Your Ultimate Guide to Byron Bay
23rd June 2020
Renowned as a relaxed, friendly and laidback destination, Byron Bay is popular with tourists across the world. Lucky for those living in Sydney, the beautiful coastal town isn’t far away. Just over an hour from the capital by plane, getting from Sydney to Byron Bay is effortless. Unwind and relax in Byron Bay during an extended weekend escape this winter. Be the first to see the orange skies at sunrise in Australia’s easternmost town and bask in natural landscapes comprised of rainforests, beaches, hills and green valleys.
Food and drink, surf and nature
Byron Bay is a fusion of surf culture, alternative lifestyles and increasingly luxurious and indulgent pursuits. Excellent options for dining are scattered all across the town and first-rate cafes and bars are plenty. In fact, food and drink has become a real defining quality of Byron Bay. Nine ravishing beaches also steal the show here. If you’re a surfer, you’ll know that the Byron Bay coastline provides some of the best surf in the whole country (and the world). Australians and tourists alike drop by this gorgeous surfing gem for surfing trips all year round.
Been a while since you’ve visited Byron Bay? The town might have changed a whole lot since the 1960s when it was known for its hippy, laid back vibes and surfing scene. However, today a great deal of this still remains. Plus, on top of this, today you will also find multiple festivals, national parks with endless walking trails, local markets, health and wellbeing retreats and lots of luxury escapes. You might just be surprised by the variety of things to do in Byron Bay for any demographic and interest.
Whether you’re after a weekend of food, wine and luxury or a surfing and hiking trip, Byron Bay offers it. Considering a trip to the coastal town? Grab yourself some accommodation in Byron Bay and get planning. Here, we provide you with some ideas concerning what to do in Byron Bay. Use this guide to sculpt your next trip to this glorious coastal haven.
Things to do in Byron Bay
Stroll to the lighthouse
Standing at the easternmost point on the Australian mainland, the Byron Bay lighthouse is iconic. The lighthouse was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century and has remained, fully functioning, ever since. Stood at the foot of the lighthouse, you’ll find the Byron Bay hinterlands on one side and an ocean panorama to the other. Keep an eye out; dolphins and sea turtles can often be spotted from this Byron Bay landmark. Opt to be at the lighthouse for the most magical time of day; sunrise. Witness the sun flood the town and hilly backdrop with bright light. If you’re less of a morning person, visit for sunset to see bright orange skies ignite the town and coastline.
Go surfing in Byron Bay
You can pretty much go surfing in Byron Bay all year round. With nine beaches and eight breaks, no matter what the conditions are like, you’ll be able to catch some waves. Warm waters face three different directions: North, East and South. You’ll be spoilt for choice whether you’re a seasoned surfer or beginner. If you’re looking to learn a little, consider taking a lesson with Rusty Miller Surf.
At The Wreck – a favourite spot for surfers all year around – experience a unique tidal break caused by a shipwreck. Whether you’re a beginner or professional, drop by The Pass – the most popular of surf beaches in Byron Bay. Main Beach is another option for all abilities and has a Surf Lifesavers patrol for your increased safety. Beautiful Clarkes Beach is also a special spot and very popular. You’ll fall in love with its sweeping sandy beaches which trail off into the distance.
Walk through The Tree Sanctuary
Step away from the beach (at least for now). The Tree Sanctuary – as it is known by locals – in Byron Bay offers something a little different. Byron Bay itself used to be rainforest and swamp. Whilst this has now been displaced with the seaside town, a part of this beautiful nature still exists today. At Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary, stroll along the boardwalk and soak in the beauty of the peaceful sanctuary. Take a short walk through this preserved chunk of rainforest, or simply enjoy a peaceful break from the bustling town.
Visit The Farm
Another landmark in the seaside town of Byron Bay, is The Farm. 80-acres large, the working farm offers guided tours. You might think that sounds a little different to your typical weekend escape activity, and you’re right. However this little gem is a wonderful Byron Bay attraction. The Farm represents individual businesses whose intentions are to feed the local community and to grow food, as well as educate on the topic of agriculture. Learn a little about sustainability and healthy lifestyles, and stop for a snack or pick up some local produce on your way out. Also offering a hamper option, you can grab some mouth-watering local produce from the shop and wander off into the grounds for a picnic. Set down a picnic blanket and spend an afternoon nibbling cheeses, breads, nuts and dried fruits in the Byron sun.
Take a dip in the tea tree lakes
Just over twenty minutes south of Byron Bay, there are a handful of lakes ideal for a swim. Settle your mind and escape the vibrancy of the town for the day at Lake Ainsworth. Historically a swimming lake in the 19th and 20th centuries, the lake is clear and contains beautifully fresh water. Surrounded by trees, birdsong and sunlight, you’ll find this one of the most relaxing things to do in Byron Bay.
Go whale watching
Being situated at the easternmost point of Australia has advantages other than great views and surfing. From May to October, you can catch a glimpse of whales passing by the Australian coastline, migrating from Antarctica towards warmer waters. For the ultimate whale watching experience, take a trip with Byron Bay Whale Watching. Guides – eco-trained – will take you on a whale watching experience by boat, providing an informative commentary and teaching you a little about marine life in the Byron Bay waters.
Pay a visit to the Byron Bay Market
Byron Bay is a hub for numerous talented creatives and artistic minds. Discover the region’s artisans at the vibrant community markets during a trip. The Channon Craft Market and Byron Bay Artisan Market are both great for the arts and crafts side of things. If that’s not for you, or if you’re after a more traditional food market, opt for Byron Bay Farmer’s Market. A trip here has to be on your list of things to do in Byron Bay. Each Thursday at 8-11am, find exquisite stalls selling local produce and wander around to the sound of live music. Inspired by people from the Byron Bay vicinity who wanted to create something positive for the local community, the Farmer’s Market has evolved to become a beautiful icon of Byron Bay.
Go hiking in a national park
Byron Bay is set within a special and diverse natural environment. Originally a swamp and full of thick rainforest, with lakes and seaside close by and rolling hills next door, there’s really a bit of everything in Byron Bay. Explore Nightcap National Park and quickly realise why it qualifies for UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gorgeous waterfalls and hidden pools, unique flora and fauna and steep valleys make a visit to this place one of the best things to do in Byron Bay. Laced with hiking trails, including one which loops over Minyon Falls, the national park is easy to navigate.
Arkwal National Park is equally stunning. What’s particularly interesting here is how it’s managed. The park is co-managed by the State Government as well as the Arakwal Aboriginal community. This collaboration ensures the preservation of land with significant meaning for the Aboriginal community. Meanwhile, it also keeps native wildlife including migratory seabirds protected. Arakwal National Park itself is comprised of the beach, undulating sand dunes and a deep green forest backdrop. Visit the absolutely spectacular and far-reaching Tallow Beach, which lines the tropical forests. Nature lovers will find that no other beach in the vicinity is more worth a visit. Take an evening stroll for sunset to soak up the true beauty here.
Hike to the top of Mount Warning
Only an hour from Byron Bay is Mount Warning. Rainforest landscapes and an ancient volcano give this national park a truly dazzling and wild feel. Follow the 8.8km track to the summit. At sunrise, this is the first place to receive light in Australia. Sacred amongst the Bundjalung People of the area, you’re allowed to summit yet not climb to the top of this peak.
Kayak on the waters of Byron Bay
Water is a big part of the Byron Bay lifestyle and a trip isn’t whole without at least one water related activity. If surfing isn’t for you, try kayaking. Grab a kayak and immerse yourself in the Byron Bay experience by getting into the water. Tour operators are lined up along Clarkes Beach and so you can drop by a few places for a chat before deciding what suits you. Opt for Cape Byron Kayaks and get out into the water to catch a glimpse of Byron Bay’s dolphins. Paddle around in the waters with fully qualified Surf Life Savers – you’re in great hands!
Experiences in Byron Bay
Byron Bay is a natural skydiving location due to its beautiful beachside location and extensive natural landscapes. As you fall towards planet earth, take in the entire Byron Bay area and catch a glimpse of the never-ending Australian coastline. Witness the true wildness of the region where sandy beaches meet leafy jungles.
Try snorkelling or scuba diving in Byron Bay
Julian Rocks Marine Reserve, the most famous site for underwater activities in Byron Bay, was in 2014 dubbed a ‘mini-Galapagos’ by Lonely Planet. Without a doubt, the seaside town is a wonderful place to learn to scuba dive. Alternatively, hire a snorkel and glance down at the vibrant sea life of Australia. Julain Rocks is well-known for its marine life and interestingly, currents of cold and warm water make for a very diverse array of sea creatures. Sharks and rays, tropical fish, turtles and endless numbers of smaller sea life live under the glossy ocean surface at Byron Bay. Opt for a snorkel tour or take the plunge and go on a scuba tour with Byron Bay Dive Centre. If you have a little more time opt for a PADI course and really immerse yourself in the underwater world.
Learn about distilling
Visit a distillery with a unique and exciting approach during your stay in Byron Bay. Cape Byron Distillery respects the traditions of distillation whilst creating spirits which showcase the distinct Byron Bay region. Take a distillery tour and learn about the story behind the distillery as well as the fascinating flavours and concoctions produced on site. Alternatively, get back to basics and opt for a rainforest tour to discover the botanicals of the rainforest used in their gin. Take part in a tasting and relax on the decking overlooking fabulous farmlands, packed with birds. This is a distillery with a difference, and the experience has to be one of the most unique things to do in Byron Bay.
Cafes and restaurants in Byron Bay
Byron Byron cafes are everywhere and you won’t have trouble finding something you like. Bayleaf is a great option for organic food, beautifully presented. It’s busy, so expect it to be bustling during your visit. Excellent and inventive coffees and food sprinkled with dried flower petals epitomise the style here. Sparrow is a friendly and very vibrant cafe nestled in the heart of Byron. Pick up a juices or smoothie to refresh yourself on a hot day and chat to the friendly staff.
The Top Shop is one to remember for a tasty lunch. Insanely delicious burgers made for meat-eaters as well as vegans will tempt anyone. Sit at a table, out on the grass or take your lunch to the beach only a few minutes away by foot. The Pressed Pantry is a wonderful option for vegans among us. A cold pressed juicery and boutique salad bar, the Pressed Pantry is a great choice for your afternoon snack or refreshing and healthy cold drink.
If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a lazy lunch or a delectable dinner, you’ll find plenty of options for restaurants in Byron Bay. For the quintessential Byron Bay experience, head to Three Blue Ducks. Built upon a dream of sustainability and environmental respect, the award-winning restaurant serves up contemporary Australian food in a relaxed environment. Three Blue Ducks is located on an organic Macadamia farm and offers great views as well a mouth-watering organic, chemical-free menu.
For those who love Mexican cuisine, Miss Margarita, opened in 2012 is ideal. Mexican bites and an impressive drinks menu – including lots of cocktails – will tempt you to stay for the afternoon. Federal Doma Cafe, also opened in 2012 is the best of restaurants in Byron Bay for Japanese influenced food. Creative salads and international flavours, all laced with an underlying Japanese theme can be found here. Grab a sushi roll to take out if you’re on the go. Byron Bay restaurants are abundant, and whilst theses are some good options, you’ll find plenty more!
Book your trip to Byron Bay
Less than two hours away by plane, the trip from Sydney to Byron Bay couldn’t be easier. This could be the NSW Weekend Escape you’re looking for. Looking for hotels in Byron Bay? Take a look at our recommendation for accommodation.
When it comes to hotels in Byron Bay, there’s no better place to be than 150 metres away from Main Beach. Surrounded by lively cafes, bustling restaurants, boutique stores and beachfront views, Byron Bay Hotel and Apartments is an exceptional base for your escape to Byron Bay. Grab yourself a cosy room for a night or two, or if you’re staying a little longer opt for a deluxe apartment. Balcony views and a relaxing spa bath will take your comfort levels to the next level. An outdoor pool means you have a place to relax in between your adventures and excursions. This has to be one of the best hotels in Byron Bay for both location and tranquility.
Grab yourself a room or apartment at Byron Bay Hotel and Apartments and spend some time exploring the Byron Bay coastline this winter.
Click here to book a room or apartment.