The ultimate Byron Bay travel guide

Broken Head Beach, Byron Bay


Posted May 16, 2024

One of Australia’s most famous beach towns, Byron Bay is synonymous with postcard-perfect beaches, thrilling surf, fabulous eateries, and a creative side that no other Australian beach town can match.

With Ballina and Gold Coast airports close by, you can reach this northern New South Wales haven from Melbourne in just two hours by plane.

The town’s mid-east coast location makes it an ideal getaway for Victorians seeking relaxation, adventure, nature, and delicious food year-round.

Whatever your reason to visit, use this handy guide to plan your perfect holiday to Byron Bay. 

Head on a guided kayak tour in sunny Byron Bay. Image: Destination NSW
Try scuba diving at Julian Rocks in Byron Bay. Image: Destination NSW
Head for a stroll through the Byron Bay town. Image: Destination NSW

Byron Bay’s best beaches

Byron Bay is popular with Australians and international travellers alike, but there's plenty of space for everyone, with long white stretches of sand facing north, south and east. 

Main Beach is right in the town centre, making it ideal for days where you move from cafés to quirky boutiques and the surf with ease.

For one of the area’s most picturesque beaches, Wategos is a firm favourite. Lush headland bush frames this crescent-shaped bay, and the 4km long Cape Byron Walking Track runs along the rear of the beach. Be sure to hike to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse for spectacular views, where you can watch for dolphins in the distance.

For peaceful sunbathing, choose the more secluded Tallow Beach, south of Byron Bay (it’s great for bird watching), or Seven Mile Beach, which connects Lennox Head to Broken Head. The former is great for a surf lesson, while the latter is perfect for a leisurely beach walk.

Byron Bay's water adventures

Byron Bay’s coastal location means adventures on or in the water are possible year-round.

Dolphin spotting from the local beaches is a wonderfully common experience, or you can even book a dolphin kayaking tour to experience the playfulness of these beloved aquatic mammals up close.

If you’re visiting between May and November, you may even get to witness the great migration of the humpback whales. Whale-watching boat trips get you respectfully close to these gentle giants.

For snorkellers and scuba divers, the 4,000-hectare Julian Rocks Marine Reserve (Nguthungulli) has vibrant coral and fascinating marine species, including leopard sharks and turtles. The Arakwal Peoples have several fascinating Dreamtime stories connected to the islets here.

For a more tranquil experience, Ballina has a river cruise. Enjoy a glass of bubbly as the sun sets over the nearby coastal island.  

From November to February, turtles nest along Byron Bay’s beaches, and there are educational tours that give you insight into the nesting and hatching process. 


Cape Bryon light house

The Cape Byron Walking Track takes you to the lighthouse for spectacular views. Credit: Destination NSW

Byron Bay's wildlife and natural attractions

Nature and wildlife are not limited to the waters around Byron Bay; the lush rainforests and hinterland also hold appeal.

The 180-million-year-old World Heritage-listed Gondwana National Park covers this region of northern New South Wales, including both the Border Ranges and Nightcap National Parks. The latter’s Minyan Falls Walking Track, which takes about three and half hours to walk, is one of the most rewarding in the area.

If you would prefer not to leave your wildlife encounters to chance, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (close to Gold Coast Airport) is one of the best places to enjoy native Australian animals up close. Alternatively, the Byron Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (formerly Macadamia Castle) is ideal for families.

Best places to eat and drink in Byron Bay

Visitors come to Bryon Bay as much for the food as the broad beaches and quirky town vibes, where healthy food cafés sit alongside restaurants serving giant burritos. Fine dining is as commonplace as cheap eats, and farm-to-table goodness has made its mark on the Byron Bay culinary scene.

Although there are new places opening frequently, there are also some standout spots to try while you’re in town. For your morning caffeine fix, Sparrow is a local favourite in the heart of Byron.

Lunch at Barrio introduces you to great food and Byron’s Arts and Industry Estate, while the Main Street Burger Bar Byron Bay includes a varied menu from the Troppo Chook to the Teriyaki Fish. For more vegan treats, No Bones Byron will not disappoint.

If whetting your whistle is more your scene, jump aboard a tour around Byron’s breweries and distilleries, and enjoy tastings of gin, rum, beer and cider along with a variety of food samples.   

If you’ve got transport, you won’t regret heading to Three Blue Ducks, an 80-acre farm and macadamia orchard that has delicious local produce. For dinner, Karkalla celebrates native, local and seasonal ingredients, blending bush tucker with modern flavours in the heart of Byron.


Wategos Beach, Byron Bay

Wategos Beach is Byron Bay's most popular beach, but there are secluded beaches too. Credit: Destination NSW

Best day trips from Byron Bay

For a change of atmosphere, enjoy a fabulous day trip to nearby towns and landmarks. For two of northern New South Wales’ most alternative towns, visit Nimbin and Mullumbimby. Colourful murals, quirky stores, quaint cafes, and vibrant markets await.

The historic town of Bangalow is only a 15-minute drive from Byron Bay. Boutique shopping, intriguing galleries, and excellent dining options make for a great stop as you explore the area.

Experience a unique Australian attraction at Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens. Colossal crystals, Zen-like gardens, and sweeping hinterland views make this a serene alternative to the bustle of Byron Bay.

Annual events in and around Byron Bay

If you love timing your holidays to coincide with local events, Byron Bay has plenty to offer.

One of Australia’s premier musical festivals, the Byron Bay Bluesfest presents an impressive lineup of blues and roots artists every Easter. Splendour in the Grass also packs a punch with its diverse lineup and creative installations every July.

Inland, the smaller Mullum Music Festival and Bangalow Music Festival are more intimate gatherings in hinterland settings.

For creative types, the Byron Writers Festival is a literary powerhouse, held every August, while the annual October Byron Bay International Film Festival presents shorts, documentaries, and feature films to inspire deep thought and conversation.

Other noteworthy events include the Byron Bay Surf Festival (February), Bryon Bay Craft Beer Festival (October), Byron Bay Triathlon (May) and the quirky Ballina Prawn Festival (November). 


Cape Byron Walking Track Byron Bay

Take a leisurely walk to Cape Byron. Image: Destination NSW

Transport and accommodation in Byron Bay

Travelling from Melbourne to the nearby Ballina or Gold Coast airports is easy, with several flights a week on offer. There are regular shuttles from both airports to Byron, making its easy to explore the town without your own transport.

However, if you plan on heading into the hinterland or national parks, you can visit the Big Things on the east coast drive from Melbourne to the coast, or on arrival, rent a carcampervan or RV for the freedom you seek.

For more organised travel, consider booking local tours, or even join a group tour.

Byron Bay has a range of accommodation offerings, from budget to luxury, including a wellness-focused stay.


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