Lisa Owen

I found the best value surfing lesson I’ve ever heard of in a place you would probably never think to look. The unassuming beach side town of Agnes Water doesn’t look that special from the outset. The popular backpacker stop between Queensland’s Fraser Island and the Whitsundays is quaint and homely and looks like any other Australian coastal town. But it’s definitely worth a look and I was pretty enamoured with the place by the time I left.

Agnes Waters is a six hour drive from the Queensland capital of Brisbane but it’s pretty much highway driving all the way – and Gympie and Bundaberg are good pit stops on the road trip. On arriving into Agnes Waters, it didn’t take long to find out it’s about £10 for a two hour group surfing lesson and I put my name down promptly for the next day’s lesson. 

I joined about 20 other people of various ages and abilities for the lesson offered by Reef2beach Surf School on Agnes Waters Beach. Agnes Waters Beach is a worthy stop in its own right with kilometres of soft sand and it’s a great place for a swim, walk or sunbake. The Reef2Beach crew lead you through the basics first – helping you figure out which foot will lead, how to stand up, how to fall so you don’t hurt yourself and carrying your board. All equipment is provided, including a sunshirt – but you’ll need to bring sunscreen and a towel.

Reef2Beach surfing lessons 

After the instruction session, you’re split into groups of two for 15 minutes in the water, then 15 minutes rest while the other group has a go. For a beginner, surfing can be tiring – combined with being out in the sun for a couple of hours.


As part of the first group, I headed out into the water lining up with about a dozen others. Three coaches were in the water – and once it’s your turn, you head over to a coach who then tells you when to start paddling for an upcoming wave. You paddle your heart out, hear the coach yell stand and attempt to balance on the surfboard and ride the wave. The first couple of times I didn’t get up – but then suddenly it all came together and there I was standing up on a surfboard – surfing! Proud moment. Each 15 minute slot has you doing a handful of surfing attempts. Sometimes I fell and faceplanted – and sometimes I made it back to shore on the surfboard.

Lisa surfing 

As the day wore on, the surf got a little bigger and I found it hard to paddle fast enough for the waves but I still got a good amount of standing time – and so did many others. Other sights to see in the Agnes Waters area include Chinaman’s Beach and 1770, the sister town of Agnes Waters only five kilometres down the road.

Agnes Waters 

At 1770, you’ll find warm water lapping over mud flats and near mangroves. 1770 is both a great place for sunrise and sunset.


If you want to extend the experience, you can camp right on the edge of 1770 beach. If you’re at 1770 on a Sunday morning, check out the markets in the SES grounds on the road between Agnes Waters and 1770. You’ll be able to grab fresh and cheap produce or some souvenirs. Look for the macadamia honey and avocadoes at the markets – both are delicious.

Lisa bushwalk 

Another must do spot is the Paperback Forest Boardwalk, located on the right hand side of Springs Road when you’re heading from the Agnes Waters town centre. It’s only a short walk in and out of the forest, and is worth the stop to take a look at the towering paperbarks and walk along the stepping blocks. You might even be lucky to see some of the hundreds of butterflies that inhabit the forest.

Things You Should Know:

  • You’ll need to have the sunscreen handy at Agnes Waters as you’ll spend a lot of time out in the sun.
  • The Reef2Beach Surf School provides a sun T-shirt and surfboard, so all you need to bring is water, sunscreen and a hat.
  • You can book the day before for the surf school. Head to the Discover 1770 Shopfront in the town centre for more information on the surf school and other tours in the area.
  • Agnes Waters and 1770 are a good relaxing stop between Brisbane and the Whitsundays. Check out Cool Bananas Backpackers for a relaxing stay. They have hammocks and offer up cheap meals every night.
  • If the Agnes Waters Beach is a little too busy for you, check out Chinaman’s Beach. If you want a relaxing dip out of the surf, head round to the 1770 headland.

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @_thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia  

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.