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Surfing the Gold Coast

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As locals will tell you, the Gold Coast has some of the best surfing beaches in the world. In terms of consistency this might be true – on any given day there will be good surf somewhere along the coast – with 200m-long sand-bottom point breaks and rideable waves peaking at about 4m in prime conditions.

The coast is known for its barrels, particularly during the summer storm season when the winds shift around to the north; in winter the swell is smaller but more reliable, making it easier to learn to surf. A rule of thumb for finding the best surf is to follow the wind: head to the north end of the coast when the wind blows from the north and the south when it comes from the south. Generally, you’ll find the best swell along the southern beaches, and on South Stradbroke Island. Sea temperatures range between 26 °C in December and 17 °C in June, so a 2–3mm wet suit is adequate. Hard-core surfies come for Christmas and the cyclone season, though spring is usually the busiest time. On the subject of general safety, all beaches as far north as Surfers are patrolled – look for the signs – and while sharks might worry you, more commonplace hostility is likely to come from the local surfies, who form tight-knit cliques with very protective attitudes towards their patches.

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