In the 1960s, Byron Bay was simply a lowkey surfer town, but the town’s fantastic surf conditions and breathtaking beaches quickly earned it a place on the map. Byron Bay is famed for its waves and attracts surfers and tourists alike from all across Australia and the world.
Nowadays, it’s not just the waves that bring people to Byron Bay, but the festivals, national parks, walking trails, markets, and luxury retreats. And maybe you’ll even spot Chris Hemsworth, who has a house here.
Located in the southeastern state of New South Wales, Byron Bay has a mild climate all year round, making it a great holiday destination whatever the season. We recommend avoiding the school holidays for less crowded beaches.
From stunning beaches and coastal walks to great restaurants and local markets, Byron Bay has it all. So drop your surfboard, luggage or bike with Stasher and get exploring. Here’s our guide to the best things to do in Byron Bay.
Stasher’s ultimate guide to Byron Bay…
1. Byron Bay’s beaches!
Byron Bay doesn’t just have one beach, this town has nine main beaches for you to explore. Each one is a little different and has its own character. If you’re visiting with family, you’ll want to head to the beaches with easy access parking and facilities like toilets and cafes. However if you’re feeling adventurous, you may want to venture further afield to some of the more remote beaches. These are less crowded and more unmarked by human activity. Whatever you’re after, there’s a beach for you at Byron Bay. Here are some of our favourites to help you make your decision:
Main: This is the main beach of Byron Bay, found right next to the town centre.The surf club is based here and there’s lots of convenient parking if you’re coming by car. The beautiful mountain backdrop makes this beach impressive, and it’s large enough that even on busy days there’s plenty of space for everyone.
Tallow: Tallow beach is a little further out of town, so one to get to by car. A beautiful stretch of beach with the backdrop of the Arakwal National park. Ideal for long beach walks and whale watching. Don’t forget to bring your own picnics and drinks as you won’t find any shops here that disturb the natural beauty of the beach.
Wategos: One of the most stunning beaches that Byron Bay has to offer. Wategos has good facilities (toilets, showers, BBQs and tables), making it a good choice for families. You can also start here for a cliff walk up to the lighthouse. Watch out though, Wategos does tend to get busy, so get here early to make sure you nab a parking space.
Little Wategos: The little brother of the Wategos, found just along the coast from Wategos beach. There are no facilities here which means it’s a longer walk to the toilets, but also means it’s less popular with families, so in general it’s quieter and less crowded. Well worth the walk in our opinion.
Cosy Corner: Cosy Corner is found just south of Cape Byron. A quieter alternative to some of the more popular beaches, and as the name suggests you’re well sheltered from the Northerly winds making it a guaranteed lovely day out at the beach.
2. Take a surfing lesson
Byron Bay is famous for its surfing, so whether you’re an absolute beginner or a seasoned pro, no trip would be complete without catching some waves at least once. You can book lessons with one of Byron Bay’s many surf schools, either as a group or a private lesson.
If surfing isn’t your thing, you might prefer kayaking, swimming, paddleboarding or snorkelling.
Make sure to look out for the resident dolphins who will come and greet you on the water.
One good option is to book a kayaking tour with Cape Byron Kayaks. They’ll take you paddling all around the Cape for spectacular views of the Byron Bay shoreline. And if you don’t see dolphins or whales, you’ll get a free return trip!
3. Watch the sunrise
How often can you say that you get to watch the sunrise from the easternmost point of Australia’s mainland? Here you can experience being one of the first ones to see the morning sun rays lighting up the sky. And the view from Byron Bay’s many beaches of the sun rising over the water is truly breathtaking. Definitely worth getting up for and a peaceful time of day to experience the world gently waking up.
4. Cape Byron walking track
Whether hiking is your thing or not, the Cape Byron walking track is one of the most popular activities to do in Byron Bay and a great way to get your bearings and appreciate the scenery. The circuit is roughly 3.7km in total and will take you 2 hours to walk round. The views are absolutely unbeatable from the cliffs.
Cape Byron is the easternmost point of the Australian mainland, so from this walk you’re looking out with an unbroken view over the Pacific. This hike will take you past Clarkes Beach, the Pass, Wategos Beach, and Little Wategos Beach. Don’t forget your water bottle!
5. Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary boardwalk
Back before Byron Bay was an international surf destination, it was a swamp. You can see for yourself what this was like in the Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary. Don’t be put off by the idea of swamp land, the Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary is a protected park and incredibly beautiful. Here, the swamp land has been preserved with a boardwalk added to give an easy stroll for walkers. But don’t forget your insect repellant! The swampy conditions means that the insect populations are very much thriving in Cumbebin. To start the walk, head over to Wordsworth Street.
6. Make a trip out to Killen Falls
Killen falls is one of several waterfalls in the region and a great day trip from Byron Bay. It will take you roughly 20 minutes in the car from town centre. This area is one of the last remaining places where you can experience big scrub rainforests. Years ago, this landscape covered most of the Northern Rivers, but demand for cedar wood has rapidly reduced the extent of the jungle. Walking around here, you get to feel like you’re in a hidden jungle. Here you’ll find a natural swimming hole, complete with a waterfall and cave.
To get to the viewing platform, it’s roughly a 1km walk from the car park area. Be careful as even though it is only a short walk, the track is fairly steep and uneven in places. In order to protect the wildlife, authorities ask that you take your litter home with you.
7. Whale watching
Whale watching is one of the best things to do in Byron Bay. You’re looking out for the humpback whales that pass close to the shore as they undertake their annual migration. Every year the whales journey from Antarctica to their breeding grounds on the Great Barrier Reef and then home again. You can take a boat cruise out to get a better view of the whales, but you’ll also get a pretty good view of them just from the coastline. We recommend the coastal walkway and near the lighthouse as the best whale watching spots.
8. Cape Byron Lighthouse
As the name suggests, this lighthouse is located in Cape Byron and is one of Australia’s most beautiful lighthouses. Built in 1901, this lighthouse is equipped with the most powerful light in Australia.
For the Bundjalung people, the traditional custodians of Byron Bay, this headland was known for its physical and spiritual gifts. For this reason it was a place of cultural, social, and religious gatherings. The beauty of the place makes it easy to understand why.
If you don’t feel like hiking to the lighthouse, you can drive up to fairly nearby and finish your journey on foot.
9. Go snorkelling with the sea turtles
You may be getting the picture by now, water sports and activities are some of the best things to do in Byron Bay. A particular highlight is going snorkelling with the sea turtles that live just off the coast. The best spot for snorkelling is universally agreed to be at Julian Rocks. On a normal day out snorkelling, you can expect to see rays and beautiful corals as well as sea turtles. Living here are over 500 different species of fish, and Julian Rocks is a protected reserve for Grey Nurse Sharks. But don’t worry these sharks are gentle natured and nothing like the more dangerous sharks that Australia’s waters have a reputation for.
And if you want to go deeper and see the underwater world up close, you can go scuba diving here or take a diving course to explore the depths.
10. Visit The Farm
This one is located a little out of Byron Bay, but well worth the drive. Take the Pacific Highway out of Byron Bay and you’ll soon pass The Farm on your left.
Known simply as The Farm, this is a community, a farm, a shop, and a restaurant all rolled into one. This modern working farm stretches over 80 acres, cultivating crops, fruit, vegetables, and animals. The emphasis here is very much on collaboration, as a modern take on a working co-operative, where individual businesses are united by an aim to grow, feed, and educate. You can take a guided tour to learn more about the history and ethos of The Farm.
This is a great activity for families, groups of friends or solo travellers, as you can wander round and look at the animals, relax in the orchards, or pick up some fresh produce from the on site shop.
If you’re hungry, the on site restaurant The Three Blue Ducks has a reputation for delicious food, especially their brunches. And make sure to leave room for some delicious Baylato Gelato, made using The Farm’s produce.
11. Wander round Byron Bay’s markets
Whether you’re after artisan creations for a souvenir, street food, fresh produce, or vintage clothes, between the different markets of Byron Bay there’s something for everyone. There are 4 main markets in Byron Bay, each one occurring once a month on a Sunday.
- Butler Street = 1st sunday of the month
- Channon Market = 2nd sunday of the month, at The Channon
- Mullumbimby Market = 3rd sunday of the month, at Summers Park
- Bungalow Market = 4th Sunday, at the Showgrounds
So there you have it, our guide to the best 11 things to do in Byron Bay. Bet you can’t wait to get started! So drop off your bags with Stasher and start your adventure.
Hi! I am George and I am the Content Lead for Stasher.com. I love travel, writing, making music and meeting new and interesting people.