February 16th, 2024
7 minute read
Byron Bay is a charming surf town on the northeast coast of New South Wales that attracts a huge number of Aussie locals and international travellers. Why do tourists flock to Byron Bay? But the real question is, why would you not want to visit Byron Bay? With golden beaches, pristine surfing waves, stunning coastal walks, and an abundance of marine life, nature lovers will be in heaven here. Or if you're more into culture and shopping, downtown Byron is packed with trendy shops, adorable boutiques, fabulous cafes, colourful street art, and restaurants serving every cuisine imaginable.
To ensure you make the most of your time here, check out our list of the top 10 things to do in Byron Bay!
Whether you're an experienced wave rider or you've never touched a board in your life, Byron Bay is an amazing place to surf! The excellent surf conditions helped put Byron on the map as Aussies and international travellers alike came here to frolic in the ocean. Main Beach, The Pass, and Wategos Beach are three popular surf spots located within walking distance of the town center. Beginners can book a surf lesson so they can try catching their first waves with the help of an experienced local instructor! Confident surfers can head to advanced waves like The Wreck, Tallows Beach, or Broken Head for more of a thrill.
Another one of the top things to do in Byron Bay is visit a local waterfall! The closest and most popular option near Byron Bay is Killen Falls. Located about 30 minutes southwest of the town center, Killen Falls is a gorgeous, serene plunge waterfall where you can swim and explore the nature trails.
Another slightly further option is Minyon Falls. Nestled in the midst of the forest in Nightcap National Park, Minyon Falls has a refreshing pool at the bottom and a picnic area for relaxing. There is also a lookout platform that offers exquisite views of the lush gorges, valleys, and mountains in the distance. Elevate your waterfall experience with a Hinterland tour that includes seeing local glow worm colonies!
No visit to Byron Bay is complete without seeing the Cape Byron Lighthouse! Built at the end of the 19th Century, this historic landmark sits on the most easterly point of Australia's mainland. Not only is the lighthouse itself an impressive sight, the views from the headland are unbelievable. From the rugged coastal cliffs, to the sapphire waters of the Pacific Ocean, to the curving coastline studded with beaches and mountains, the Cape Byron Lighthouse is one of the best lookout spots on the East Coast! Whether you choose to hike up to the lighthouse or drive up, this is easily one of the top Byron Bay attractions.
Located just south of the Byron Bay town center is Arakwal National Park. This protected nature reserve is pretty small as far as Australian national parks go, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in cultural significance, abundant wildlife, and tranquil natural beauty! The park is jointly run by NSW National Parks and the Traditional Owners, the Arakwal Bundjalung People. Learn about the area's history, nature, and culture by joining an Aboriginal Walk and Talk with a Discovery Ranger, or independently try some birdwatching, hiking, or surfing at Tallows Beach.
You're going to need some fuel for all the surfing, hiking, shopping, and sightseeing you're doing in Byron Bay! Luckily, the town has a seemingly endless supply of amazing cafes and restaurants to choose from. From lavish, high-end restaurants to more casual eateries and take-away joints, there is food to suit all tastes and travel budgets. If you need a caffeine hit, stop at one of the many cafes in town and order yourself a classic Aussie flat white! Top Shop Cafe, Folk Byron Bay, and Sparrow Coffee are local favorites.
Or if you're looking to hit the town at night and treat yourself to some cocktails, Byron Bay has amazing nightlife. With the huge backpacker crowd and lots of unique local businesses, there are tons of places to eat, drink, dance, and mingle. From live music venues, to classic Aussie pubs, to cocktail bars and more, live life to the fullest and indulge in Byron Bay's nightlife!
For more recommendations, check out our top picks for where to eat in Byron Bay!
Surfing isn't the only way to spend quality time with the ocean in Byron Bay! The calm, turquoise waters surrounding Byron Bay are perfect for all types of water sports like snorkelling, free diving, paddleboarding, and kayaking!
Kayaking is a favourite among travellers because you can book a tour with a local guide who will lead you around the Cape Byron headland and take you to the coolest spots. There is also a chance you'll get to mingle with some marine life! Dolphins and sea turtles make common appearances during kayak tours, and you may even spot some whales in the distance during the winter months.
You can also go on a guided snorkelling tour of Julian Rocks, one of the best dive sites in Australia! Explore the incredible underwater world of this protected marine sanctuary.
Another one of the top things to do in Byron Bay is shopping! Whether you're treating yourself and you've got cash to blow, or you're a backpacker on a strict budget, Byron Bay has a wide variety of shops to check out. There are designer boutiques, quirky themed stores, affordable second-hand shops like the Industrial Estate, popular chain brands, and more. You can shop till you drop, or just window shop and spend no money at all! Whatever your travel budget may be, definitely spend some time wandering the streets and just browsing through the captivating local stores in Byron Bay.
Visiting The Farm is a unique Byron Bay activity that allows you to get out of the city center and reconnect with nature. It's about 7km from downtown Byron, or a 15-minute drive, so if you don't have your own transport you'll have to Uber. But it's well worth the trip! The Farm is a hub for horticulture and agriculture that focuses on sustainability and education. Join a farm tour so you can learn all about the important work that goes on here! Or wander around on your own and check out the farm animals, plant nursery, florist, bakery, restaurant, and gelato shop on site. This is one of the more unique things to do in Byron Bay!
The best way to soak in all the scenic views and landmarks of Byron Bay is on the Cape Byron Walking Track. This 3.7km loop trail is considered Grade 3, which is pretty challenging. But if you're reasonably fit and you're looking to get some exercise outside in the fresh air, this hike is a must!
The Cape Byron Walking Track winds along the coastline and passes all the main highlights of Byron Bay including The Pass, Wategos Beach, and the Cape Byron Lighthouse. Be on the lookout for whales and dolphins during the winter months! After hiking along the coast, you'll turn inland and weave through the bush until you reach the starting point. This is easily one of the best things to do in Byron Bay for free, especially if you love bushwalking!
Byron Bay is known for its incredible beaches, as most Australian coastal towns are! The entire coastline of Byron is lined with pristine stretches of sand and sea, each with something special to offer. Beaches near the town center, like Main Beach, the Pass, Clarkes Beach, Wategos Beach, and Little Wategos Beach, are conveniently located within walking distance from most Byron Bay accommodations. You may find more crowds here, but the beaches are stunning just the same.
If you have a car or a campervan, head slightly outside the city and find much less crowded beaches like Belongil Beach or Tyagarah Beach. Wherever you choose to hang out, you can swim, sunbathe, snorkel, surf, watch the sunrise or sunset, and just soak in the beauty of Byron's spectacular ocean scenery!