Every surfer loves a good old fashioned road trip. You’ll find some of the world’s most famous waves – as well as a few local secrets – along the North Coast of NSW. Passionate surfer Blainey Woodham heads out in search of the perfect break.
Duration: 5 days
Surf The Pass in Byron Bay
Visit Yamba’s famous Pacific Hotel
Beach hopping in Coffs Harbour
Discover a locals’ surf spot in Evans Head
Day 1: Byron Bay
Dreaming of a week of waves and good times on the road, it’s hard to think of a better place to begin than Byron Bay.
I don’t know what’s tougher; choosing from dozens of epic accommodation options within walking distance of the Bay’s three good waves or deciding on which wave to surf first.
I spend my first session happily trimming the playful walls of Wategos on the trusted old 9’6” noserider board, before finishing with some little low tide sand pits at The Pass. Little do I know that today would see the best conditions of the road trip and, in hindsight, I wish I’d spent more time in the water instead of trying to pace myself for the journey ahead. Lesson learnt: go hard the whole time because you never know what the weather will bring.
Despite the The Wreck punching out perfect little barrels at first light and my urge to get amongst it, we decide to head to south, with a sneaky stop on the way.
A few locals I know in Evans Head had made a bit of noise about a certain break having ‘great sand’, so obviously we have to check it out. Evans has a massive set of breakwaters, offering unbelievable protection from southerly wind (and swell) so it’s not always big, but quite often perfect.
After checking out the spot from an elevated vantage point, we follow a small track for 15min down to the water. Soon I'm sitting in the lineup with three others, scoring perfect two foot waves wrapping into the secluded mini-bay. Two hours later, spaghetti arms fully activated, it's time to move on towards the day’s final destination.
Yamba is a sleepy little fishing town at heart. It also offers great overnight options and traditional meals at my personal fave the Pacific Hotel, where I down a lamb roast and a few coldies before it's lights out for this weary road tripper.
Good coffee is vital for a modern day road trip and it’s easy to find this morning along Yamba’s main street.
Next there’s a mandatory check of the town’s beach breaks, all of which offer different options in any wind condition. It’s a hard decision, but we soon paddle out at Turners, or Town Beach as it’s known. Picking up the south swell and offering great little peaks, I get two hours of fun under my belt before coffee number two and a short drive to scope out more waves.
Unfortunately, after a few hours of checking out the different breaks, we witness a classic afternoon surf fail blamed on the east wind. But we are easily consoled by another visit to the Pacific Hotel.
We begin this morning with a check of what I consider to be the best wave in Australia.
Located ‘somewhere near Yamba’ the waves are a six out of ten upon arrival, and I was out there in about five seconds. They begin with a ledgey barrel (where a wave hits a reef or rock ledge to form a wide open barrel) into high line section and end in an inside bowl better than any wave pool. Even an intermediate surfer like me could make five turns on most.
After four hours of surfing bliss, it’s time for a coffee and to set off on the scenic drive to Coffs Harbour. The Coffs Coast is another region that offers a huge amount of variety for the travelling surfer. Park Beach is smack bang in the middle of town and today it's pumping: four to six feet of swell, offshore winds and rollingbarrels. When it’s this good, no matter how sore you are, it’s a no brainer!
Within a 20min drive both north and south of Coffs Harbour, there are world-class beach breaks on offer under the right conditions. Be aware; the locals command respect in this region so it’s best not to surf in large groups and definitely best to stick to the unspoken rules of the game.
I cap off a wonderful five days on the road with a few fun waves at a river mouth right-hander just south of Coffs before hitting the road for the long drive home. If asked to score the Byron Bay to Coffs Harbour stretch of coast? It’s got to get an eight out of ten every day of the week!