It may be a small country town on the NSW north coast, but it packs in a lot of attractions.
People travel to Byron Bay for all sorts of reasons. It has wonderful beaches, unique shopping and dining experiences and a lively bunch of locals that make it all run smoothly. The most notable attraction is Splendour in the Grass, a world-class music festival which goes off in July. Whatever brings you to the area, here are five wonderful things to do around Byron Bay.
Visit Cape Byron Lighthouse
Cape Byron Lighthouse is one of those attractions you cannot pass up. Everybody has to see it, and for good reason too: this lighthouse is still active, so it makes for great photos like the one above. If you come by on the weekend, expect lively crowds and limited parking. There are entry fees to the national park ($8 p/hr vehicle, $4 p/hr motorcycle), but visiting the exterior of the lighthouse is free. Tours of the inside are also available.
Enjoy some whale spotting
If you’re heading up to Byron Bay during the wintertime, you will have a good chance of spotting whales on the shore, since that’s when these gigantic mammals migrate. There are a handful of vantage points as well, including the Captain Cook Lookout in Byron itself and Skenners Head in the south. You can also book yourself a closer look with a two-hour boat trip off the shore. Just be sure to pack some binoculars!
Trekking around the wild landscape
Slip on some hiking shoes and head outside for a hearty trek. One of the easiest and vibrant treks is to Killen Falls, where you can stand right under the cascading water. There’s also Minyon Falls, a 100-metre drop over rhyolite cliffs that are dotted with eucalyptus trees. There are two ways to enjoy Minyon Falls, one by the vantage point up the top, or by taking a 4-hour trek through the wild bush and seeing it below. The toughest trek around Byron Bay is at Mount Warning, with a worthwhile 360-degree view at the peak. A lighter one is the Three Sisters Track around Broken Head.
Head to the beaches
Byron Bay’s Main Beach is a nice beach to visit, with the added bonus of surrounding restaurants to perk your senses, but don’t just stick to Byron Bay. There’s plenty of coastline in the north and south! Tallon Beach on the south-east of Byron boasts one of the best sunsets and is quite peaceful during the cooler months. The town of Ballina in the south has eight beaches to choose from, with the top spot going to Lighthouse Beach – mostly because of the walk you can do along the adjacent man-made rock wall. Up north, you have Brunswick Heads, which shares their own section of Main Beach and makes for a perfect 13-kilometre walk back to Byron Bay. Go further north and end up at Tweed Heads, which is smack-bang in the middle of the Queensland/NSW border. Duranbah Beach is NSW’s northern-most beach, and if you head up on the headland and take a few steps, you’ll be in a different time zone.
Hot air ballooning
If laborious trekking ain’t your thing, then may I suggest a tranquil morning of hot air ballooning. With the locally-run Byron Bay Ballooning company, you can take to the skies and get a birds-eye-view of the sprawling northern NSW. The going rates are $299 per adult and $175 per child (4-12yrs), which includes a pre-flight briefing, a 1-hour hot air balloon experience, gourmet champagne breakfast and a certificate to commemorate your flight. They also do VIP packages for those who want to spruce up their upcoming date, as well as offering bus transfers for passengers.
Browsing the markets
When it comes to small towns, the best place to experience the local flair is in the markets. And in Byron Bay, there’s a few to choose from. This list will show you the 18 markets that take place every month around the region. There are also several weekly farmers markets for anyone willing to keep the healthy diet going while on holiday. You’d be surprised what you find at the markets, from local arts and crafts to all sorts of trinkets, and even some fresh food to fill that grumbling belly. Not only will you find miscellaneous items, but you could even listen to some local buskers or bands while you enjoy the warming sun.
Tasting local produce
Local produce is the freshest, simply because it doesn’t need to travel far. In Byron Bay, you’ll find all sorts of wonderful local produce, from vegetables to meat, and even unique flavours like craft beer. A wonderful destination to check out is The Farm, a Byron Bay staple with the intention to grow, feed, educate and give back to the community. Get the tour of the sight and see the flora and fauna, regain your sense of smell at the nursery and gorge yourself silly at the Three Ducks Restaurant. There are a few local sellers in the area, so keep a keen eye out for them. Another local producer is the Stone and Wood Brewery, where you can tour the place and enjoy a selection of beer paddles. Cheers!