The Ultimate Guide to Surfing Kalbarri

by Razz Simpson

Surfing Kalbarri takes you far up the shoreline of Western Australia to a really remote set of point breaks that lay claim to being some of the best lefts in the country.

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!

Surfing Kalbarri at a glance

The good

  • Some of the best left handers in Australia
  • Good surf for much of the year
  • Rarely too busy

The bad

  • It’s so far away from pretty much anywhere!
  • Sharks
  • Rips

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

What’s in this guide to surfing Kalbarri?

An introduction to surfing Kalbarri

Surfing Kalbarri

Call it The Barri; the land of the Aussie left. Yep, this town 570 clicks north of Perth is arguably the top spot for goofies in Western Australia. The swell rolls in on a roughly S-SW angle, powered by continuous winter (and summer, to be frank) storms in the Southern Ocean. The WA coast is angled to meet it perfectly, with a particularly fantastic stretch of headlands that bends inland to create some seriously epic points when firing.

The Barri is remote stuff. You need to drive like six hours to get here from Perth. The good news is that trip will take you through some of the most untouched – and, sadly, shark-infested – Aussie surf territory going. The town as a healthy if not booming surf scene, with a few local rippers who lead the way.

Where is Kalbarri?

Don’t ask! AKA – far away. Roughly midway up the coast of Western Australia, Kalbarri has to be one of the most isolated surf towns in existence. The nearest state capital and major metropolis is Perth, which is still a whopping 350 miles to the south. Still, though, the left handers here are so well known for their quality that plenty of WA locals are willing to make the drive pretty regularly.

A guide to Kalbarri surf spots

Most of the main surf spots in Kalbarri stretch out to the south of the town itself. They’re almost all left-handers, forming off the WA coast as it begins to bend inwards to the town’s estuary.

Chinaman’s Beach

This inside section of the Kalbarri lagoon rarely gets a wave and the currents are usually far too heavy to even consider paddling out. But there can be mellow breakers on the spit to the north, though beware of those rips up there too.

Blue Holes

A fickle reef break will sometimes pop up at the Blue Holes Beach just south of town. It’s right in front of the main car park there and is often totally deserted. Watch the main peak, which is crumbly and shapeless until it walls up only 20m or so from the shore. That’s where the left shoulder will form. We’d recommend a slightly longer board with extra volume for this one.

Jakes Point (Jacques Point)

Jakes is the spot that really puts the Barri on the map. A true corker of a left, it’s sort of like Uluwatu meets the lippy points of Luz in the Algarve. It’s a mix of rippable shoulder and sucky peak, so the challenge is pretty unique. It breaks right off the rocks at the headland of the same name and can handle some hefty swell – like up to 5m or something.

Red Bluff

Not to be confused with the remoter Red Bluff deeper into the WA deserts to the north (often said to be the longest left in Australia), this point break offers a decent left of its own that works best when there’s more westerly direction in the compass. The take-off zone is against the cliffs to the south, from where you go straight inside. Red Bluff Beach also happens to be cracking for whale watching at the right time of year.

Where to stay when surfing in Kalbarri

Don’t expect Kalbarri to have an overload of hotels, this town is a pretty small speck on the map and really only draws folk on a proper WA odyssey to see the wales and the waves further north in the state. Still, here are some of the best-rated hotels on offer…

Kalbarri Edge Resort


Just five minutes off the side of the Murchison River and boasting its own solar-heated pool, this top-rated hotel is one of the best all-round options in Kalbarri. There’s a nice continental buffet for the morning to help you refuel after that dawnie on Jakes Point too.

Pelican’s Nest ($-$$)

Pelican’s Nest is all about simple, comfy, but no-frills apartments for surfers and backpackers. There are one- and two-bedroom units on offer, each with their own clean kitchenette and free WiFi. Some also have lounge areas. It’s a perfect choice for those on a budget WA surf trip.

Kalbarri Palm Resort

This tranquil hotel is one of the top stays in the city. It’s close to the beaches where the coast meets the Murchison River and has an on-site pool. There are both couples and family rooms on offer.

When to surf in Kalbarri

The top time to hit Kalbarri for surfing is the Aussie winter. The swells are stronger and there are way less-powerful winds running onshore between June and August. We also love the autumn and the spring because they bring pretty consistent SW swells that are perfect for the point breaks up and down the shoreline. That said, this part of WA is a bit of a swell magnet, so you can expect to find pretty decent waves even in the middle of the summer season. A 3/2 wetty and some boots are a good idea for the colder months here because it’s tough treading on the rock shelves to get into Jakes Point and the other breaks. The water and wind combo can also bring a little chill.

Be sure to check out our gear guides:

Surf shops in Kalbarri

The thing about Kalbarri is that most surfers tend to visit from either Perth or neighboring WA towns. There is a small and welcoming surf crew here, though, and they make do with just two main shops for all their gear needs…

Kalbarri Surf Shop

The Kalbarri Surf Shop sits smack dab in the middle of the town, just off the main Grey Street on the rivermouth part of Kalbarri. It’s small but very well-acclaimed, offering friendly service and good prices for branded surf gear. There’s convenient parking right outside too.

Kalbarri Jetty Surf

Kalbarri Jetty Surf is just north of the downtown on the way up the river. That’s a little further away from the main breaks than Kalbarri Surf Shop, but it’s worth the ride because this one has a great second-hand board rack, loads of surf-skate stuff, and a decent array of branded surf fashion.

Where to eat and drink in Kalbarri?

Here are just a few of the top spots to drop in for a coffee, a cake, or a post-surf beer in Kalbarri…

Bean Drifting

A relatively recent arrival on the rocks just behind Jakes Point, Bean Drifting is now the go-to coffee spot for those on a Kalbarri surf check. They do fantastic brews and teas, along with a range of milkshakes, cookies, sweet cakes, and more. All served with a smile.

Finlay’s Kalbarri

A loveable gastrobar with a menu of hearty Aussie dishes and Mediterranean pastas, Finlay’s Kalbarri is situated close to the center of the town. It’s a great spot for a local beer, too, as you can chill in the al fresco area with the regulars and warm your feet on the desert fire.

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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Alex MacKenzie November 19, 2021 - 1:47 pm

So Perth is the nearest city at 600kms away? Ah, think you will find that Geraldton, with 40,000 people, is just over an hours drive from Kalbarri.

Joe Francis November 30, 2021 - 6:27 pm

Yo – yep, we just fixed this. Think Razz meant to write nearest major city or state cap. Thanks for the heads up. We actually have a guide to Geraldton too now.


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