If you are willing to go on a road trip on the east coast, unmissable spots aren’t lacking from Brisbane to Sydney : wild or urban, forests, mountains as far as the eye can see and heavenly beaches... Among them, Byron Bay, small piece of paradise situated 2 hours away from Brisbane and 10 hours away from Sydney wins our heart.
Byron Bay, city with good aura
The reputation of this little hippy and out of time city isn’t to be made. Tone is set as soon as you drive past the entry sign “Cheer up, slow down, chill out!”. You are walking into a chilled country where stress has been given up. Take your shoes off and let go.
The main street is where most shops are gathered and takes you directly to the beach. In 30 minutes you will have been around the centre composed mainly of hippies and surfers shop and little cafes. Don’t look for a Mc Donald’s, there is none.
There is something special and positive in the atmosphere. People are walking with no shoes on and couples kiss everywhere in the street. You won’t be able to count campervans going pass you with surfboard on top and mattress at the back.
At the end of the main street, at the Wreck Lockout, you can enjoy a stunning view over the beach and mountains. This little square is a meeting point for musicians, couples and groups of friends particularly around Sunset.
The main beach, reputed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, gathers locals and tourists from morning to night: yoga lessons, capoeira trainings, fire dancers occupy the space. As well as most Australian beaches, sand is thin and the surf is great.
When and how to visit Byron?
How to get there?
Byron Bay is located in the north of the state of New South Wales, about 800 km north of Sydney and 175 km south of Brisbane. Nestled just off the Pacific Highway, Byron Bay is easily accessible by car and bus. Greyhound or Premier buses stop here several times a day. Greyhound bus: Sydney – Byron Bay $99 Byron Easy bus: Brisbane – Byron Bay $54
From Brisbane, you can take one of the shuttles (Byron Easy Bus, for example) which will take you directly to Byron Bay.
By car: Take the Pacific Highway A1 to reach Byron.
By plane: you can land at Ballina (30min south of Byron) or Collangata (45min north of Byron). From these cities, you will easily find transfers to Byron Bay.
Once you arrive at Byron, you will have to park. The main parking lot in town is just before the beach but it will cost you around $10 for the afternoon. Free parking is located just outside the city and in less than 5min you will have reached the center. In summer, it will be more difficult for you to find a spot, arrive early in the morning if you can.
Best time to visit Byron Bay
The area enjoys a subtropical climate with mild winters and hot summers. It often rains on summer evenings which cools the air. Thanks to this mix of sun and rain, the region offers lush and green landscapes. Basically, you can visit Byron Bay and its area all year round. However, for nice temperatures and to be able to swim in the ocean, prefer summer!
In summer temperatures range from 20 (morning) to 28°C (afternoon) and in winter temperatures range from 12 (morning) to 20°C (afternoon). Also, if you want to observe the migration of humpback whales, be there between the months of June and October… that is to say during the winter months.
What to do in Byron Bay?
To discover Byron, allow 2 days. Even if the center of the city is small, spending 1 or 2 days there allows you to enjoy Byron Bay and its area. Here are the main points of interest that we recommend for your stay.
Walks and Beaches
When you live near the ocean, walks on the beach are part of your everyday life. From Tallows Beach, you can stroll for miles to Broken Head, a quiet place away from the crowds.
Another superb walk is to go from the Pass (famous surf spot) to Wategos beach. On the way, take a coffee break at the blue VW Combi before heading to the lighthouse.
Byron’s Main beach is also a great place to relax, however it is usually crowded, especially in summer.
Discover the sealife
Just 2.5 km from Byron is the Julian Rocks Marine Reserve. This site is special because it is here that tropical and temperate waters meet. This attracts thousands of marine species like turtles, leopard sharks, manta rays, whales and various varieties of fish. In mask and snorkel or scuba diving, the show is worth the trip!
Byron’s lighthouse and its amazing view
A few kilometres away from the town centre, at the top of the hill, Byron’s lighthouse dominates the town and offers a stunning view over the ocean and surroundings. You are at the most eastern point of Australia; from each side you can see wild landscapes. There are amazing beaches: Tallow beach south, Clarkes beach and Wategos beach east, surrounded by forests and blue mountains.
From this point of view, you can look for dolphins, turtles, manta rays and other marine creatures. From May to November, during the migration period, you might get lucky and see a whale.
You can go directly to the lighthouse by car (be careful, you will have to pay for the carpark) or walk there for around 2h and 3.7km through the Cape Byron State Conservation Area and its rainforest. Allow 2/3 hours to do the whole tour. It is a fairly difficult walk so don’t forget to take plenty of water and a hat. For more info: www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
Watch the sunset
After a busy day, relax watching the sunset at The Wreck. During the Sunset drum circle, people gather around percussion and dance to the rhythm of djembes and other instruments. Everyone can participate whether by dancing or by bringing their instrument. Such a cool vibe to end your day!
Street art in Byron Bay
You will quickly realize that creativity is everywhere in Byron Bay. Many artists also draw great inspiration from it and this is also reflected on the walls. In the evening, many artists showcase their talents through magnificent works of street art.
Byron Bay markets
Each week it is possible to go to a few markets in Byron Bay to get some fresh fruits and veggies or to bring back a little souvenir full of Byron’s vibes.
Byron Bay’s Community Market: one of the most reputed and biggest of the area. Over a few hectares, discover handmade work, jewellery, fresh local products and art of all kind.
Butler Street, every first Sunday of the month.
Byron Bay Farmer’s Market: local producer, bio or not. Products vary depending on the season but you will find all year long, macadamia nuts, cane sugar, beef, prawns, olives, etc.
Butler Street, every Thursday from 8am to 10am.
Byron Bay Artisan Market: Night market from October to March. Good opportunity to discover the local culture: music, food, art, etc. Very good atmosphere, it is the perfect moment to get into Byron’s vibes.
Relax in Byron Bay
Located in the basin of an ancient volcano, black obsidian is everywhere in Byron Bay and according to some, is a source of a powerful energy force. Byron was also the place of sacred rituals and healing for the early Aboriginals. Today, many naturopaths, mediums, healers and therapists have settled in the city. Meditation, aromatherapy and art therapy workshops are also offered. Fans of massages and wraps will also find their happiness in Byron Bay.
Excursions and activities in Byron
If you wish, you can also enjoy a lot of other activities such as kayaking, surfing, parachute jumping, diving, or why not a little hot air balloon ride! Here are the main recommended excursions in the region:
- 2 hour surf lesson in a small group ($65)
- Skydive (from $300)
- Take a stand-up paddle lesson (from $70)
- Spend a day in the hinterland. Here you can visit a hidden rainforest temple, jump off a cliff or simply enjoy a swim in a waterfall. You’ll even discover glowworms in a magical cave while listening to sacred flute music!
- Impossible not to mention Nimbin, the Australian hippie capital. Located in the middle of the mountains, 70 km from Byron Bay, Nimbin really came into being in 1973 when it first hosted the Aquarius Festival, a temple of hippie philosophy. Once there, it’s hard not to notice. Although it is not legal in Australia, there is a high tolerance for the cultivation of cannabis, its purchase, sale and consumption on all the streets of the village. No need to smoke to have a good time in Nimbin, the village itself is quite nice to discover and the atmosphere that reigns there can only seduce.
Where to go out in Byron Bay?
Once the sun goes down, the day continues. Whatever your wish for dinner, you will find everything on Bay Lane, Jonson or Fletcher Street. With new restaurants opening frequently, your taste buds will never be bored.
There is always something going on in Byron Bay. Talented musicians from all over the world play on Jonson Street or in one of the city’s cafes. Every evening, you can attend free live concerts at the Rails. On Fridays, if you feel like dancing to electronic music, The Northern is your best bet.
Main spots to go out
- The Beach Hotel: nice place to have a beer between friends where surfers, locals, tourists, and backpackers mix.
- The Railway Friendly Bar: old railway station, the bar is well known by locals. The Aussie atmosphere will surprise you.
- Cocomangas: it is THE night club of Byron Bay. You can’t miss it, it is on the main road.
- Cheeky Monkeys: this bar-restaurant is well known by backpackers for its interesting prices from 7pm. Theme nights are organised every night.
Events at Byron Bay
Every year since 1990 Byron Bay has hosted the Bluesfest. As has been the tradition for 30 years, the festival takes place during the Easter weekend. For 5 days (from Thursday to Monday) the city is lulled by the decibels of the BluesFest. This event is dedicated to music styles: Blues, Jazz, Soul, R&B, Pop, Rock, Metal, Reggae…
The number of people going to the festival is growing every year. The variety of musical styles makes it possible to address a wide audience. The atmosphere of the festival is intergenerational and will appeal to adults and children alike. This is the perfect opportunity to make new friends who share your musical tastes!
Art and Culture
In Byron Bay, you can easily fill your days with all kinds of activities. Surfing obviously comes first, as you will find good waves for all levels all year round. Yoga is also important in the region, you will find yoga classes everywhere and especially on the beach.
If you have an artistic bent, and even if you think you don’t, Byron Bay is the place for you. Guests can take part in painting or dancing lessons in the industrial area. At Byron everyone is a bit of an artist, so it’s easier to get inspired and let your creativity run wild. Why not try something new at the Byron Bay Community Centre? They offer a wide choice of affordable courses (on photography, gardening, etc.).
Where to stay in Byron Bay?
Renting out a place
Staying in Byron Bay comes at a price. Rent prices have exploded in recent years, especially since the Airbnb boom.
See here the price ranges in the area.
- A room in a shared house in town, plan around $200-250 a week.
- Rent a house with 2 bedrooms, the rent will be around $600 per week.
- For 3 bedrooms: $715 per week
- Finally for 4 bedrooms count $900 per week.
Staying in a hostel
Several backpackers hostel are well located (less than 5min walk from the beach or the center):
Aquarius Backpacker Hostel: from $40 per night (room of 10)
Nomads Byron Bay: from $35 per night (room of 10)
YHA: from $35 per night for members and $38 without a membership card (room of 9)
Backpackersinn: from $30 per night (room of 9)
Backpackers Inn On the Beach: from $35 per night (room 9)
Staying at a Campsite / in your van
For those who want to sleep in their vehicle for free, the Yelgun rest area 25km north of Bryon Bay is a good option. You will have access to water, toilets, barbecue, picnic tables, and can enjoy coffee and pastries sold on site by a traveling coffee vendor in the early morning.
Buying a property
Buying a property in Byron Bay has become almost impossible for someone with an average income. It is rumored that the more affluent couples and families from Sydney and Melbourne who have moved to Byron are behind this sharp rise in prices in the housing market.
To buy a 3-bedroom house, count around $1,400,000. For 4 bedrooms, prices start at $1,625,000.
If you don’t mind biking or driving to town, but still want to live near the beach, the Suffolk and Sunrise neighborhoods are your best bet. A good alternative is to live in the nearby towns of Lennox Head or Brunswick Head. Housing is not only more affordable, but these cities are also quieter and less touristy. You can easily drive to Byron in 10 minutes.