Heading to Byron Bay this year? Well if you are I’ve got a great bunch of Things to Do in Byron Bay in 2019 right here! PS. I’m extremely jealous and hate you a little at the moment.
As we crossed the border from Queensland to New South Wales we could hardly believe that we were heading into the last week of our road trip. We had spent the three weeks before this one exploring the beauty of the Australian East Coast. From golden beaches longer than you can imagine, 92% silica sand, floated in freshwater lakes and danced in breathtaking waterfalls. So as we approach our last leg or the trip, I had one question on my mind, can this possibly get any better?
From the moment that we joined the queue of rusty old camper vans, yes I was lusting over each one, Byron Bay captured my heart almost instantaneously. Famous for being one of Australia’s most sought after backpacking destinations I was a little dubious to how I’d like Byron Bay. I had imagined a town bursting with students and eighteen-year-old brits knocking back too much goon on the beach! Whilst, of course, there was some of that I was greeted completely by surprised as we drove through the town taking in the sights we were greeted with. From young families, students newlyweds to retirees, it appeared that nobody would be stuck for things to do in Byron Bay this year (or any year), no matter how candles you blew out on your last birthday.
In this post, I want to chat about all the remarkable things to do in Byron Bay in 2019. Because this surfer town, believe it or not, has so much more to do than surf! Whether you’re into lazing around on the picture-perfect beaches to hiking through the hinterland, Byron Bay has you covered. You even might be lucky enough to meet some of the locals (No I’m not talking about the local guitarist either!)
Things to Do in Byron Bay!
Cape Byron Light House Walk
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (thank you) then you’ll know that as well as being a beach babe I love being active! Growing up in Sheffield in the UK hiking is a way of life for us in the Peak District so any chance for a good walk to keep the muscles going, I’m in! My favourite way to explore a new place is on foot, that way you don’t whizz past anything incredible by accident! So we knew immediately that we would tackle the Cape Byron Light House Walk! If you’re in good shape/active, I say this because there are a fair few steep hills on this trail, then you must do the lighthouse walk! You are seriously missing out on some of the best views that Byron has to offer if you don’t do it – It just isn’t an option right?
The Cape Byron Light House walk is a 3.7-kilometre walk and will take anything from 1-3 hours, but plan for the latter because you’ll be stopping a lot to take in the scenery. The walk starts from the bay but you can choose various starting points whether it’s from the beach or the real start of the trail! We started at the trail because we walked from the campsite (which took our walk up to about 5 kilometre’s, cue one very sweaty couple!). You can check out this website for the official trail route, maps and tonnes of information about the walk. As you make your way up to the lighthouse, an architectural wonder itself, you stroll along beaches, clifftops, bush walkways, rainforests and even a café/bar if you fancy a beer or wine to get you up those hills!
As if the natural beauty of the walk wasn’t enough you’ll also get to see some epic landmarks too! Like, did you know that Byron Bay is home to the most easterly point in Australia? Well you do now and you’re going to walk straight through it (and take an obligatory photograph of course!) And to top it all of you’ll get to meet some of the locals too.
I think that’s what made this walk so magical for me was the wild and sea life we were lucky enough to spot! As much as we enjoyed spending time at Australia Zoo it’s always a magical feeling when you see animals in their natural habitat, which is exactly where they should be. During our hike we got to see not one but TWO pods of dolphins, a lizard that totally freaked me out because it looked like a snake with feet (see photograph below!) and little did we know that Byron Bay would be the place that we spotted a Koala in the wild, which if you’ve been to Australia you’ll know they can be hard buggers to spot!
I may be a little biased because of the blissful weather we had and the wild and marine life we got to see but the Cape Byron Walk has to be on the top of your list of things to do in Byron Bay! But if you are unable to make the walk due to health reasons or you simply can’t be arsed then at least take a drive up to the lighthouse as the views really are breathtaking and this is where we spotted our pods of dolphins!
Close your eyes and imagine a rainbow coloured street, rainbow-painted houses, shops, public toilets you name it, everywhere is painted the colours of the rainbow. Imagine vintage shops lining the streets and shops so full that whatever they are selling is spilling out of every nook and cranny, there’s a certain smell in the air, not dirty but definitely not clean either. And if you’re really creative you might even imagine being asked if you’d like to try one of Nimbin’s speciality cookies on several occasions as you walk down the street mesmerised by what you’re witnessing before your eyes.
If you’ve already been to Nimbin then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about! When you visit Byron Bay you have to take a drive up to see it, a tiny rainbow-infused town nestled in the hills of the hinterland.
About an hour or so inland from Byron Bay is the town where people sell you weed on the streets and offer you cookies, yep you guess it full of weed as well. For the locals, it’s their way of life and probably really normal but it’s something I haven’t experienced too much of – very hard to write this without sounding like a total snob (Which I really am not!). If I could explain Nimbin to you it’s the exact definition of free-spirited land hippy living. I guess Nimbin is what I expected Byron Bay to be like. Which if you’ve ever visited both places you’ll know how different they really are!
Nimbin does have some cool history to it though from logging to festival-goers taking up camp in the 1970s. But I’m not going to talk about that here because this post is about things to do in Byron Bay! But you can head to this website to find out more about the history of Nimbin. If you don’t particularly want to visit Nimbin then I’m telling you it’s worth it for the views of the hinterland that surround the area, full of grassy hills and mountains it’s worth the drive out there! There are various fun tours that leave from Byron Bay, Happy Coach being one of the most popular, which you can take a look at here!
Fisherman’s Lookout at The Pass
We arrived in Byron Bay late afternoon on our first day so we decided to head to the main beach and take a stroll and boy am I glad we did! What was meant to be a short walk for some fresh sea air and to get the sand between our toes again turned out to be major beach exploration! We ended up walking a good length of the beach from main, all the way down to The Pass. The Pass is one of the most famous places in Byron Bay to surf but the waves were tame so the beach luckily for us was tame too. If you are heading to Byron Bay in the summer be mindful that this section of the beach will be jam-packed! That said it’s still worth a visit just to see Fisherman’s Lookout.
You won’t be able to miss Fisherman’s Lookout, sometimes called staircase rock when you reach The Pass! The lookout is a rock formation that looks back on Byron Bay and out into the glittering ocean and is simply stunning. The lookout is a natural landmark made from rocks that have been formed over the years. Make your way up the rickety steps and take it all in!
Visit the Byron Bay Markets
One of the things I adore about Byron Bay is its vintage chic feel. From the shops to the people Byron is full of a hippie, free-spirited and relaxed vibe. It even comes through in some of the shops you visit and the markets in Byron Bay are incredible! Byron Bay has markets twice a week and extra ones dotted around the year, so you’ll no doubt stumble upon one or two no matter when you visit! We were lucky enough to be in town during the Twilight Markets which are held every Saturday from October to Easter.
These markets gave us everything from glorious food to some talented local artists, photographers, dressmakers and heaps more! Byron Bay also holds a large flea market full of everything you can think of every second Saturday! You can check out this website for a list of the local markets and what dates they are on, so you can be sure to be in town!
Take a Surf Lesson with Let’s Go Surfing
Okay, so I may be kind of cheating a little with this one but don’t give up on me just yet! The ultimate activity we longed to do in Byron Bay was to surf! I mean come on Byron Bay is the place to surf! It’s where every Aussie hit’s up for the holidays to get out on the waves! But we kind of had a freak out when we saw the price, yes surfing is expensive and decided to be sensible sausages and save it for another time! That said we have had now had three epic surfing lessons in Sydney with the same company that run the surf lessons in Byron Bay!
Let’s Go Surfing is the only surfing company on Bondi Beach down south and teach hundreds of amateurs to surf a week! The experience we’ve had with these guys has been world-class and I wouldn’t recommend any other surf company! We even managed to stand up on the boards on our first lesson! The surf is good in Sydney but I know it can be better in Byron and whilst you’re visiting the ultimate surf town it would be rude not to give it a go right? But if you’re like us and strapped for cash because you blew it all on the rest of your roadie, then fear not you can hop on aboard when you get to Sydney!
Sunrise at Tallow Beach
What is it about the sunrise that makes you raring to go for the day? I can remember the day we headed to watch the sunrise at Tallow beach like it was this morning. As the alarm rings in my ears at 5:30 am I’d already been lying awake for half an hour prior. You see, camper-vans aren’t very soundproof and those Australian birds are singing at the top of their beaks way before the sun is up! But I could think of a lot worse noises to wake up to, I loved listening to them as I lay in the back of our home on wheels.
When Dave is eventually ready to head to the beach we look like two ninjas in the dark stumbling out of the van! Without a care in the world, we walk 500 yards and we are on the beach, crazy I know, it was 5:30 am and I was stood on a beach in Australia, in my pyjamas waiting for the sun to rear its head. It honestly felt like it was a movie.
I vividly remember being shocked at how many people were out at that time in the morning walking their dogs, jogging or just having a stroll! But if I lived that close the beach then I reckon I’d be there most mornings (note to self, get to Bondi Beach in the mornings more often!). The sky was clear with just two strands of pink cloud, looking a lot like candy floss in the distance. The sunrise was simply spectacular and well worth getting up early for!
Now, Tallow Beach is about a 15-minute drive from Byron Bay in Suffolk and I highly recommend you get up there for sunrise if you can, you can see the lighthouse in the distance as well as the glistening ocean with your feet buried in the sand! Another popular option for the sunrise is actually heading up to the lighthouse – we are saving this one for our next trip!
After the sunrise make sure you head to Suffolk Bakery and grab a pastry and coffee – they honestly do the best of both in Byron! There wasn’t a day or time when this bakery wasn’t bustling with people, the smell of homemade baking goods lures you in from the street and honestly, it tastes just as good as it looks!
Soak up the sun on some of Australia’s most stunning beaches!
The Byron coastline is full of fantastic beaches! From the gorgeous Main beach to the more quiet and mellow Tallow Beach, you are spoilt for choice! They all ooze beauty with glorious waters to swim, paddle and splash around in! There is even a tonne of water sports activities you can get on board within Byron Bay! You can go here for some more details on those!
It can be difficult when choosing which beaches to explore especially when you’re on a time constraint – we had the same problem so I feel ya! That said we did manage to get around a few of them like a pair of beach hussies on the loose! So below are our favourites & the ones we think you should visit!
Stating the obvious I know, but it’s impressive how many people avoid the main beaches of coastal towns like Byron Bay because of the high volumes of tourism people expect to find! The Main beach in Byron Bay wasn’t like that at all and it has so much more to offer than just a beach. Begin on the grass near the car park and you’ll be invited in by acoustic music!
We listened to a fair few talented guitarists during our visit! You can bring a picnic up the grass and just listen and hang out on there if you like! Or you can drop down onto the beach which yes, will be busy but still beautiful. Main Beach importantly has lifeguards patrolling which is somewhat lacking on the other beaches! So if you’re up for a swim in the sea the best place to be is Main Beach so you can stay safe and swim between those flags!
I know I’ve already talked about how tranquil this beach is but that isn’t just at sunrise. Tallow Beach is stunning at all times of the day! The view of the lighthouse makes it extra special as does the lack of people! If you’re looking for a quieter strip of sand so that you can fall right into the pages of that holiday read then Tallow Beach is the place for you! You won’t find any facilities at Tallow beach so make sure you’ve plenty of food and an empty bladder!
We stumbled across this lovely little bay and beach area when we were hiking up to the lighthouse! A gorgeous little cove makes for an idyllic place for a sunbathe, swim and BBQ! There is a car park, a grassed area and plenty of facilities for your toileting needs! A perfect place for a group get together and family fun!
I briefly mentioned The Pass in an earlier section but I just want to touch on it a little more here. This can be one of the busiest spots in Byron due to the awesome waves that surfers love to ride when the conditions are right!
My advice would be to stay out of the water if you find yourself here on a day like this – best not to get wiped out by a surfboard, unless you’re a pro that is! But this beach is definitely worth a visit. I don’t know about you but I love watching surfers and it’s home to Fisherman’s Lookout, a perfect place to spot marine life and gaze onto the horizon. As well as that, like every spot in Byron, it’s perfect to sunbathe!
The great thing about Byron Bay is that it’s surrounded by trees, whether it’s pandanas, palm trees or pine trees you’re bound to find a spot of shade on any of the beaches! The most open of the four I’d say is tallow beach.
Eat Your Weight in Gelato
Okay, so I’m for sure not a foodie blogger but god do I love my food and Dave certainly loves his deserts! I had to give this place mention in this post because the Gelato we had from this counter was unreal! I have never tasted anything so light, like ever! Bella Rose has every flavour you can think of from coconut to Ferrero Rocher and it doesn’t make you feel all frumpy afterwards – it’s honestly THE BEST!
Bonus Tip: Where to Park Your Home on Wheels
Before you go I just thought I’d add one more piece of information to this post! Of course, the best way to travel the Aussie east coast is by camper van! So if you’re like us and jumped on the bandwagon, or van in this case! You’ll notice as you drive further south the pricing for the campsites slowly starts to increase! When in Byron Bay I recommend staying at Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park! Though about a 10 – 15-minute drive from the centre it’s a lot cheaper than some of the sites nearer the city & a bonus is that it’s set back from Tallow Beach! You can have a look at their website here but I couldn’t recommend it more!
We had more than two during our five days here! There are, of course, countless ice cream counters throughout the town, you only have to turn your head sideways and another one will most certainly be in you’re view!
So, in case you didn’t quite get the message in this post-Byron Bay has a very large chunk of my heart. I would go as far as to say I could happily live in Byron Bay for a long period of time. The people, the culture, the lifestyle isn’t anything short of perfection! & some of those houses dotted around the bay – wow! I might want to live there but whether I could ever afford would be another story, I’ll let you know if I ever make it!
But honestly, I would happy in the back of pastel green VW camper van for the foreseeable future! There are so many things to do in Byron Bay and we only scratched the surface but I look forward to updating this post the more we get to go back and explore!
Why is Byron Bay Special to us?
Byron Bay is a magical place and honestly it was the most at peace with ourselves we felt the whole road trip. We even made a huge decision whilst strolling the beach.
When we first arrived in Australia we were adamant we going to undertake the 88 days of rural farm work you have to do to extend you’re working holiday visa (Check out my post about WHV’S here). But in reality, neither of us were really being honest with each other. I was secretly dreading the whole thing, so much so that it was stopping me enjoying Australia to the full! Dave, on the other hand, would be able to hack the farm work but was wondering how I’d handle it! Turns out I ’m just not cut out for it and that’s okay.
So it was as we walked hand in hand on Wategos beach that we decided, no farm work! I suddenly felt a weight lifted from my shoulders and a deeper love from Byron Bay! It might sound crazy but this place for sure has something special about it!
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Byron Bay was just one of the amazing spots we loved on the East Coast of Australia. I’m so excited to finally be writing about each and every place! You can take a look at all of the destinations we hit up on our road trip in part 1 (Queensland) and part 2 (New South Wales) – click on the states!