The Sunshine Coast’s answer to Byron Bay, Torquay, or Santa Cruz, Noosa Heads is a former country town/hippie commune turned thriving tourist and resort hub that also happens to house some of the world’s best righthand point breaks. Set against the picturesque backdrop of Noosa Heads National Park and surrounded by pastoral hills and a succession of small quaint towns, the downtown portion of Noosa is a bustling hive of commerce and holiday making, all tied together by what is possibly the densest per capita population of surfers anywhere on the planet.
The Surf: Although most people only know Noosa for its five world-class points, there are also a number of eastern beaches that host a variety of rippable sand bars and enjoy consistent swell during the “offseason” when the points aren’t breaking. In general, this is a beginner to intermediate surf zone, although there is no shortage of expert noseriders in town at any given time.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
1) First Point: A rolling righthand sand-bottom point breaking where town meets the national park, First Point plays host to the annual Noosa Festival of Surfing.
2) Nationals: A fast, hollow righthand point breaking in front of a garden of rocks, this wave can connect through Little Cove and into First Point when the swell is large.
3) Tea Tree: Widely considered the crown jewel of the Noosa points, Tea Tree is arguably the best noseriding righthander in the world.
4) A-Bay: Tucked into the northern corner of the national park, Alexandria Bay is a beautiful isolated beach with shapely sand bars and relatively few surfers. But beware—the isolation also tends to attract nudists, most of whom are old, unfit men that seem to get off on strutting their “stuff” in front of unsuspecting surfers.
5) Sunshine Beach: The first of a number of beach breaks to the east, Sunshine has a number of rippable peaks and a thumping shorepound.
The Water: Ranging from 70–81 F (21–27 C), the water in the Noosa area is warm and clean—just another reason why everyone wants to surf there.
The Season: The points fire during cyclone season (December through April), while the eastern beaches take E and S swells in winter (May through September). That having been said, it is rare for the area to ever go completely flat.
The Vibe: The points are extremely crowded, and the vibe can be a bit tense at times, but for the most part everyone in the water is stoked. The beach breaks, on the other hand, are never inordinately busy, and you are likely to have a peak to yourself. In general, the vibe is very positive in Noosa, where every day seems to be family beach day.
Things To Do: Hike the national park. Visit the numerous restaurants and cafes. Shop. Lounge on the beach. People watch. Take a day trip to Mooloolaba and eat at Thai Breaker for the best Thai food you are likely to find outside of Southeast Asia.
Where To Stay: Noosa and Sunshine Beach both have thriving backpacker scenes, with a number of hostel options. There are also numerous high-end resorts for those travelers that can afford them.
What To Bring: First and foremost, a log—this is noseriding heaven. Other options might include retro fish, single fins, standard shortboards, alaias, and practically any other form of water craft you can think up. A wetsuit top will come in handy in winter, and you’ll need to bring a lot of cash, as Noosa isn’t cheap.
Getting There: The Sunshine Coast airport is closest, but Brisbane International may be cheaper and more convenient. Depending on where you fly in, you are looking at between 45–90 minutes driving to get to Noosa. Australian tourist visas are available online and must be arranged before arrival. Airport codes: BNE (Brisbane) and MCY (Sunshine Coast).