Guide to Traveling to Newcastle for Surfest

Newcastle Surfest

G’day Travelers! I recently took the opportunity to head up to Newcastle to catch the action star studded surfing action of Surfest.

Surfest is a long running event up in Newcastle that features a mix of events that cater for everyone from local up and coming surfers all the way through to multiple world champions. The 2016 edition was the 31st running of the event, which has been won by world famous surfers including Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore.

Newcastle Surfest 2016

Where is Newcastle Surfest held?

Newcastle’s Surfest is held at Merewether Beach, just to the south of Newcastle’s CBD. Just a 5 to 10 minute drive for the center of town. It’s even possible to walk there from the CBD via the Newcastle Memorial Walk.

As for Newcastle, for those not familiar, it is a 2 hour drive north of Sydney in the state of NSW.

Where To Stay?

As I mentioned in the previous section, Newcastle is centrally located and just a short drive from Merewether Beach. Newcastle offers a variety of accommodation options around the city. Some offer great views of the beaches, while others offer views over the harbour foreshore.

Here’s is a selection of some of the hotels in and around Newcastle that would be ideal for Surfest, have a look at these hotel options via

Getting Around?

In terms of cities, Newcastle’s CBD is quite small, making it nice an easy to walk around. However the greater Newcastle area is expansive, including Merewether Beach which means having a car to drive or taking advantage of the public transport (predominantly busses) is highly recommended.

For more information about Newcastle’s busses head on over to the Newcastle Busses website –

Newcastle Surfest 2016

What To Do In The Evenings?

One thing Newcastle is not short of is nightlife. The foreshore, particularly Honeysuckle Wharf, is lined with restaurants and pubs. The CBD has a variety of pubs and restaurants scattered throughout. A couple of recommendations are the Honeysuckle Hotel and the King Street Hotel for those looking for a some drinks and music. For something a little quieter, then look out for The Argyle and The CBD Hotel.

Spending Time in Newcastle Before or After?

The Beaches are one of the key attractions in Newcastle, but there are a couple of other things to do while you’re in town. Heading on over to Stockton Beach to explore the sand dunes or some quad-biking is one of my favourites. While Fort Scratchley and Nobby’s Lighthouse are attractions a bit closer to the CBD.

Newcastle is also a good base for exploring some of the scenic regions in the area. If you’ve got a car I’d recommend exploring the Hunter Valley and Port Stephens nearby.

Surfest Tips

The first tip I have for attending Surfest is to remember that the competition kicks off early in the morning. Surf events start early in the morning, usually not long after the sun has risen, when the wave are their most predictable. If your planning on attending make sure you get there early to catch all the action.

Also getting in early will help with finding a parking spot. Parking is at a premium around Merewether Beach during Surfest, particularly at the southern end of the beach. If you find it difficult to get a spot, there is a lot of parking to the northern end of the beach and up near King Edward Park. Then it’s just a short walk down to the beach.

There is plenty of room along the beach to watch the action. You’ll find a lot of people crammed in along the boardwalk near Merewether Baths but if you walk further up the boardwalk or the beach you’ll find plenty of space to sit down and catch the action.

Newcastle Surfest 2016

For more information about Surfest including all the latest news from this years event head on over to the Surfest website –

If you’d like to see my photos from 2016’s Newcastle Surfest, head on over to –

Have you been to Surfest before? I’d be interested to see if you had any additional tips I might have missed. Leave them in a comment below.

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About the Author: Rhys Vandersyde

Traveler, Photographer, Content Creator. I've spent the last 10 years exploring all over the world, but there is still plenty more to see.

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