This learn to surf roadtrip itinerary will see you hit up seven top surf beaches along the Southern Queensland and Northern NSW coast. You can choose your own way of traveling, but for us it’s a mix of budget-conscious and comfortable camping. We will give you our choices of places to stay and things to do and see (for those on a budget), then add in some extras for those with a little more cash to splash about.
So without further ado, here is your ultimate learn to surf roadtrip itinerary (this short 2 week trip makes it perfect for uni holidays or for an annual leave from work also!)
Day 1 – Pack the car, or pick up your campervan and depart Brisbane. Drive north to Agnes Water. You can hire cars and campers close to the airport in Brisbane if you’re flying in. We have also made this roadtrip ‘campervan and car hire-friendly’ by making it start and finish i the same place – that saves you the extra fee that these companie usually charge for returning the car to a different place than where you picked it up! Set up camp at Workmans Beach (one of our favourite campsites in Australia!) and head down to check out the swell at the mainbeach, or just hang about at the private access beach from the campsite. It has a magical view of the sunset. Workmans Beach will cost you $7 per person per night.
There is another campsite in Agnes Water, that is closer to the mainbeach but very crowded and developed, expect to pay around $30 – $40 per night for an unpowered site here though.
Day 2 – Head to Agnes Water surf shop (Reef2Beach) before 10am for your surf lesson– no need to book. The lesson will cost you only $17 and over three hours you will be taught the basics of surfing, how to stand up, how to bail out and how to look cool doing it.
Day 3 – Depending of whether you are pumped or exhausted after the 3 hour lesson yesterday, you can choose to either hire a board from Agnes Water surf shop (Reef2Beach) for $20 per day, or just take a chill day at the beach. There are a lot of great free activities to do at Agnes Water and 1770 if you want to stay out of the water for today too.
Day 4 – Pack up all your shit and drive south to Rainbow Beach. Depending in your arrival time, you can either take today as a rest day, or hire a surfboard and head out to catch some waves as the sun sets on this beautiful and often deserted surf beach.
Rainbow Beach has a few camping options. The cheapest and most picturesque is the Inskip National Park camping however you do need to be somewhat self sufficient here as there is no water and only one toilet from memory. Only one of the campsites is accessible via 2WD vehicles too – so just be aware of what you’re doing (ie. do your research first!). National Park camping will cost you just under $6 per person per night.
If you have a little more money and want to stay closer to town, you can camp at the Rainbow Beach Holiday Village for the rather overpriced rate of $41 per night for an unpowered site (or $35 in low season).
Day 5 – Get out on the waves man! This is what you came here to do! If you’re feeling confident you can hire a board and just hot the beach, otherwise you can book lessons here. This came company also runs Stand Up Paddle Board lessons if you’re after something a little different today.
Day 6 – Now that you’re feeling a little more confident, you’re ready to hit the big time. Get in your car or camper campervan and drive to Noosa baby! Noosa is such a special place, so chilled out that it’s nearly asleep, but with all the conveniences of a big city. We LOVE Noosa and know you will too! Take this first day to just visit the town and get a vibe of the place. Visit the National Park (keep and eye out for dolphins and koalas!), stroll Hastings Street, Noosaville and Noosa Junction. Head over to Sunshine Beach to see where the local surfie kids kick it and make sure you grab yourself a good dinner – you’re going to need it for hitting the waves tomorrow! If you’re up for more adventure than just a walkaround check out this Jetboat ride or Everglades cruise with BBQ.
Looking for an economical place to stay in Noosa is harder than in most chilled out surf towns. This place is the playground for the rich and famous and accomm prices are at a premium. However, you can do it on the cheap if you’re smart. Your best bet is to stay at the Noosa River Holiday Park. It is the closest park to all thee action and that means you can leave your car parked beside your tent the whole time and save money on fuel. The holiday park fees are much more than what we like to pay for camping, however, this is Noosa and the park is well equipped with everything you need to cheapen up your stay. See our review on the Nooosa Holiday Park for more info about pricing and the park.
Day 7 – Hire yourself a board and hit the waves bro. For board hire, check out Go Ride A Wave or Noosa Longboards. Great beaches to try are Sunshine Beach or Tee-tree Bay. Just ask in any shop or tourist park and they should be able to tell you where the best swell is that day.
Day 8 – We’re heading south again today, along the Sunshine Coast and to the Gold Coast. Namely, today is the day you will arrive at the famed Surfers Paradise. Don’t set your hopes too high though, the name is somewhat deceiving. However the place is well worth checking out. Hiring a board here will cost you a MINT, however you can head to nicer beaches only a few minutes south of Surfers Paradise and get a lesson or hire a broad for a much more reasonable rate. Unless you’re REALLY flush with cash, you will want to head away from the Gold Coast to sleep. Camping on the Gold Coast will set you back over $40 per night for an unpowered site. All the camping grounds on the Gold Coast (The GC or Goldie to locals) are run by the came company (which council has contracted to make money for them) and they are an absolute rip off. But.. there is good news! Within an hour’s drive are some sensational national parks and free camping. Check out:
- Lamington National Park camping. Home to the Natural Bridge and a beautiful place to stay and wake up in, Lamington is 45kms from Surfers Paradise and a night will cost you $5.95 per person. You want to look for the signs to Green Mountains camping area – more info here.
- Springbrook National Park. This camping area is linked by a short walking track to the top of Purling Brook Falls, a stunning place to stay the night and only 38kms from Surfers Paradise. A night will cost you $5.95 per person per night.
- James Sharp Memorial Park, Canungra. Sharp Park River Bend Country Bush Camping has five hectares of managed and well maintained camping and recreational grounds set amongst the hills on the Upper Coomera River, which is ideal for swimming. It’s only 33kms from Surfers Paradise and will cost you $6 per adult per night.
Day 9 – If you camped away from the Goldie overnight, then head back in get your local on at Burleigh Heads. This is where the cool kids hang out and where you’re going to hit the waves today. You can hire boards from Burleigh Heads Board Hire.
Day 10 – Today we’re headed to hippie mecca – Byron Bay. Home to so many soulful surfers, cosmopolitan hippies and long waves that you’re sure to fall in love here, either with the place… or someone you pass on the street. Camping here is also expensive, however not AS expensive as on the Gold Coast. We recommend that on your first day in Byron Bay you just chill the fuck out man. That is what this place is all about. Walk the beach and lighthouse trail, enjoy the lookout at the most Easterly point of Australia, grab an ice-cream, a beer or a picnic and just be in the present. There are plenty of free things to do in Byron Bay to keep you entertained.
Your camping options in Byron bay are the North Coast Holiday Parks (approx $40 per night) which is close to town and right on the main beach or Byron Bay Holiday Park (approx $36 per night), which is cheaper to stay at and had direct access to Tallows Beach. The walk to Byron town centre is about 3kms and is a lovely walk or easy bike ride.
Day 11 – The surf is a calling you today. You can either head to the easterly side of Main Beach or to Tallows Beach depending on the swell and winds. Spend the day in the waves and just lap it up dudes and dudettes. There are SO many places to hire a board from, or a take a lesson through that I wont list them here, just run a google search and see who is running a special or promo at the time.
Day 12 – One more day in Byron Bay. Enjoy as you wish. Either hit up our article about all the cool free shit there is to do in Byron Bay or maybe splash out and enjoy something a little more wild, like skydiving over Byron Bay or take a daytrip to visit Brunswick Heads and hippie inland Mullumbimby.
Day 13 – Today we will drive only a short distance south to Lennox Head and see check out the local breaks. People say that Lennox Heads is what Byron Bay was before it was popular, so if you found Byron Bay too crowded and commercial, maybe head to Lennox Head a day early.
We stayed at the North Coast Holiday Park. It’s not cheap camping but it is close to town and is the only option unless you illegally camp in your van in the beach carpark. Your other options for legal accommodation are a few offerings from airbnb for private rooms around the $70- $90 per night mark or the Lennox Beach Resort – which does great last minute deals. Pretty much everything else is over $200 a night.
Day 14 – Last day of the roadtrip, time to take your campervan or car back to Brisbane, pack up your shit and go home. Smiles on faces and sunburn on your backs. GOT MORE TIME? Then look into heading further down the Legendary Pacific Coast for more surf hotspots.
How much will this surf roadtrip cost you?
We have a great downloadable roadtrip budget template HERE that you can plug all your numbers into, and it will prompt you for things that you might forget to factor in, like fuel for the car and gas for your cooker!
If you take the following as a base you can start to get an idea of what this might cost you:
- 3 nights Agnes Water $21 per person
- 2 nights Rainbow Beach $12 per person
- 2 nights Noosa $80 for 2 people
- 2 nights Gold Coast $12 per person
- 3 nights Byron bay $105 for 2 people
- 1 night Lennox Head $40 for 2 people
(TOTAL $315 for 2 people for 13 nights)
- Lesson in Agnes Water $17 per person
- Board hire each day approx $25-$40 per board
- save money by buying a cheap board then selling it at the end of your trip!
CAMERVAN OR CAR HIRE
FOOD & BEERS
- If you cook for yourself you can budget approx $15 per person in food. Check out our camping recipes here for ideas on fast and easy meals.
- You will drive approx 1,200 to 1,500kms over this trip, depending on how many side trips you make. There is a great little calculator here for working out how much you should budget for fuel.
(Approx $200 for this roadtrip)
When to hit the road for your sweet surf roadtrip
This roadtrip is best taken between the months of June – November as stingers an Jellyfish may hamper your surf-learning in the summer months. Jellyfish and stingers are rare but do occur as far south as Agnes Water. If you’re taking this trip in the Summer expect higher prices, more people and maybe only head as far north as Noosa (skip Agnes Water as there is possibility jellyfish maybe about). You can head further south towards Coffs Harbour and check out South West Rocks or spend time exploring the stunning Tweed Coast (between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay) to make up for missing Agnes Water. Check out our article about the Legendary Pacific Coast (that stretched from Sydney to Brisbane) for more towns to hit up further south.
Did we miss something?
Let us know in the comments below.