Byron Bay is a seaside town on the far north coast of New South Wales, Australia. Host to the easternmost point of Australia and the landmark lighthouse of Cape Byron, the area is renowned for its beautiful beaches, exclusive shopping and dining opportunities, world-class festivals and strong cultural spirit. Outside the Byron Bay district, the field contains several seaside resorts, small hinterland cities, and large regional centres, many of which have their own distinctive character.
Ballina Airport, a 25-minute drive south of Byron Bay, or Gold Coast Airport, a 45-minute drive north of Byron Bay, is served by domestic airlines. Most tourists chose to travel to Byron Bay: it’s either a nine-hour journey from Sydney north or a two-hour drive from Brisbane southwards. The range of accommodations ranges from luxurious beachfront resorts to boutique hotels, hinterland hideaways, vacation homes and lively backpacker hostels.
Enjoy the beaches of the area by kayaking, horse-riding, taking swimming lessons, or watching whales. For a birds-eye view by a balloon of the mountains and coastal scenery, or take sky-diving off the wish list. Shop at neighbourhood markets with local designers and manufacturers, be the first in Australia to see the sunrise, or treat yourself to an indulgent day at the spa. Talk to the famous lighthouse, watch crowds with a cup of coffee, or find out about the local art scene in one of Byron ‘s galleries or live music venues.
Cavanbah, Byron Bay’s Indigenous name, means ‘meeting spot’ and tourists frequently forget its past as a gathering and ceremony centre. For instance, few know that the lighthouse is located on a religious initiation site.
No matter where you are in Byron Bay, natural elegance abounds. Walk the trail of Cape Byron as dawn breaks, and be one of Australia’s first men to salute the sun. The 3.7-kilometre loop leads through cliffs of rainforest and windswept with panoramic views over the ocean and the hinterland. Keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales, which migrate from June to November along the coast.
Out of town, stroll to the Mount Warning rim (a five-hour stroll back) and enjoy 360-degree views from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast. In the Nightcap National Park, which is listed as a World Heritage Site, you can stroll through thick rainforest and virgin creeks to Minyon Falls base. Meet nocturnal wildlife including bandicoots, pademelons, tawny frogmouths and possums on a night vision hike.
It’s worth soaking up the sunrise from Australia ‘s easternmost point, Cape Byron. You could save time and drive up to the iconic lighthouse. Still, then you’d miss out on the spectacular Cape Byron walking trail that passes through unique coastal rainforest, through sandy beaches and through grassy cliffs. Discover the majestic 1901 lighthouse on the headland and breathtaking ocean views. The full loop is 3.7 km (2.2 miles) and takes about two hours to complete, but don’t be inclined to take the shortcut down the road on the way back — the second half of the track is equally unique along Tallow Ridge.
The endless beaches and regular surf breaks at Byron Bay have attracted surfers for years. But today its beaches draw visitors as much as their tubular waves for meditation, walking, and sheltered swimming. Experience the thrill of kayaking along calm waters in Cape Byron Marine Park, next to a herd of bottlenose dolphins, or snorkelling or scuba diving with sea turtles at Julian Rocks.
Hit the famous right-hand point break, The Pass, between Main Beach and Cape Byron Headland halfway between. First-time surfers can use Let’s Go Surfing to book a party or private class. Travel on horseback along remote Seven Mile Beach or practice meditation while watching the ocean at Beachside Meditation and Massage.
The town centre of Byron is home to a host of cafés, selling everything from unhealthy breakfasts to cold-pressed juices and gelato. Drive just a short bit out of town to be able to dive into a new breed of restaurants. Three Blue Ducks in Byron set up on a working farm on the suburbs of the city where heritage-breed pigs, Scottish Highland cattle and chickens are housed. Its balanced menu features fresh produce in dishes such as home-cured salmon and crispy spiced shoulder lamb.
Hit up happy hour at a breezy cocktail bar and restaurant, The Mez Club, before having a sampling at Fleet. This pared-back restaurant is a popular spot to have dinner, so book well in advance. Join the 300-stall Byron Bay Community Market, held on the first Sunday of each month for a taste of the region’s rich flavours.
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