April 14, 2023
21 mins Read
On a holiday to the coastal paradise that is Byron Bay, you are never going to be short of things to do. While it can be tempting (and completely justified) to spend all of your days lying in the sun or swimming in the sparkling turquoise waters of Byron’s beautiful beaches, there is also plenty of other exploring to be done if you so desire. Here we list some of our top things to do in Byron Bay (some more obscure than others), one of the most relaxing and beautiful places in the world.
Delta Kay is a local Arakwal Bundjalung woman who is a deeply respected elder in the Byron Bay community. Join traditional custodians of the land on an Explore Byron Bay Guided Aboriginal Tour that aims to connect participants with Indigenous culture.
Delta includes Dreamtime stories about the significance of Nguthungulli (otherwise known as Julian Rocks) an important cultural site to the local First Nations people. Delta also guides visitors around Currenba (The Pass) and points out a 1000-year-old midden with archaeological evidence of her ancestors gathering here to feast on everything from fish and pippies to pademelon.
No visit to Byron is complete without making the loop up to the lighthouse via the Cape Byron Walking Track, regarded as one of the best walks in Byron Bay. The 3.7-kilometre walkway is clearly signposted and classified as a Grade 3 walk as you will have to huff and puff up quite a few stairs and steep inclines.
If you do the walk between May and November you might be treated to some incredible Humpback Whale sightings as this is when they travel north up the east coast for their breeding and birthing grounds.
You can enter the walking track via the Cape Byron Conversation Area or Palm Valley car park. Bound for Cape Byron Lighthouse tour is a two-hour, one-kilometre walking tour around Cape Byron led by a knowledgeable NPWS guide.
If you are in Byron on a Thursday morning we recommend you head to the Butler Street Reserve and take a stroll around the Byron Bay Farmers’ Market to enjoy its lovely, friendly, laid-back vibe and its colourful fruits, delicious organic vegetables, avocados, coffee, local honey, edible flowers and freshly baked bread.
This is where the locals do their weekly produce shop and support local farmers and producers from around the region. Join the local push for a plastic-free Byron and bring your eco bag to this vibrant community hub.
There are also other Byron Bay markets on all throughout the week as follows: New Brighton (Tuesday), Murwillumbah (Wednesday), Mullumbimby (Friday), and Bangalow (Saturday).
Wategos Beach is one of the prettiest of all of Byron’s beaches. A little beach in an idyllic setting between The Pass and the Cape Byron Lighthouse, it’s a lovely place for a swim or a bbq with friends.
You can also walk around to Little Wategos Beach at low tide, which is bordered by native bushland. Wategos’ waves are beginner-friendly making it a popular spot for learners and longboarders.
If you have the cash to splash, book a room at the very special Raes on Wategos or grab an afternoon drink and a snack at their relaxed cellar bar. It’s very beautiful here.
Zephyr Horses is a unique coastal horse ranch in the picturesque town of Byron Bay. Their super friendly team offer small personalised horse tours through both the bush and on the beach.
They also offer mounted archery and trick riding clinics, horseback pub tours, mustering camps, private lessons, ‘Mini-Zephyrs’ (pony) Club, and team-building activities.
We recommend booking one of their “Forest to Beach” sunrise or sunset tours. This is an amazing soul-charging, an adventure-packed experience that will become a highlight of your Byron holiday.
The recently-opened first section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail is a fun and picturesque way to enjoy the natural beauty of this incredible region. The first part of the trail opened in March 2023, along the old railway line between Murwillumbah and Crabbes Creek and spans 24 kilometres through lush rainforests, rolling hills, and charming rural towns.
Crabbes Creek is 29 kilometres north of Byron and Murwillumbah is 50 kilometres north. When completed, the Northern Rivers Rail Trail will connect Murwillumbah, Byron Bay, Lismore and Casino, and will be 132 kilometres long and pass through some of the most scenic countrysides in New South Wales.
This is a huge drawcard for walkers, hikers, runners and cyclists alike, and a great opportunity for visitors to explore the region in a unique way while still helping to preserve the area’s history and heritage.
Go Sea Kayak is Byron Bay’s original dolphin kayak tour company and has been running group tours in Byron since 1995. Their kayaking tours will introduce you to some of the best sights of this most easterly part of Australia while learning about local history, indigenous history, the lighthouse, dolphins, whales, and turtles.
This is one of the best ways to look back on the most Easterly Point of the Australian mainland (from a surfboard is the other). They are so confident that you will see dolphins on their kayaking tours, that if you don’t, they will give you a free return trip for another time.
The Byron Bay solar-powered train offers a lovely little train ride on board an immaculately restored 1949-era two-carriage heritage train. The trip takes you along a short three-kilometre coastal track that links the town centre of Byron with the North Beach precinct and industrial estate.
The journey takes just 10 minutes one way or 25 minutes return, and they operate 364 days a year. The train can accommodate 92 seated passengers and there is extra room for standing passengers and luggage extras such as bikes, prams and surfboards (which can be carried free of charge). This is a lovely way to experience a net carbon-positive journey, Byron style.
If you are wanting an afternoon surrounded by lush rainforest, to soak up the healing energy and powers of some of the biggest and most beautiful crystals in the world, we recommend making the short trip out to the magical hinterland sanctuary that is Crystal Castle.
Sit in an ancient amethyst cave, see rare giant crystals, wander through the 10 hectares of tranquil Shambhala Gardens and rainforest, and join in on one of the daily Crystal Sound Healings (that take place at 12pm and 3pm each day).
Harvest Newrybar, in the charming one-street village of Newrybar (just 20 minutes from Byron), is an absolute must for any visit to Byron for a cup of the cafe’s own Harvest blend made with Beam coffee or a bite to eat from their deli, or a more fancy lunch or dinner in their award-winning restaurant.
It is also a great place to visit though on a Friday evening if you happen to be in Byron on the first Friday of the month. “Fun Friday” is a monthly event put on by Harvest where the whole precinct turns into a lively activation with great food, live music, pop-up garden bars, and fun for the whole family. It is a free event and no bookings are required.
Also, every Wednesday morning (around 10am) the Newrybar Merchants offer a story time for kids in the mini Newrybar village cubbies. Another great reason to head out there with the fam. You can keep up to date with their events on Instagram.
Venture offshore from Byron Bay and you will get a great perspective of the craggy coastline and cliffs and verdant rainforest in Arawkal National Park. You will also be perfectly positioned to see whales cruising past in the open ocean (between May and November), and pods of playful dolphins onboard a Whale Watching Byron Bay Tour.
The tour departs directly from Cape Byron in a unique purpose-built whale-watching RIB (rigid-hull inflatable boat), a Zodiac-style vessel that offers 360-degree views so everyone has a ringside seat.
Shopping in Byron has become so much better over the last few years with a whole host of new flagship independent boutiques and Australian fashion labels popping up all over town.
In the centre of town, don’t miss some of Byron’s most beloved local brands including Rowie the Label, Mister Zimi, Spell, and Nagnata (with their brand new flagship store in the new Jonson Lane Precinct).
Then head to the industrial estate for some other local favourites including Zulu & Zephyr, St. Agni, East Coast General, and Tigmi Trading (for the most incredible collection of furniture and homewares).
And on to Habitat for Shackpalace Rituals, For Artists Only, and Prae, to name just a few. You will not get bored (and your wallet will get a workout), that’s for sure.
It’s always nice to treat yourself to a little pampering while on holiday and there are so many options in Byron now where you can do just this. Little Company is where to go for the most heavenly and relaxing facials. Their space is a dream and their treatments will have you floating out of there. Likewise, Comma, for the most incredible massages in a beautiful space.
Newly-opened ‘The Banya’ in nearby Mullumbimby is a lovely new bathhouse, complete with mineral pools, a wood-fired sauna and a steam room. The perfect place for a soak with friends. And lastly, back in Byron in the industrial estate, Nimbus offers state-of-the-art private infrared saunas, ice baths, and other wellness offerings (such as acupuncture and massage).
The Byron Bay Wildlife Sanctuary has recently moved to its new home at the former Macadamia Castle in Knockrow, just a 20-minute drive from Byron Bay.
Home to more than 100 incredible Australian wildlife animals, including kangaroos, a fabulous array of birds and reptiles including snakes and crocodiles, plus their resident personalities Manda the wombat and Arnie the koala, they also have bunnies and guinea pigs and a Chick House with lots of baby chicks that can be handled.
While there, you can also enjoy a game of mini golf, and there are holiday programs on offer for the kids, plus a range of wildlife encounters that allow visitors to experience these beautiful animals up close. Open 9am to 4pm every day, except Christmas Day.
Byron is home to an unbelievably impressive and colourful array of festivals that are throughout the year, starting in February with the Flickerfest Short Film Festival (showcasing locally made short films) in Mullumbimby.
It is then on to the Bluesfest in April – Australia’s most awarded music festival – which takes place over the Easter long weekend. There is always a guaranteed line-up of amazing bands, as well as plenty of licensed bars, food and market stalls, children’s entertainment and more.
In June, it is the Byron Music Festival, held right in the centre of town, which is an all-ages, community festival focused on 100 per cent locally-made music.
In July, it is the much-loved Splendour in the Grass, considered to be Australia’s biggest winter music festival, a three-day extravaganza held out at the North Byron Parklands just 15 minutes north of Byron, with a huge line-up of big-name bands and new Australian music – just remember to pack your gumboots, it seems to ALWAYS rain over that weekend.
In August, hundreds of writers and thinkers head to Byron for the Byron Writers Festival to share stories, ideas and the power of words.
There’s the Byron Bay Surf Festival in September, and the Byron Bay Film Festival, which showcases independent film talent and a uniquely rich and diverse program of films in October.
In December, it’s the iconic Falls Festival which happens over New Year’s Eve. It is held out at the North Byron Parklands, with an always impressive line-up (this year will be no different). Phew! As you can see, there are plenty to choose from.
Benny Holloway is a Byron-based soulful soundophile and self-taught artist sharing healing vibrations through live music and sound therapy. You too can have the opportunity to experience the deep meditative qualities of the SoundBed, otherwise known as “Nidra Anantar”, in a session with Benny.
This rare and large acoustic sound bed is made from hand-hewn timber, beneath which lie 50 artfully strung steel strings, each of which has been hand-crafted and finely tuned to create a reverberation throughout the entire body.
The session sees Benny play the instrument as you lay on the bed with the healing vibration of the sound offering both a deeply meditative nervous system recalibration and a gentle massage of the body. This is an incredibly unique Byron Bay experience and one not to be missed.
Balloon Aloft offers daily sunrise flights over the Byron Bay region. This is the most wonderful opportunity to catch the sun rising over Australia’s most easterly point from the air. Each of their Byron Bay flights is unique and the location is determined on the morning of your flight depending on the wind conditions of the day. You might be taking in magnificent views of the ocean or the hinterland, or the vast diversity of scenery around the famed counterculture meccas of Bangalow, Mullumbimby, Nimbin or Lismore. It’s an amazing experience. Highly recommend.
One of the region’s most-loved country pubs, The Eltham is a 30-minute drive inland from Byron in the hinterland town of Eltham and is definitely worth the trip.
It is home to exceptionally good pub food, cold beer, and an amazing line-up of live music (you will also find a bottle shop and some stunning accommodation as well). Open 7 days a week, 12pm til’ late, this is the place to go with some mates to see some really good music and eat some really good food. Check their website to see who’s playing.
This is not just a tourist thing to do, Top Shop is a favourite amongst locals as well.
Housed in an old 1950s milk bar, which is both a nod to nostalgia and an up-to-the-minute eatery that supports local farmers and suppliers, it’s the place to grab a post-surf brekkie burger and then grab a piece of lawn out the front to enjoy it in the sun. A perfect Byron moment in time.
The breathtaking Bundjalung Country of Byron Bay is oftentimes considered the healing heartland of Australia. If you have a few extra days and you are craving a break from busy city life, consider booking a retreat at one of two of the region’s most acclaimed: Gaia Retreat & Spa, or Soma.
Gaia is located on a magical eight-hectare nature setting in the Byron hinterland, at the highest point of the Shire, and has long been considered one of Australia’s best lifestyle wellness retreats. It’s an intimate offering, with just 22 rooms, suites and villas. Whether you are looking for just some rest and rejuvenation in a beautiful setting, or an improvement in general health, well-being or fitness, Gaia will tailor your bespoke journey accordingly.
Soma is a newer retreat, equally as beautiful, located just outside Byron on nine hectares of land with a yoga dome, freshwater infinity pool, infrared sauna, ice bath, and private rooms with ensuites, organic meals and a tailored retreat experience igniting deep transformation. Soma’s retreat offerings stem from Vedic philosophy and their co-founder Gary Gorrow’s 20-plus years of experience as a Vedic Meditation practitioner (master teacher), qualified Ayurvedic health coach and mindfulness expert. Either option will have you feeling a sense of calm and steadiness in no time.
Creature Yoga is one of Byron’s most-loved yoga studios. Run by Tahl Rinsky and Bess Prescott, Creature is a school of yoga, grounded in thousands of years of a remarkable tradition. Located in the industrial estate, it is a special studio with a lovely team of brilliant teachers and creative classes that always offer something new and interesting and bring with them thought-provoking transformational elements with warmth and care. Check out their website for the timetable and more details.
The Byron Community Market has, until recently, been held along the beachfront of Main Beach but it has just relocated to the centre of town. Held on the first Sunday of each month, you can now find the market on Jonson Street, between Marvell Street and Byron Street (just near the Rails pub). The market offers a vibrant mix of music, delicious food and market stalls.
Spend an afternoon enjoying some of the top-notch tastings and district views on offer at the microbreweries dotted around the Byron Bay Shire.
Craft beer devotees and amateur homebrewers and distillers will enjoy the fact they can bump elbows with the local artisan brewers and distillers on a Behind the Barrell tour.
Highlights of a Full Barrell Tour include pit stops at Stone & Wood, Seven Mile Brewing Co, Cape Byron Distillery and Husk Distillers among others.
If you love art, and you love supporting local Australian artists, head along to Art Kind Byron Bay in the industrial estate – a brand new contemporary art space and gallery by local artist, Bec Duff. At Art Kind, you will find art exhibitions that showcase both lesser-known and established Australian artists, as well as art workshops, masterclasses and gallery events.
While in the Byron shire, consider booking one of the programs on offer by The Returning – an all-Indigenous, female-run and led Not-For-Profit Organisation, that retraces ancestral steps to rewrite a new paradigm of living.
The Returning is an Indigenous charity designed to bring all peoples of all ages, races and places back to country. Their programs are community events or camps created for care to help bridge the privilege gap between those who can afford retreats and those who cannot.
Their programs include Culture Camp (open to everyone), The Gathering (for women only), Healing Retreats (for Indigenous only), and the Water Lore Program (for Indigenous youth only). All programs are designed to reconnect participants back to self, community, land and our more than human kin through a culturally safe lens that prioritises decolonised health and wellness.
There is so much amazing local talent in the Northern Rivers region and the A&I Hall in Bangalow (just 10 minutes from Byron) is where you will find a lot of that talent being showcased in various theatre and musical productions throughout the year by the Bangalow Theatre Company. Recent shows include HAIR – the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical and Rent as well. Check their website for upcoming shows and tickets.
If the weather turns a little nasty, why not take the kids to do some circus tricks? Located in the industrial estate, Circus Arts Byron Bay is the only flying trapeze school in Byron, offering an indoor flying trapeze, as well as circus classes for adults, kids and teens, plus a play space/climbing wall, and school holiday programs. Circus Arts have been promoting fun and fitness through flying trapeze and circus classes since 1999.
A visit to The Farm Byron Bay and Three Blue Ducks is no doubt on your list already, but if not, it should be. This 32-hectare farm and macadamia orchard with views of the hinterland is such a great place for the whole family. Kids will love to wander around the farm and see the animals, and they will love the playground as well.
Grown-ups will love the food at Three Blue Ducks – which showcases ethical local growers and producers in their delicious, innovative dishes, as well as produce from the farm itself – either dine in at the restaurant, or grab a picnic hamper or something to-go from the cafe and find a patch of lawn or one of the big picnic tables, and enjoy your lunch under the trees in the dappled sun.
If you are looking for something super fun to do on your Friday night, then head along to Byron Bay’s Cavanbah Centre for the Northern Rivers’ very own roller derby! If one night is not enough, you can also find the Northern Rivers Roller Derby crew out in Lismore on Thursday nights, held at Rollerworld.
If you’re an experienced surfer, you will be able to manoeuvre around the knot of beginners hustling to get onto a wave at The Pass or Wategos and paddle into a set from the peak.
But if you’re a beginner, you can surf Byron Bay with an accredited instructor from companies such as Soul Surf School or Let’s Go Surfing and receive hands-on help during a two-hour lesson. The Pass is hardly a secret spot, but you will have a ball paddling furiously alongside locals who make it look easy while your mates hoot you onto a wave.
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