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Bells Beach

Bells Beach

Torquay - Melbourne - Victoria, Australia

Surf, Bodyboard

In the state of Victoria, next to Torquay, a little more than an hour south of Melbourne, you’ll find Bells Beach, an Australian and world surf icon. This coastline has many quality waves. Of them, Bells is the queen and it has become a legendary place which has seen some of the best moments in the history of surfing. The tradition and waveform has made this spot a perfect launching pad, both for the industry and the many new talented surfers who have been able to go face to face against the greatest, as was the case in the famous duel between Occy and Curren in 1986. The situation and configuration of Bells helps make it one of the best right pointbreaks in the world. Its reef is exposed to a multitude of swells, mainly from the south of the Antarctic Ocean. These swells reach the Victoria coastline, turning around Cape Otway 70 miles southwest, and from there they filter their way up the coast, forming organised series which dramatically expand as they enter Bells bay, making the views of the whole line up from the parking lot incredible. 

From high up on the cliff you can see the rocks (called Button), situated just in front of the steps which go down to the beach and which divide the line up of Bells and Winki Pop, another world class wave which is even more consistent and faster than Bells and can even reach 250 metres in length. It is possible to get to Bells from the important cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane thanks to the good links and there are flights every fifteen minutes. Bells is one hour away from Melbourne International Airport and if you hire a car, it’s easy to get there by going along the M2 and then the M1 south towards Geelong. Head to Anglesea and this will take you towards the famous Great Ocean Road and Bells Beach, which is ten minutes from Torquay.


The beach originally got its name from a farming family who were the owners of the land and later in 1949, some surfers and bodyboarders from Torquay took their motorbikes along the Bells cliff tops and were tempted by the wonder that they saw. The main problem during this time was crossing the land with the heavy boards which were used during that era and so getting to the beach became an odyssey. Bells was forgotten about until the sixties when the Malibu boards and new lighter materials made them easier to transport. In 1963, they celebrated the traditional Bells Beach Easter Rally, an event which attracted surfers from Australia and the rest of the world. Everything was changing and it gradually had a great impact. The turning point came in 1973 when a brand of jeans and the growing brand Rip Curl held a professional event, and from then on its trajectory was unstoppable. Torquay began to celebrate the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, the oldest pro competition in the world and an awesome show which can be seen from the cliffs that surround this legendary beach. The first edition was held in 1961, and today it has become not only one of the most anticipated tournaments of the entire circuit but the most prestigious and one that attracts some of the biggest crowds.

Many surf companies like Quiksilver and Rip Curl were founded very near to Bells in Torquay. This meant that from the eighties, Bells became the best publicity for the global expansion of these brands. They were very successful and because of this, it became a magnet for other brands to establish their headquarters there as well. For fifty years all of this synergy made Bells Beach a fundamental part of the surf competitions, culture and industry and recently lead it to be declared by the state of Victoria as the first and only surf reserve and to be considered as Australia’s surf capital. The community of known local surfers is well represented by the likes of Wayne Lynch, possibly the most famous surfer and shaper in the area and Donnie Alcroft, another local legend who’s been around since the sixties. Together with them are the youngsters Jeff Rowley, Darren Wilcox, Tony Ray and Nic Muscroft who are some of the best there.


Bells is an ultra-consistent spot that can work well with any tide, wind and swell originating from the SE to the SW. The best swell is from the SW with NW breezes, but the conditions can even be good with a light onshore due to the good position of the reef. It works from 2 to 12 feet, sometimes even holding more size. Its sections are known as Centerside, Rincon, Outside Bells and Bells Bowl, but they can only be connected with big swells as with less than 4 feet the wave becomes very sectioned and you have to select the right wave to be able to reach Bells Bowl from Rincon and it’s an area where most people often wait due to the better definition of the wave.


In general, with 3 to 4 feet it works better with low tide and is a surfable wave which is good for a wide range of manoeuvres. From 5 to 8 feet is good with any tide, and the best conditions come with 5 to 6 feet as you can link the sections. The most popular sections are Rincon, which breaks better with high tide and when the waves aren’t bigger than 4 feet. The Bowl, which is the most precious section and only breaks with low tide if it is less than 4 feet. If it is bigger it is difficult to paddle out in this zone, from what is known as the Inside Corner to avoid the strong currents along the shore which take you to the end of the beach. Be careful because it’s not easy to paddle out with more than 6 feet and there are bars all along the beach as well as at the line up so it’s easy to be swept out of position. It’s important to be physically fit with these conditions and to know the dynamics of the wave. The water temperature is fresh all year round, in the winter it's around 14ºC and a minimum of 4 mm is necessary and in the summer from December to February, the water temperature is around 21ºC. It's advisable to go into the water early in the morning, especially in the summer when the onshore winds are constant every day, although it can be difficult to surf due to the sunlight when the sun rises.
Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
    Righthand pointbreak
  • Wind
  • Tide
  • Swell
  • Bottom
  • Size
    2 to 12 ft
  • Time of year
    All year round
Suggested Spots
  • 1384 km from Bells Beach Byron Bay - New South Wales, Australia
  • 1424 km from Bells Beach Coolangatta - Gold Coast - Queensland, Australia
  • 2660 km from Bells Beach Waikato - West Coast - North Island, New Zealand
  • 2668 km from Bells Beach Gracetown - Margaret River - Western Australia, Australia