If you’re coming to Byron Bay you’re probably thinking you’ll spend your days sunbathing or surfing. Well, yes you can do that and many people do, but there are lots of other things to do in Byron Bay, places to see, history, events and all that jazz in addition to surfing and sunbathing. That got me thinking, seeing as I was born in Byron Bay, my mum was born here and my grandmother was born here, who better than me to write about the top things to do in my home town?
Byron Bay: Why is it so special?
Let’s start with a bit of history… Byron Bay was famous in the 1960’s for 3 things – whaling, meat and surfing. Byron Bay had a whaling station right on the Main Beach where the locals would stand on the wharf and watch humpback whales being brought in to slaughter for their oil and blubber. Later the whaling station was turned into a meat works and eventually closed altogether. Tourists can now enjoy seeing the very much alive whales (and lots of dolphins too) during their migration along the coast.
Surfing has long brought visitors from far and wide to the aqua blue shores of Byron Bay, thanks to the 7 major breaks. No matter what the weather, there is always a wave in Byron Bay. To this day it remains one of the most popular and well known surf spots in Australia and overseas. You haven’t surfed until you’ve surfed Byron man!
In addition to the beautiful beaches this town has to offer, where you can spend the days lazing the hours away, Byron Bay is only a half hour drive from beautiful rainforest regions overflowing with Australian flora and fauna, complete with cascading waterfalls, bubbling brooks, acres of rolling hills and small country towns with big character (like Nimbin or Mullumbimby).
As you can see there are a ridiculous number of things to do in Byron Bay but here are my personal favourites…
Top 10 Things to Do in Byron Bay
1. Watch the sunrise from Byron Bay Lighthouse
The Lighthouse is located upon Australia’s most easterly point and the views are amazing! The walking trail from Byron Bay’s Main Beach to the Lighthouse will take you around 45 minutes each way. Tip: on the way back down, take a slight detour to Fisherman’s Lookout where you can watch the morning surfers hitting the waves at The Pass.
2. Explore Byron’s lesser known beaches
There’s no doubt that Byron Bay’s Main Beach is an attraction within itself, but Byron Bay’s surrounding beaches are where the locals go and are well worth a visit. Some of Byron Bay’s best surf beaches are just a short (relatively) stroll away. Tip: if you are planning on taking the Byron Lighthouse walk, pack a day bag and explore some of the beaches that are accessible from the main track. My favourites? Wategos Beach and Tallows Beach.
3. Take a surf lesson
No visit to Byron Bay is complete without at least attempting to stand up on a surfboard. There are loads of different surfing tours available in Byron Bay that cater for beginners, from 2 hour lessons to weekend getaways. Consider yourself a pro? You can pick up a rental board and wetsuit from one of the shops in the main street, or possibly even from your hostel.
4. Take a kayak trip and paddle next to a school of dolphins
After surfing a kayaking trip is way up there on the list of the best things to do in Byron Bay. Not only are you extremely likely to see dolphins, from May to October you may even be lucky enough and have a humpback whale pop up next to you! It’s been over 40 yrs since they were hunted in this area and they now use the protection of the bay as a place to chill out with their young and scratch their bellies on the shallows. Surf Kayaking may sound a little scary, but as soon as you get over those first few waves it’s smooth sailing.
5. Go on a day trip to Nimbin
Nimbin is totally stuck in the ’60s. A unique village well known for its – umm, let’s just say “funny smelling cigarettes.” Many of the Nimbin tours also offer the opportunity to explore the surrounding Byron Bay hinterland. One of my favourite little hot spots? Minyon Falls – perfect for a refreshing dip on a hot summer’s day.
6. Hit the local markets
We sure are a creative bunch here in Byron Bay and where there’s creativity there are markets. There are loads of different markets to explore in the Byron region. Some of the most regular markets are: Byron Bay Artisan Market (October to March, every Saturday night), Byron Bay Markets (first Sunday of every month) & Byron Bay Farmer’s Market (every Thursday morning).
7. Scuba dive or snorkel at Julian Rocks
One of the premier diving destinations in Australia. Julian Rocks is a protected reserve for the gentle natured Grey Nurse Shark and is therefore a great place to look out for Sea Turtles and 500 species of fish! You can choose from an Intro Dive, a Certified Dive or a Snorkel tour.
8. Get a Massage or some Crystal Healing
If you really want to get into the Byron Bay swing of things get a massage and float away the afternoon… ahhhhh (I recommend seeing Denise at The Arts Factory for all your massage, reiki and crystal healing needs).
9. Hire a bike
One of the cheapest ways to explore Byron’s outer beaches and rainforest. There are many bike trails that begin from the town centre of Byron Bay and you can pick up a bike rental from $10 a day. Cheap as chips! If you are looking for a little bit of action, there are also coastal and rainforest Mountain Bike Tours available.
10. Party the night away at any of Byron’s nightspots
Byron may be small but there are loads of really great pubs and clubs in town. We love our live music and no matter what night of the week it is, you are pretty certain to catch some local talent. Make sure you visit these 5 places to grab a beer or cider in Byron Bay.
Events – Don’t forget that Byron Bay is also famous for the Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay Writers Festival, Byron Bay Triathlon and Ocean Swim, Byron Bay Malibu Classic… oh, need I go on? Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Come and stay with us and experience all the amazing things to do in Byron Bay that this beautiful town has to offer!