The famous breaks of Yallingup, Margaret River and Gracetown and their surfing history, have a large part to play in the evolution of the region to its current stronghold as one of WA’s leading destinations for food, wine and nature.

From as early as the 1950s, surfers have been visiting with boards in tow to enjoy the pristine waters and incredible surf breaks, though it wasn’t until the 1970s that the surf culture really took hold and they started making the move to live and settle in the area. With the wine industry taking root in the same decade, daily life picking grapes in the morning and riding the waves in the afternoon saw Margaret River start to flourish and become fairly entrenched as both a surf and wine destination.

1970 Yallingup State Surfing Titles
Historic photo from Yalls State Titles, 1970s. Photo: Aravina Estate Surf Gallery WA

Surfing in Margaret River has come a long way since then. The powerful reef breaks endemic to the region have established it as an important place of Australian surfing culture, spawned three generations of international competitors, and for almost 40 years seen the region hosting an international surfing event.

Initially known as the Margaret River Masters, the Margaret River Pro has seen some of the largest surf in Australian surfing contest history, and has been a major economic drawcard for the region, with a study commissioned by Tourism WA estimating that since 2013 it has contributed to over $20million to the local economy.

WSL - Margaret River surf break
The Margaret River Pro has seen some of the largest surf in Australian surfing contest history. Photo: Supplied

While it began as a second-tier regional qualifying series event, the Margaret River Pro became part of the World Surf League’s (WSL) championship tour in 2014, attracting top international surfing competitors. In 2022, it became the most climatic stop on the tour when the WSL introduced the mid-year cut. At Margaret River, surfers fight for their position in the top two-thirds of the ranks, with the lowest surfers losing their position for the remainder of the season.

For visitors and spectators, this drama and competitive intrigued adds to the spectacle, with the Margaret River Pro promising to be one of the most exciting stops on the tour, and one of the biggest annual events for the region. This year, the tour returns to the Margaret River Region for 10 days, kicking things off from Thursday 11 April.

Local favourite Jack Robinson at the Margaret River Pro. Photo: Jess Ker

The best way to experience ‘the Pro’, is of course, live in the flesh, with spectators able to watch all the action live and free at Surfers Point. Margaret River is one of the few stops on the tour to offer a variety of options. The bulk of the event takes place at Mainbreak, a powerful, deepwater left and right-hand reef break, with competition occasionally shifting across the bay to The Box, a heavy, shallow, slabbing tube that tests even the world’s best.

WSL - Margaret River surf break
The bulk of the event takes place at Mainbreak, a powerful, deepwater left and right-hand reef break. Photo: WSL

The event hub has a true festival vibe with big screens showing replays, expert commentary, food trucks and merchandise stands. Best of all, however, grommets can get up close with their surfing heroes at the walkway where they can collect autographs and selfies.

Before and after competition time, you may also get to surf with some of the world’s best as they prepare for the event and sample some of the region’s other world-class waves. For non-surfers, the event is one of the most bustling and exciting times around town, and is a brilliant excuse to sample the region’s other offerings – cheese, wines, and raw, beautiful nature.

2023 World Champion Caroline Marks at the Margaret River Pro in 2023. Photo: Raeley Jones / Surfing WA

For those interested in learning to surf, the region is also home to several surf schools, including Yallingup Surf School, Margaret River Surf School and Margaret River Surfing Academy. If you’re already an avid surfer, you can hire surfboards with Yahoo Surfboards and Surfboard Hire too.

Aravina Estate is also home to the historic Surf Gallery WA, which features a celebration of surfing history throughout Western Australia. The gallery is the first and only official collection of surfing memorabilia in WA and includes historical photos from renowned surfing photographers Rich Chan and Greg Woodward, classic surfboards, and images and stories from legendary WA surfers.

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