Byron Bay is one of the most popular spots along the entire Australian east coast. Renowned for decades as one of the happiest and hippiest nooks of the country, thanks to it also being home to some fantastic surfing spots, it boasts several extremely picturesque beaches and a relaxed yet effervescent vibe. The laidback lifestyle, myriad of activities and utterly stunning setting make it a mecca for local and international visitors all year long.
Byron is only an hour’s drive away from the Gold Coast and is, by far, the most popular day-trip destination of all. Organise a hire car pick up from the Gold Coast airport and you could have the enviable chance to spend a day surfing, swimming, snorkelling, shopping and people watching in one of the most revered beaches in Australia.
How to get to Byron Bay
Byron is just a few kilometres off the Pacific Highway, about a 40 minute drive south of the Gold Coast airport. Follow the signs and turn left onto Ewingsdale Road, which will take you straight into the centre of town. The drive itself is very enjoyable as it winds its way through sugar cane plantations and luscious forests of the Tweed Valley. Parking in Byron is plentiful, but we suggest you find a parking station for the day for security and convenience.
What to see and do in Byron Bay
Byron Lighthouse: you’ll find Byron’s most iconic site atop a jutting cliff on Cape Byron, the most eastern point in Australia. This is the best spot from where you can watch humpback whales migrating in season (September and October) and is one of the most breathtaking viewpoints in the entire northern NSW coastline. The walk from town is spectacular as it meanders through forests and gifts simply stunning coastal views at every turn. The walk is invigorating but can be a little tough going in some uphill parts.
Shopping: Jonson and Lawson streets are Byron’s main shopping strips, brimming with unique shops and boutiques specialising in trendy swim wear, house wares, clothing and accessories.
Scuba diving and snorkelling: Byron is known for its underwater treasures, all of which are superbly easy to admire on a scuba diving or snorkelling excursion. Head to the Byron Bay Dive Centre on Marvell st. and book a visit to Julian Rocks, a splendid and easy to access site just a few minutes off the Byron shores. There are over 400 different species of marine life living and thriving in these waters, including turtles, manta rays and grey nurse sharks.
Surfing & swimming: warm waters and wicked surf breaks are what have made Byron Bay a household name for surfers the world over. Byron Main, the beach directly in front of the town centre, is the most popular beach of all; followed closely by Watego and Tallow. Surfboards can be rented right on the beach and lessons booked through one of the many operators along the coastal strip. All the beaches are also great for swimming but only Main is patrolled by lifesavers all season long. Watego’s is particularly revered by families, due to it having the calmest waters of all. Should you happen to favour nude bathing then head to Belongil Beach…where you can let it all hang out!
Hot air ballooning: arguably the most exhilarating and unforgettable activity you could ever hope to do whilst visiting Byron Bay. Admiring the magnificent coastal and hinterland views, while soaring high in the sky aboard a gliding balloon, is the stuff of which dreams are made! Byron Bay Ballooning offers an absolutely dreamy one hour sunrise flight which includes a champagne breakfast upon landing. Of course this would require either an overnight stay in town or an especially early start from the Gold Coast.
Visit a local brewery: spend a few hours visiting the Stone and Wood Brewery and take advantage of a free tour, complimentary beer tasting and gain an interesting insight into the brewing process. What more could you ask for on a hot summer afternoon in Byron?! You’ll find Stone and Wood on Boronia Place, just off Sunrise Boulevarde.
Visit the Byron Bay Golf Course: Byron is home to a superb course which also boasts a great restaurant and bar. Come for a game, a delectable meal or delicious sundowner if you want to relax in delightful and serene surroundings.
Go for a horse ride: if you want to experience Byron from a different perspective, then head to the Seahorse Riding Centre where the helpful and professional staff will help you choose the course, and horse, that’s right for you. Short and long rides are available on different terrain; all of which will gift you the chance to discover some of the most pristine and awe-inspiring landscapes in and around Byron. Book the inspiring 7mile beach ride and have the chance to swim in the sea with your horse at the end of your ride…while the staff prepares a mouth-watering BBQ on the beach for dinner!
Take the kids to Circus Arts: if you’re travelling with children you will certainly find Byron to be an ideal day trip destination. Aside the numerous playgrounds and activities on offer for kids of all ages, you’ll also discover Circus Arts, a truly amazing place where you kids can unleash their inner acrobats and have fun whilst getting plenty of energy-zapping exercise. Between the indoor climbing wall, high-flying trapeze, juggle and hula hoop classes, you’ll find plenty here to keep the young ones entertained for hours on end.
Sundowners at the Byron Bay Beach Hotel: whatever you do, don’t miss the chance to enjoy your last meal and drink in Byron at the town’s iconic seaside pub. Always lively and enticing, the Beach Hotel epitomises all that is so enticingly Aussie. Great food, top beers and a vibrant atmosphere makes this the absolute top-notch spot to rest and relax after a full day out and about.