So you've had your first surf lesson and you are keen to go out on your own. The problem is that you don't know where to start. The last thing you want is to surf at a beach with huge waves you can't handle. You want a beach that will ease you in to surfing. Something that will pick your board up and give you enough time to get to your feet. Not a tsunami-esque surf that looks like it is straight out of an apocalyptic disaster film.
Scattered around Melbourne are some great beginner beaches, but to find them you need to know where to look. Below are three beaches that have waves perfect for beginners.
But before you head to any of these beaches, check online to see what the surf is like. The best website for this is Magic Seaweed. At Magic Seaweed you can find information on swell size, weather and wind direction for beaches around the coast. As a beginner, take particular interest in the size of the waves. Magic Seaweed's rating system uses swell size to help determine surfing conditions; any rating higher than 3 stars will probably mean waves too big for a beginner on a foam board. As a general rule of thumb, aim for 2 full stars.
This semi enclosed beach is great for beginner surfers. It's protected from the wind, and has small, clean waves that are not threatening for beginners. However remember to choose your day well, because it still has days of big surf. Anglesea Surf Beach is also relatively shallow meaning that you won't get dragged around by the undercurrents as much as at other beaches.
Slightly further down the Great Ocean Road, this beach is popular with 'Go Ride A Wave' classes. If you are seeking privacy while you try and master surfing, this beach tends to be less busy than Anglesea or Torquay. However, the price you pay for this privacy is more choppy water. There is also quite a strong undercurrent pulling you down the coast, so if you choose to surf here your paddling technique will definitely get a work out!
This is by far the most popular of the three great beginner beaches. In summer there is a mixture of pros and beginners, but don't feel intimidated heading out to the surf. Most of the better surfers keep near to the rocks on the far left and right. These areas are where the biggest waves break; so try aiming for the middle of the beach. The rip at this beach isn't as powerful as at Urquhart's Bluff, but it can still be pretty strong.
Great article, Ben - our family are also fans of teh beach at Ocean Grove, which is particularly safe at low tide, though you still ought to swim between the flags - a good option when neighbouring 13th Beach's surf or rip is running strong.