About Us – Solitary Islands Surf School

Solitary Islands Surf School started back in 2011 on the same day Surfing Australia launched it’s national junior development program VEGEMITE SurfGroms, next known as Weet-Bix SurfGroms and nudie SurfGroms, and now known as Woolworths SurfGroms.

From here, things got moving fairly quickly! Solitary Islands Surf School had the perfect locations on the northern beaches of the Coffs Coast.  Big headlands offer great protection from the wind, and the beaches are nice and flat which is perfect for surfers of all ages and ability. This combined with the fact we’re located right at the heart of the Solitary Islands Marine Park, and you have some of Australia’s most pristine locations to surf in!!

Solitary Islands Surf School is owned and operated by Darryn Quigley.

Darryn Quigley has spent most of his adult life surf coaching and running surf school operations in Australia and around the world. In 2009 Darryn found himself in the role of Sports Development Manager at Surfing Western Australia and while the position was a dream job home was at Emerald Beach on the Coffs Coast. Years of experience running surf schools, developing learn to surf programs and delivering level 1 coaching courses now had Darryn ready to start his own operation.

In 2013 Sawtell Surf School became part of the Solitary Islands Surf School family. Original founder Caspian O’Donnell saw the partnership as a great opportunity to be part of a dynamic surf school operation. Adding the charm of Sawtell Beach to the already established locations on the northern beaches of the Coffs Coast. A short 5 minute drive from Coffs Harbour Sawtell has some of the best cafes and restaurants on the Coffs Coast which is just what you need after a great surf lesson. Our Sawtell operation is still run by Caspian who is one of the most liked and respected local surfers in the area.

Solitary Islands Surf School is Eco-Certified


At Solitary Islands Surf School we aim to cater for everyone’s needs and want to get as many people as we can surfing. If you want to discuss particular needs, please call us so we can chat about how we can accommodate you.

All our beaches that we operate at have a boat ramp and/or a beach access ramp next to where we set up. This makes them accessible for wheelchairs, strollers and other  transportation. A Council Beach Wheelchair is available for use at Woolgoolga Beach and a Mobi Mat to the water’s edge is available at Coffs Jetty Beach.

Parking is available at all locations at our meeting point and at the boat ramps or ramp access points. Toilets are available at all locations and accessible for everyone.

Protecting Our Environment

Committed to maintaining our area’s natural beauty!

Solitary Islands Surf School is super stoked to be Ecotourism Certified with Ecotourism Australia. You can learn more about ecotourism and our certification at Ecotourism Australia

Our goal at Solitary Islands Surf School is to be proactive in our everyday business practices to achieve positive environmental outcomes. We are lucky enough to operate within the waters of the Solitary Islands Marine Park and we know it’s our duty to maintain our area’s natural beauty.

The ECO Certification program assures participants at our surf school that certified products are backed by a strong, well managed commitment to sustainable practices. In addition, this certification provides high quality nature-based tourism surf experiences.

Here at Solitary Islands Surf School we have a small committed team of surf coaches who are always striving to maintain strong environmental practices and help educate everyone who participates in our surf school. Now more than ever we want to be a part of positive and effective tourism practices to help preserve our ecosystem.

We encourage all our clients to minimise their impact and to leave only footprints on our beautiful beaches. What are some things we do at Solitary Islands Surf School to lessen our impact on the environment and to act on climate change?

  • Encourage participants to walk and ride to our lessons and when they go to the beach
  • Practising everyday water and resource conservation
  • Recycling our equipment like wetsuits, fins, leg-ropes and other products to reduce waste
  • Use eco-friendly wetsuit washing products
  • Use Take 3 From The Sea initiatives to always leave the beach better than we arrived
  • Working together with our partners like Coffs Harbour City Council to prioritize environmental impact.
  • Minimal impact behaviour i.e. keeping groups sizes small and keeping to tracks
  • Monitoring our fuel, waste and water usage and trying to reduce it over time
  • Here at Solitary Islands Surf School our aim is to find a strong balance with being environmentally and financially sustainable with our business practices. As Surf School Operators we have a big responsibility to maintain our area’s natural beauty.

Want to do more?

Did you know Australia has one of the world’s largest ecological footprints in the world? If you want to do more then here are a few places to start:


Where do you operate?
All our operating locations are on the Coffs Coast and in the pristine waters of the Solitary Islands Marine Park. You can choose from four locations – Woolgoolga Beach, Emerald Beach or Darlington Beach (all north of Coffs Harbour) or Sawtell Beach (to the south of Coffs Harbour.

Solitary Islands Marine Park is a place where the warm waters of the East Australian Current meet cooler waters from the south. They bring together tropical, subtropical and temperate marine life. Many species mingling here are at the northern or southern limit of their range. The marine park includes Pimpernel Rock, a submerged pinnacle rising to within a few metres of the surface.

Critically endangered grey nurse sharks gather here, making it a popular dive spot.

The Yaegl people are the Traditional Owners of the land and sea in the northern Solitary Islands. The Githabul / Gumbaynggirr people are the Traditional Owners of the land and sea in the central and southern Solitary Islands.

The marine park covers 152 square kilometres, with depths from 15 metres to 70 metres. More info about the park here

How do we reduce our environmental footprint?
SISS are committed to environmental sustainability and taking action on climate change. Have a look at some of the things we do to look after our beautiful coastal environment and to reduce our carbon emissions above.

What do I need to bring?
You don’t really need to bring much to your surf lesson, but try to remember the  following items:

  • Swimwear
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Drinking water
  • Your booking voucher (printed or on your phone)
  • A HUGE smile!!….

What time are the lessons?
We schedule our lessons depending on the daily tides and conditions – so our lesson times change from day to day. When you make a booking you will be shown the time options for your preferred date.

How many people are in a group?
Our instructor/student ratio is small. We have a maximum of six in a group allowing you to have plenty of attention from your instructor to help you learn quickly.

Do I need to be able to swim?
A lot of our lessons are held in waist-deep water but we do ask that you’re able to swim 50 metres (the length of an Olympic swimming pool) for all group lessons. Contact us if you are unsure of your swimming ability.

What is your cancellation policy?
If you would like to reschedule a lesson you have booked, we need at least 24 hours notice. Failure to give the necessary notice will mean forfeiture of that lesson.

At our surf school, we run surf lessons in all weather and surf conditions, rain hail or shine, providing it is safe to do so. If the surf is too big, or completely flat, or if the conditions are unsafe due to high winds or lightning, then we will reschedule your lesson. If we change the time and you are unable to come to the new lesson, then we will provide a credit toward another lesson at a later date. If that is unsatisfactory we may issue a refund at our discretion.

What else can I do whilst I’m in the area?
There are heaps of things to do and places to visit on the Coffs Coast whether you’re here for a day, week, month or live here! Check out coffscoast.com.au for lots of information.

Solitary Islands Surf School
Surfing Australia Approved
FCS Partner
GoPro Partner
Surfing Australia Approved

Surfing Australia Approved

Solitary Islands Surf School and Sawtell Surf Schools are fully licensed Surfing Australia Surf Schools and 100% compliant with their quality and safety standards.
Unbeatable Locations

Unbeatable Locations

We run our lessons and courses at some of the most pristine and beautiful beaches in Australia.Weather and water temperature is great for surfing all year round.
Experienced Coaches

Experienced Coaches

We have one of the most balanced team of coaches in Australia, with a vast and diverse range of experience and skill sets to accommodate for all levels of surfing.
Darryn Quigley

Darryn Quigley

Solitary Islands Surf School Owner

Darryn Quigley is a local Emerald Beach surfer who has spent his adult life surf coaching around the globe. While not quiet having the same natural surf talent as Harley, Darryn has used another direction to keep him in the ocean daily. Darryn is the brain’s trust behind Solitary Islands Surf School.

Harley Ingleby

Harley Ingleby

Solitary Islands Surf School Ambassador

Harley Ingleby is a local 2 x world Longboard champ, one of the most well rounded surfers in Australia if not the world; an experienced surf coach; and a partner in Solitary Islands Surf School here on the Coffs Coast.

Caspian O'Donnell

Caspian O'Donnell

Sawtell Surf School Manager

Caspian O’Donnell is a local Sawtell Surfer and has been a part of the local surf scene for many years. Caspian started Sawtell Surf School as a little hobby business to make a few extra dollars, but now it’s a whole lot more.

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