Tasmania is to Australia what Vancouver Island is to Canada—a rugged, picturesque island covered with temperate rainforests and populated by hardy locals and a number of fickle, hard-to-access slabs. The difference? Shipstern’s Bluff, one of the heaviest waves in the world, where Australian hell-men continue to redefine what is survivable. Shippies perfectly symbolizes Tasmania as a whole—heavy yet beautiful way, cold yet alluring, and probably a touch too gnarly for 99% of the surfers out there. For the other 1%, it’s paradise.
The Surf: Tassie is known for slabs, and but there are also a number of points and beach breaks on the island. However, due to the cold weather, difficulty of access, and a high density of heavy waves, this should be considered an advanced to expert destination.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
- Shipstern’s Bluff: The wave that started the slab obsession back in 2000. Before Shippies, there was only Teahupoo and The Box. Ever since the discovery of Tasmania’s most famous wave, a new death slab seems to pop up every other week. Nevertheless, the stepped-out mutant rights of Shipstern’s still rule the lot.
- Hobart: Tasmania’s capital houses a number of fickle righthand point breaks that go nuts the three or four days per year that they break.
- Lighthouse Beach: A quality beach break setup on the west coast.
- Marawah: With a number of quality setups in the vicinity, this town six hours out of Hobart is a decent base of operations for west coast exploration.
- Bluff Reef: A heavy righthand reef barrel on the west coast.
The Water: Clean but cold, the water in Tasmania is whipped into a frenzy by the Roaring Forties, and with surface temperatures ranging from 51–60 F (11–16 C) is only for the hardiest of cold water fanatics.
The Season: Although Tasmania enjoys short interval wind swell nearly year round, large ground swells come in the southern hemisphere’s winter (March through August), with the wind being a touch milder in the early season.
The Vibe: Tassie locals are pretty gnarly, and rumor has it that they are harboring a number of secret gems. However, the cold and fickle nature of Tasmania’s surf means that there aren’t a ton of wave riders on the island, so you should be able to find some waves to yourself with a bit of searching.
Things To Do: A large portion of Tasmania is made up of nature preserves and national parks, so for the naturalist and outdoorsman there are plenty of non-surf activities to keep you busy through the flat and/or stormy spells.
Where To Stay: A few of the larger cities (such as Hobart) have accommodations, but outside of these areas you’d to well to have a tent or caravan with you, or a local friend with a conveniently located hunting shack.
What To Bring: A shortboard, a bag full of miniguns, and a jet ski set up for tow-ins. A warm wetsuit (5/4/3mm with hood, booties, and gloves is advisable in winter). Warm clothing for cold, story weather. Good hiking boots. A first aid kid and any other survival gear you can think of.
Getting There: Hobart International Airport is the main international gateway into Tasmania, although there are also a number of domestic airports and a ferry between the island (Devonport) and the mainland (Melbourne). Australian visas can be arranged online prior to arrival. Airport code: HBA.