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The Real Surfer’s Paradise – Crescent Head

The Real Surfer’s Paradise – Crescent Head

The morning stirs with exotic birdsong in the surrounding National Park. A gentle offshore breeze rustles through the trees. And a faint chorus of peeling waves beckon you from your slumber…

It’s dawn. The sun is yet to peep over the horizon, yet the deserted beach is already golden. Sand stretches further than the eye can see, fringed with green leafy wilderness. In the distance, several headlands shine under the sun now rising. For this is not the only point break, and each headland is a reminder of how many more right hand peeling waves await.

Toes in the warm shoreline, surfboard clutched under arm. This is Big Hill Beach, just one of the many perfect surf spots in the Crescent Head National Surfing Reserve in the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. And once there, you’ll soon discover what a real surfer’s paradise is.

A Real Surfer’s Paradise

In the Crescent Head area, skyscrapers are replaced by tall gum trees, main roads replaced by unsealed tracks, and busy line ups replaced by a choice of several right hand point breaks and beach breaks on unspoilt empty coastlines. There are waves that can peel perfectly for up to 400 metres – and you’ll be the only one on it. And behind you, several more perfect one-surfer waves continue to roll in. That’s what happens here, the waves keep coming. There’s no rush. No stress. Maybe that’s why the township of Crescent Head is so laid back.

Crescent Head Town

Crescent Head lives and thrives for surfing. It’s the mecca of long boarding culture and home to the Classic Malibu Annual Surf Comp. Look around the sleepy town and the signs of surfing lifestyle are everywhere. Where else would a local Post Office sell custom-made surfboards? The Main Beach seems to be the central meeting place for young and old for surfing, watching surfing, or meeting up and talking about surfing. Long-haired surfers from aged 7 to 77 can be seen reaching the shore after an epic wave and choosing the long walk back to a rock off in favour of a 400 metre paddle back. But the action doesn’t happen on land. It happens in the water, and there’s lots of it, and plenty of surf spots to choose from.


Crescent Head Surf Spots – a Journey through Photography

There are so many beaches to choose from, and always somewhere to surf no matter what direction the wind or swell. Here are a few of the stunning places we surfed at on our recent trip:


Crescent Head Main Beach

Crescent Head Point is famous for it’s right hand wave, which peels for up to 400 meters in perfect conditions. But the main beach also offers a variety of right and left hand barrelling waves in north or south swell directions. Both are protected when there’s a south wind. We’ve surfed with dolphins and had the ocean to ourselves during the off-season autumn months #bucketlist

Back Beach

To the south of Crescent Head is Back Beach which extends about 7km southward to the Racecourse Headland. There are heaps of spots to surf here, and this is one of the places locals go to escape the Crescent Head Holiday crowds.

Racecourse Beach

A stunning and popular spot. Racecourse campground is situated right behind the beach so can be awash with surfers in peak season ( this photo was taken is absolute peak season as way of an example!). But there’s a lot of waves to choose from and it’s a perfect place to spot Whales on the horizon during the migration period.

Racecourse Head

When the sand and swell stack up, this point is on point. A simply stunning spot that often gets missed by non-locals as it’s tucked away around the corner to the main Racecourse Beach. It’s always worth stopping by to check it out.

Delicate Nobby

Delicate-Nobby provides a unique coastal experience, although the waves do vary here. Locals will assure you of perfect days at this beach, but you will also need the perfect combination of swell, wind and tides to experience its great waves… And we have!

Big Hill

Personally, one of my favourite spots! An unsealed road south of Delicate-Nobby will bring you to Big Hill – a sand bottom point break that relies on mother nature depositing enough sand to the right spots. Every day we have been here over the years, this point has worked out for us – great for dolphin spotting too!

Paradise Found – Paradise Lost

Of course, when somewhere becomes famous for world-class waves, eventually, the crowds will come. So choosing to visit in peak holiday times is bound to see the water busier (I overheard one local at Big Hill saying, “There’s like 20 hundred surfers out there,” when in fact, there were only 12 – so depending on where you’re used to surfing, that is still a pretty quiet line up!).

The good news though, is that there are so many waves, you will get some. Each time we go to Crescent Head, the VisitingNSW team gets that ‘Dude! That was my best wave ever’ feeling several times a day. And if you’re brave enough to cope with winter camping, you can be rewarded with waves and National Park Campgrounds all to yourself too.

Useful Links

We’ll be doing a round up review of places to camp in Crescent Head soon, so watch this space! Until then, here’s a list of useful campsite and websites so you can get the best out of your stay in the real Surfer’s Paradise.

List of Camping Spots Links in Area

Crescent Head Holiday Park
Racecourse Beach Campground
Delicate Campground (allows dogs)
Limeburners Campground
Surfaris Camp

List of Learn to Surf Links


Surfaris Surf School
On Point Surf School
Learn to Surf

Best Bakery Ever Link

Barnett’s Bakery & Coffee Shop

Getting yourself to Crescent Head!

Crescent Head

Founder of VisitingNSW & Head Honcho

A pen-wielding, surfboard-hugging Wanderluster with absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever. Get’s lost several times a day, adding extra adventure to well planned out travel itineraries.

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