

Our favourite time to surf in Perth overall. Autumn sees extra power come into those SW swell directions, helping the reef breaks on the north shore get cooking. Down as far as Margaret River, it’s really going well by the end of the season, and there’s less onshore wind action than in winter. The water also stays warm, so you can usually get by with a neo vest or a 2mm all over.

Surf shops in Perth

Perth actually has more surf shops than you might think for a city that’s so unjustly starved of waves a lot of the time. There again, this is the economic hub of all WA, so you gotta get your sticks somewhere, right?

Harbour Surf

A very cool surf emporium in Freemantle that stocks everything from Rusty to Pistol surf to Vissla suits, Harbour Surf is a reliable go-to for both gear and surf fashion on the way to the southern beaches.

Hollow Surf Shop

Hollow Surf Shop is a slick place just off the Hillary’s Boardwalk where you can get surf-skate, bodyboards, branded surf gear and loads more. This one’s a better stop for those heading to the northern beaches.

Where to eat and drink in Perth

If there’s one thing that Perth does FANTASTICALLY well, it’s surf-side eateries. Yep, the swell might struggle but the menus don’t. Check it…

Canteen Trigg

Anyone surfing up on Trigg Beach can’t miss out on a coffee from Canteen Trigg. It’s towards the point at the north end of the bay and they actually do a lot more than just mochas – think avocado and haloumi toast breakies, sweet cakes, and fish and chips with tartar.

The Lookout Bar Bowling Bites

Transport yourself back to Miami circa 1956 with this uber-retro bowling bar. Good beers, hearty pub grub, and some lanes to roll in while the waves are struggling on Scarborough Beach.


We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This article is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in Australia

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