Experience Byron Bay the Local Way
You may be visiting Byron Bay for the region’s beautiful beaches, but the popular North Coast holiday destination has many other secrets to divulge. Whale watching, weekly markets, coastal walks and National Park expeditions steeped in history: Byron Bay, only 165km from Brisbane, offers activities for families, groups and couples. To fully immerse yourself in this beach-town-turned-culture-hub’s daily life, a wide range of accommodation options are available, from quaint cottages to self-contained beach houses and waterfront apartments.
Popular Beaches In and Around Byron Bay
Byron Bay harbour some undeniably breathtaking beaches, each of which boasts distinct character and charm. Surfers will find themselves at home at The Pass, forming the end of Clarkes Beach. The Pass is also a prime spot to learn how to surf, as are Main and Clarkes Beaches. However, if you’re travelling with the kids, you may be seeking calmer waves: head to leafy Brunswick Heads, a 15-minute drive from Byron Bay. If you don’t want to drive, Byron Bay’s Main Beach is also quite family friendly and patrolled throughout the summer.
Whale and Dolphin Watching Tours Departing from Byron Bay
Families and groups will enjoy whale watching in Byron Bay between June and November. Whale Watching Byron Bay is the only tour operator to depart directly from Byron Bay and prides itself on small group tours, guaranteed whale sightings and the presence of a qualified whale researcher on most tours. A percentage of your fare also goes to promoting whale welfare. Alternately, rent a kayak with Go Sea Kayak and make your own way out to see dolphins and whales in their natural habitat as part of a supervised tour.
Byron Bay’s Shopping and Dining Scene
When you’re ready to take a break from Byron Bay’s sea-based activities, indulge in a little retail therapy or discover some of this coastal town’s favourite eateries. On the first Sunday of every month, the Butler Street Reserve houses a crafts market, a great spot to pick up some locally made souvenirs. You can also visit Railway Park on Saturday nights and stroll through the artisan’s market. And if you’d like to cook on holiday, be sure to incorporate the first Sunday of each month into your trip, as the Butler Street Reserve hosts a farmers market with over 70 stalls of local produce.
Byron Bay’s dining scene is quite varied, with options catering to all tastes. Buddha Bar and Restaurant in the Byron Bay Premium Brewery serves affordable meals, including its famous curries, and quite the selection of drinks. There are hamburgers for the kids and boutique beers for the adults. Another great Byron Bay restaurant is Byron Beach Café, situated right on the waterfront at Clarkes Beach. Enjoy food produced from local ingredients and sumptuous ocean and mountain views. (Please remember bookings are essential.)
Beyond Byron Bay: History and Culture
As would suit a town whose streets are named after English writers and poets, you only have to scratch the surface to leave Byron Bay beach culture behind. Be sure to visit the Lighthouse at the Cape Byron Headland Reserve, which you can even access on foot or by bicycle. The Lighthouse, built at the turn of the twentieth century, is now registered as a National Estate. Featuring a scenic, rugged ocean outlook, visitors can’t miss this historical treasure. Interested in Aboriginal history? You’ll enjoy a trip to Palm Valley, also within the Cape Byron Headland Reserve, which boasts a 1000-year old midden (the oldest in the region) where Aborigines ate and camped.
For art galleries near your holiday accommodation, take a ten-minute drive out of Byron Bay to trendy Bangalow. The village’s main street is a treasure trove of unique finds. Family-run, award-winning Town Café is the perfect place to sit back and people watch. On the way to Bangalow, you’ll pass Clunes, a tiny village oozing period charm and lined by early churches. Stroll the streets for a romantic afternoon- or simply to escape the bustling beachfront.
When to Visit Byron Bay
Byron Bay benefits from a mild climate (highs reach 19C in the winter and 27C in the summer), so this Northern Rivers hotspot is ideal for year-round travel. The optimal time to visit Byron Bay truly depends on what you want to see and do, as activities such as whale watching are seasonal. But regardless of when you choose to discover Byron Bay, you’ll experience a vibrant coastal town against a stunning ocean and mountain backdrop.