13 Jun Surfing Manly
Let’s Go! Surfing Manly!
Manly Beach gives you the best surfing experience you will find, just about anywhere.
In less than one minute, get your board from our Shop, walk across the road, and you are on the beach surfing!
No surfing location has the range and depth of surf breaks, for Beginners through to Advanced, small to giant waves, right there in front of you that you get at Manly Beach. There’s also a world class aquatic reserve, and plenty of great eateries, cafes, pubs and top class restaurants right next to our Shop. So there’s everything you need to have a great time surfing.
Access to Manly is easy. By car there’s plenty of parking right on the beach. By bus there’s plenty of bus stops to take you right to the surf breaks. From Sydney city there’s the super scenic Manly Ferry ride, with a short stroll down Manly’s iconic corso to our Shop and the surf. So you’ve got plenty of ways to access surfing for your itinerary.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Manly beach stretches for 2 kilometres, south to north. So there’s always a great break to be found to match your experience level, the type of wave you want, or prevailing surf conditions.
In terms of conditions, Manly will give you good waves in just about any and all conditions. There will be a surf break that will give you good waves from 1′ up to as big a swell as is rideable. There’s waves from summer to winter. Best winds are any type of West wind, yet you can get real fun waves in a S wind, and parts of the beach will work in a N-NE wind too. So there’s good fun waves all the time.
A quick summary of Manly’s surf breaks, broken up by your surfing skill level follows, with more detailed information on the breaks, how to reach and ride them, below.
Match Your Skill To Your Waves
You likely already know surfing is a challenging sport. You should never venture into the surf where the waves are beyond your skill level.
At Manly, you must also be aware, in terms of the beach environment there are two pipes that are about head height, that go from the shore a little way into the surf. These pipes are clearly marked so you should avoid them, giving them a lot of space and not surfing near them.
Lifeguards patrol the beach, however check to make sure the area where you choose to surf is patrolled. Some of the Advanced surf locations, mentioned below, are located around the rocks and do not have a lifeguard presence.
For Beginners there’s plenty of great fun surf right out the front of our shop.
A lot of the time the water is shallow enough so you can walk out and be right on your first waves. While the surf conditions can get big and rough, the breaks at the location of our Shop on the beach are most often well-suited for Beginner to Intermediate surfers.
The waves break close to shore so you don’t have to have great paddling skills. The waves are easy to catch. Depending on the tide they have fuller easier takeoffs and aren’t dumping. The wave shoulders are open, so offering you both left and right rides suiting your stance.
The waves are great for Longboards through to wider Fish style Shortboards. Our Shop has a full range of latest tech surfboard designs for hire and purchase. From Softboards that are soft, safe and comfy to get started on, through to the latest high performance models.
For Intermediate surfers, as you move north along the beach the sand banks move father out so the waves stand up and break out the back. Depending on the tide these waves can be slow and easy to fast and barrelling. Breaking out the back the waves offer you long rides, great for perfecting all your surfing moves. There’s a range of banks so depending on the day it is possible to find your own spot with almost no one there.
Depending on conditions, the waves on the beach are suited for Shortboards to High Performance boards. If you’re confident on your Longboard you can also have a fun time too.
At Advanced level you have a range of options. Both ends of the beach feature power breaks with a mix of sand and rock bottoms. These power waves give fast takeoffs with sucky walls, great for your progressive and power moves.
Up to the north end you get sand bottom beach breaks. These are lefts and rights, often peaks, broken up by rips that give you good spots to paddle out.
In the south end of the beach, the headland gives a rock-bottom with three world class waves. Depending on swell size and direction these can work from waist high to at least five times overhead in size. As rocks are involved, and the breaks being frequented by Advanced local surfers, surf here only according to your Advanced skill.
A marine sanctuary, called Cabbage Tree Bay, in the protected bay at the south end of Manly Beach gives you unbelievable snorkelling and diving. With no waves, even when the beach has waves, and still clear water it’s great for paddling around, gazing down on a wide variety of sea life from schools of fish, octopus and sea grass, pods of playing dolphins, to even whales.
Being immersed in the marine sanctuary and all its ocean life is itself a great experience.
Even if there’s no surf, your fun doesn’t stop. Paddleboarding along the beach is amazing with crystal water and golden sand. If you’re a SUP rider the same information here on the surfing breaks can help you find your right wave and so have a great time too.
Surfing Manly also gives you access to Sydney Harbour. Something no other surf spot can offer. Sydney Harbour gives you another unique set of experiences. The Harbour has incredible picturesque scenery ranging from quaint fishing and pleasure craft, to untouched natural foreshores, to a view of racing yachts and Harbour ferry vessels.
The Harbour is great to take one of our Stand Up Paddleboards for a cruise.
Surfing Manly The Complete Experience
Coming to Manly you get access to sun, surf, the full beach lifestyle and ocean experience. You don’t need to bring anything as our Hire Shop provides your surfboard, wetsuit along with paddle boards, goggles, snorkels, flippers as needed. If your visit is entirely unexpected we’ve also got swimsuits and boardshorts, towels, suncream, sunglasses and hats for purchase so you can enjoy your beach time to the max.
Beginner Surfers More Detail
If you’ve never surfed or are in the early stages of learning, coming to our Shop and surfing Manly is your ideal way to start.
Our shop is across the road from the beach. So if you’re not used to carrying a surfboard or getting around in a wetsuit, you’re only steps till you’re on the sand and in the water. This makes for a great no hassle experience from the start.
Surf Spots Volley Ball Courts & South Steyne
The surf breaks in front of our shop are called Volley Ball Courts on the north side, and South Steyne on the south side. These are beach sand bottom breaks. The waves here are generally small in size, though they can get larger depending on conditions, so when you’re planning on coming down you can check surf conditions with our Shop as needed.
At these spots the waves tend to break closer to shore. At times you can walk out to the waves so you don’t have to have great paddling skill. You can be a complete Beginner. Walking out you can give yourself a push on the wave, stand up, and be riding.
The waves at these breaks have great shape. So you get long rides. As a Beginner this means once you are up on your feet you can trying moving around a little, so getting your balance and footing. The waves at these breaks facilitate your practice, turning your board, and getting all those basics down.
Swap Your Board
For your first experience our Shop offers Softboards. These are surfboards with a soft top so saving you from bumps. They’re also comfy to lie on for your first paddling experience.
The Softboards come in all lengths, however as a Beginner you want to be going for one of our longer boards. A longer board will give you better paddling making it easier to catch waves. Once on your wave the longer board is very stable. So getting and staying on your feet is super easy. You’ll be up and riding in no time. Trimming across the wave.
However once you’ve mastered a long board you will want to start dropping down in size, smaller boards being faster and easier to turn and more fun. Our range of Beginner boards is comprehensive so you can swap your board to a smaller, lighter, faster model, when you want. It’s not unusual for Customers to progress their surfing so fast surfing that they change to more performance oriented boards through their surfing day.
Start With A Softboard
You can start out on a Softboard then by the end of the day cruising the waves on a proper fibreglass longboard or more performance oriented Mid Length or Shortboard!
When you need to have a break, get a drink or a bite, you can pull your board up on the sand with food shops and restaurants right next to our Shop. Catch some rays, catch your breath and you’re right back out there in the surf.
As a Beginner you aren’t limited to just the breaks in front of our Shop – they’re just the best place to start. If the swell and wave size is small the whole beach opens up for Beginner surfing. Within a short easy walk on the sand you can find your own spot. Taking on more challenging waves, expanding your skill.
Intermediate Surfers More Detail
Immediately out front of our Hire Shop there’s easy waves as described above. These are great for an Intermediate surfer to warm up on, so helping find your surf-legs.
From our Shop you can see the whole beach. So you can check what the waves are like along the whole stretch and pick your spot. Bigger, smaller, faster, slower. All the breaks are a walk along the sand, except for those at the south headland were you take the walk path.
Surf Spot the Volley Ball Courts
The north side of Volley Ball Courts break tends to have a rip. This gives you easy access to get out the back without getting waves dumping on you. There are lefts and rights that break into the rip. The lefts tending to be a bit slower and holding up. The rights running faster.
As the tide rises you can get lefts that break outside then reform giving you extra long rides to the sand.
Surf Spot North Steyne
Going north the next few breaks are around North Steyne. There’s often two banks on the south side of the North Steyne Club House, these with lefts and rights. There can be a wave in front of the Club House too and another wave on the north side of the Club House.
North side of the Club House is one of the Pipes. As mentioned above it’s one of the danger spots so avoid it. However on the south side of the Pipe there’s often a rip that can make getting out the back a lot easier.
These banks at North Steyne are great. On lower tide the waves will stand up more and run, so you can do vertical smacking moves. As the tide rises you get fuller faces great for carving.
Trying surfboards from our Shop, on the lower tide you can put a Higher Performance Shortboard through its paces. On the fuller tide Fish and Hybrid boards excel, through to cruising Mid Lengths and Longboards.
Surf Spot Queenscliff
On the north side of the Pipe you are in Queenscliff territory. It’s hard to specifically define, yet the waves at Queenscliff are different from those at North Steyne. They may be a little peakier. Or a little more powerful. On the higher tide the inside tends to fill up with more water. This gives you great variety and another style of shorey and reform wave to try.
The right from the Pipe often will break out farther so if you’re willing to wait you can get bomb sets. A rip runs next to the right giving easy access to getting out the back. The left into the rip normally has a great first section then can get very shifting especially on the higher tide. Your ride will still keep going but require more skill.
North side of the Rip
The banks north side of the rip tend to break out farther. These are the last banks before the north headland. At various times you get great lefts, great rights, or great lefts and rights. The bank can shift away from, then closer to the rocks. Sometimes it seems the wave will run into the rocks. However it actually runs toward the shore, so you get long rides.
Right in the corner is another rip and in most cases you can always paddle out here more easily, no matter how big the surf may get.
Surf Spot South Steyne
Going to the other end, the south end of Manly beach is called South Steyne. When the swell rises the south end has good waves. These break farther out, with access via a rip right next to the rocks in the south corner.
There’s a left that breaks into the rip with a short section standing up in front of you. The right has a longer wall and is a fast wave. The takeoff can be straight on the wall. Depending on your skill you can get in turns, or just have a super fast ride.
As it gets bigger the south end can hold up to triple overhead with a good peak breaking out the back.
Surf Spots Bower, Winki, Deadmans
The rock headland that is open to the ocean at the south end of Manly beach is called called Fairy Bower. It is separated from the main beach by a walkway and another small beach called Shelley Beach. The ocean side of Fairy Bower is all rock bottom and has three world class breaks, Bower, Winki and Deadmans.
The way to get out to Bower is to either walk around from the beach via the walkway, or drive up and park at the top car park. To get out into the surf you paddle out from Shelley Beach. It’s a flat water paddle around the outside of the Bower wave to get yourself into the Bower takeoff zone.
The paddle out is quite long so make sure you have the appropriate skill and fitness.
At Bower there are a couple of takeoff spots. Inside closest to the headland are underwater rocks that create boils. This is one area where you take off. Take care as this area is full of rocks underwater. If you take off too close to the headland you will certainly hit rocks, even if you can’t see them.
Going north a few meters there are a more underwater rocks and boils that serve as additional wider takeoff spots where you can catch the wave. Catching the wave here you can get a long ride. Closer in there’s a rock ledge that can come out of the water on low tide called Surge Rock. So if you catch the wave out the back you need to be careful not to hit this rock.
Surge Rock & Different Approaches
Surge Rock is also a takeoff spot. On the higher tide or when the waves are smaller you can take off on top of the rock. On the lower tide you can take off next to it. From here you get fast rides across the inside rocks.
The way the waves run at Bower depends on the swell direction. Normally it is one wave from the outside. So if you catch the wave out on the rock boils you can ride it all the way through. At other times the wave may closeout on one of the outside boils or in front of Surge Rock. So on these days you would sit wide, surfing wide.
It should be noted that the inside section, depending on swell direction, does not break straight. It can wrap around so the wave starts to push and come at you. The inside rocks normally don’t come out of the water but if you come off you can easily hit them so take care.
Holds Swell Size
Bower can work from say 2′ in size, all the way up to holding a massive swell. Due to the rocks and underwater boils each wave will offer its own unique challenge. On small days you can ride a Longboard, Fish, Hybrid or High Performance Shortboard. On big days you’ll need a StepUp or Gun.
Be sure of your skill going out to Bower. When the waves start to get big it is one of the few places that will hold the swell so is frequented by Advanced-level local surfers. You do not want to be falling off a wave, being in these surfer’s way, and then being bounced across the inside rocks.
When you finish your surf the only way in from Bower is to paddle back around to Shelley Beach, or across the marine reserve to Cabbage Tree Bay.
Surf Spots Winki and Deadmans
The breaks Winki and Deadmans are not suitable for Intermediate surfers. These are located on the ocean side of the headland. Advanced surfers do jump off the rocks to get into the surf, yet it is dangerous trying to walk down the rocks and dangerous getting into the surf from the rocks.
Winki only tends to break when the swell is head high or bigger. The wave stands up with an over-vertical takeoff on a rock slab. At times this slab can be very shallow and not making the wave can result in hitting the bottom, a broken board and injury. In front of the break is a jumble of rocks with sea urchins that can deliver more injury.
Deadmans only tends to break when the swell is big, at least head high to double overhead. It is more challenging than Winki as the waves ledges. This means that once you get into the wave and are surfing along, your wave can suddenly turn into two or three or more waves with vertical ledges inbetween. You have to surf over these ledges and this requires a high degree of skill and at times luck.
Sea urchins and a rocks directly in front of you can deliver broken boards and injury.
For both Winki and Deadmans the only way to exit the surf with safety is to paddle all the way around the Bower and into Shelley Beach.
Advanced Surfers More Info
Seeing we are discussing the south end, let’s cover this area first. All the information provided above for Intermediate surfers is applicable to Advanced surfers, along with a bit more detail below.
Surf Spot Bower
Bower is a great wave. When it is breaking it will almost always run through, so you get long rides. The rock bottom makes different waves behave differently. Some sections may be full, others over vertical, others barrelling. So you can put your full range of moves to work.
As the waves get bigger you ride a StepUp through to big wave Gun. The bigger it gets the more water starts moving. So the takeoff becomes more and more challenging requiring a big paddle in. Big waves at the Bower is where you can ride your big Gun.
Surf Spot Winki
Winki is a less workable wave than the Bower. It’s a steep takeoff with a mostly barrelling section. Rides can be short or long. Short rides are an intense barrel from Winki that stops before you get to Bower. On certain swell directions you can get a Winki wave that will open up and link to Bower taking you all the way through both breaks.
As it gets bigger Winki gets a bit easier on takeoff, however the consequences of not making a bigger takeoff become more severe. A broken board or worse more likely with moving water pushing you up onto the rocks.
Your normal board with good fast entry is good for head high Winki. As it gets bigger you need a StepUp to give you more paddle for better entry. However a longer board like a Gun can be too long to fit in the sucky takeoff.
Surf Spot Deadmans
Depending on the swell direction Deadmans offers two main types of rides.
At its best in good conditions, it is a clean wave that lines up running along the front of the rocks giving you get great rides. The rides can be across the Deadmans’ sections, through Winki, and through Bower. This is an incredibly long ride. The wave is workable and offers barrels and carving sections. These days are rare.
On clean days there can also be good waves that tend to break toward the rocks. So you get a great takeoff and one or two sections where you can get a barrel and do carving turns. As these waves break in towards the rocks you have to get off the wave before you hit the rocks.
Most times the conditions are not this good, the waves breaking in various challenging forms with surges, boils and backwashes. As mentioned above the wave can often have multiple ledges. You can take off with a relatively easy entry, think that you’re all good, then suddenly find there’s another wave forming or chandaliering right there over you, or under you. So you have to take another drop or be able to bounce over or through the sections.
There’s also sections that look like they’ll hold up, offering a barrel, but then just collapse. If you’re on a three times overhead wave this can be challenging.
In these conditions Deadmans is all about just making the ride.
Surf Spot Queenscliff Point
Another high performance wave is right in the north end at Queenscliff on the point, or just off from it. There are rocks there underwater and also a formation of sand, so the wave can break just a little off the rocks. This is a super sucky takeoff with a great left running through. You have to read the wave as you can takeoff too casually and the wave continue to suck and pitch you.
The takeoff is typically just a little farther out than where the right breaks into the rocks. So when you get the left you have to quickly check what that right section is doing, and race across it if needed. The ride can take you from the corner, across the right, across the left, all the way to the rip.
Surf Spot Queenscliff Bommie
The other Advanced wave at Queenscliff is the Queenscliff Bommie. This breaks way out the back and is a long paddle out. The wave breaks in the open ocean on underwater rocks. It can break as a perfect peak with lefts and rights, or depending on the swell it can break more left and more right.
This wave can be especially challenging in several circumstances. As there’s a lot of water moving about, you can start paddling to catch the wave on the peak and it will continue to rise behind you breaking top to bottom catching you. It is very heavy.
The other situation is that you can think you are in a safe spot sitting waiting for a wave and a rogue wave can come out of nowhere and mow you down.
The ride here is all about making the takeoff and after the takeoff the wave flattens out in deep water.
Surf Spots Queenscliff to North Steyne
Along the beach the banks from Queenscliff to North Steyne will tend to give you the best high performance rides on the lower tide. Use the rips to get out. Queenscliff is a little peakier with fast shoulders. North Steyne is straighter with fast walls.
Advanced Surfer Equipment
Surfing big waves having the right equipment is essential. The right board choice is the first place to start. Make sure you use your StepUp and Gun as the waves get bigger. An extra thick leash, with double leash strings, and a quick release is something to consider for big Bower, Winki and Deadmans. A buoyancy vest and helmet are also used.
Surfing Manly The Full Range of Surf
Manly gives you a full range of great surf. The waves at Manly have developed several World Champion surfers including local Barton Lynch and 7 Times Womens Champion Layne Beachley.
Starting your surfing journey at Manly, and continuing your Intermediate and Advanced progression, you’ll have the waves to take you as far as you want to go, having lots of great fun along the way!