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Byron Bay, coolest town in Australia

Byron Bay, coolest town in Australia
Credit : Tourism Australia

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

Did you know? Byron Bay was named after the famous poet Lord Byron. When Captain Cook discovered the bay in 1770, he named Cape Byron in honor of Vice-Admiral John Byron, the grandfather of the renowned 19th-century poet. In the 1970s, the arrival of surfers and hippies breathed new life into this little paradise.

Since then, the reputation of this small town with a hippie spirit, where time seems to slow down, has been well established. The sign at the town’s entrance sets the tone: “Cheer up, slow down, Chill out.” You’re entering the land of good vibes! Forget the stress of big cities, take off your shoes, and let yourself relax.

The town’s main street hosts most of the shops and leads to the beach. In about thirty minutes, you can explore the town center, which mainly consists of small clothing stores and eateries for quick bites. Don’t bother looking; there’s no McDonald’s here.

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 to Byron Bay?

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.

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.

Finally, if you want to go snorkeling, Julian Rocks is a great spot for observing marine life.

Excursions and Activities in Byron Bay

If you wish, you can also enjoy a variety of other activities such as kayaking, surfing, skydiving, diving, or perhaps a hot air balloon ride! Here are the main recommended excursions in the area:

It’s impossible not to mention Nimbin, the Australian hippie capital. Located in the mountains, 70 km from Byron Bay, Nimbin truly came to life in 1973 when it first hosted the Aquarius Festival, a haven of hippie philosophy. Once there, it’s hard not to notice. Although not legal in Australia, there is a high tolerance for cannabis culture, its purchase, sale, and consumption in all the streets of the village. You don’t need to smoke to have a good time in Nimbin; the village itself is quite nice to discover, and the atmosphere is sure to charm you.

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

Tourism Australia

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!

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.

Tourism Australia

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.

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 places 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.

Festivals & Events at Byron Bay

Here’s a brief list of events and festivals that take place in Byron Bay:

  • Splendour in the Grass: This annual music festival is one of Australia’s largest, featuring renowned national and international artists. It usually takes place in July.
  • Byron Bay Bluesfest: Another major music festival, Bluesfest is a must for music lovers. Following a 30-year tradition, the festival occurs over the Easter weekend. For five days (from Thursday to Monday), the town is filled with the sounds of Bluesfest. This event is dedicated to genres like Blues, Jazz, Soul, R&B, Pop, Rock, Metal, Reggae, and more.
  • Byron Bay International Film Festival: This festival showcases independent films, documentaries, and short films from around the world, typically held in October.
  • Byron Writers Festival: For literature enthusiasts, this festival offers lectures, writing workshops, and discussions with famous writers. It takes place annually in August.
  • Byron Bay Surf Festival: Celebrating surf culture, this event features competitions, art exhibitions, concerts, and film screenings. It occurs in February.
  • Byron Bay Film Festival: Another film festival focusing on independent and international films, usually held in October.
  • Festival of the Stone: Organized by Stone & Wood Brewery, this craft beer festival offers beer tastings, live music, and a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Byron Bay Writers’ Festival: A literary event that brings together authors, poets, and journalists for discussions and presentations.
  • Sample Food Festival: This culinary event highlights local producers and offers tastings of dishes and wines. It takes place in September.
  • Byron Latin Fiesta: For dance enthusiasts, this festival offers Latin dance classes, dance performances, and live music. It occurs in November.

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?

Staying in a youth hostel

Several backpackers hostel are well located (less than 5min walk from the beach or the center):

Aquarius Backpacker Hostel: from $30 per night (room of 10)
Nomads Byron Bay: from $30 per night (room of 10)
YHA: from $28 per night for members and $38 without a membership card (room of 9)
Backpackers Inn On the Beach: from $30 per night (room 9)

Staying in a hotel (Mid to High Budget)

When it comes to hotels, you’ll also have plenty of choices to suit every taste!

If you’re looking for luxury, CrystalBrook Byron, surrounded by rainforest, is a delightful and relaxing place. Prices start at $360 per night. Aabi’s at Byron offers luxurious, pleasant villas and is ideally located, with nights starting from $250.

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.

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.

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.

Exploring the region

How can you explore the Byron Bay area?

There are numerous ways to discover the region:

  • Walking: There are many hiking trails in the Byron Bay area, offering panoramic views of the coast and surrounding nature. The Cape Byron trail is popular for its beach and cliff views.
  • Scuba Diving and Snorkeling: The Byron Bay region is renowned for its coral reefs and marine life, providing exceptional opportunities for scuba diving and snorkeling.
  • Bike Tours: Rent a bike to explore the countryside roads and small villages around Byron Bay.
  • Car Tours: Explore the surrounding small villages and national parks such as Minyon Falls and Nightcap National Park, which are discussed further below.
  • Boat Tours: Rent a boat or take a cruise to explore the nearby islands and coves.

Not to be Missed

Killen Falls and Minyon Falls are the most beautiful in the region. To reach the base of Minyon Falls, you’ll pass through a lush rainforest with colorful birds. The view of the waterfall is truly worth it. It’s recommended to visit after rainfall, as the waterfall is much less impressive during dry periods.

Mount Warning is another great hike. Going there for the sunrise is an incredible experience. The hike can be a bit “scary” at night in the middle of the forest, but it’s truly worth it. If you prefer to go during the day, you’ll be just as impressed by the view once you reach the summit. Moreover, the walk through the forest is superb.

Practical Info Byron Bay

Where to park in Byron?

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.

Where to sleep with your van in Byron?

Yelgun rest area located 25km north of Bryon Bay is a good option with water, toilets, barbecue, picnic tables.

Where to swim in Byron Bay?

Byron Bay has many beaches where you can such as Main Beach, Clarkes Beach, Wategos Beach. Always check for the flags and always be cautious.
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