It’s a wave steeped in history, one of Australia’s most famous breaks, and one where some of the most memorable competitive surfing moments ever have gone down. But for somewhere so well established in the surfing world, Bells is a wave that gets its share of stick, a fat wave, why is it on tour, etc… you’ve heard it all before. But what is it like to surf? I was intrigued, and with a swell approaching, I headed over to find out. Here’s everything you need to know about surfing Bells Beach.
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Best time of Year to Surf Bells
Winter, is when Bells turn on, the classic days, where corduroy lines stack themselves, uniformed to the horizon. This is when large swells swing underneath Australia and push swell up to Bells and the rest of Victoria. However, Bells also gets good in fall (March/April) and in spring, periods where swells still frequent the coast, and winds are lighter and easier to manage.
Where is Bells?
Bells Beach is located in Victoria, a state in the south of Australia. It is around an hour and a half drive from Melbourne.
Bells Surf Spot Breakdown
While Bells is one right-hand point break, the wave is spread across a huge playing field. A long reef with multiple sections, which can all join up on the right swells, but all have their characteristics and intricacies.
At the top you have Centres. The most exposed section of the reef and where swells first hit Bels. The waves here can be really good, but unless the swells right, the section doesn’t always join up with the rest of Bells.
By far, the cream of the Bells surfing lineup is the Bowl. This is the section that allows you to fly in with speed, and perform long arching, and wrapping turns. The best section of Bells.
Rincon is the inside section of the reef, if you will, a refined, wally section of the reef, that bends into the corner of Bells Beach. Usually, people surf this when the waves are small.
Not strictly part of Bells itself, as Winki is a separate reff, is the sister wave and one that I think is better than Bells. Winki is a more refined, more ruler edge and perfect version of Bells, more down the line, faster with more wall. An amazing wave when it’s on.
Tips for Surfing Bells Beach
With a wave as well established on the Aussie surfing map as Bells, you can expect the crowds. On good days, both Bells and Winki are packed with locals and surfers from Melbourne, all hungry for a taste of cold open faces. As always, respect the locals and try and stay patient.
The History of Surfing at Bells
Bells were first surfed as early as 1950, by guys from Torquay’s life-saving club. What used to be a sandy motorcycle track out to the point was later turned into the road that now takes you to Bell’s car park. Today, Bells host the longest-running competitive surfing event in surfing history. The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
The History of Surfing at Bells
Australia certainly isn’t one of the world’s cheapest surf destinations. Thankfully, around Torquay, there are some epic places to camp, and campsites all along the Great Ocean Road, and camping is one of the best ways to explore the area, giving you the ultimate wave-chasing flexibility.
To truly make the most of surfing Bells and the Great Ocean Road, a camper van is the way to go. While you can make use of the various campsites lining the coast (check out Camper Mate), you can essentially park anywhere and camp (as long as you’re stealthy–watch out for rangers in some spots). For epic campervan deals, check out JUCY Campers or Travellers Autobarn.
Bell’s place in surfing history is well-established and it’s a wave that any surfer should check out at least once. For more information on what surfing Bells Beach is actually like, check out my full video breakdown.