One of my favourite coastal towns in New South Wales (NSW) state of Australia is Byron Bay. It is one of those towns that has the most chilled out and relaxed vibes. I have been to Byron Bay five times already and every time I have visited I have found something new to do. And in this post, I will provide the information on Byron Bay things to do.
For a memorable road trip and all other coastal towns, including Byron Bay, in the east coast of Australia, read my post “The ultimate road trip in the east coast“.
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About Byron Bay
Byron Bay is a coastal town on the east coast of Australia in the state of NSW. It is the home for Australia’s easterly point. Known for its spectacular beaches, festivals and the vibrant vibes, Byron Bay stands out as one of the popular tourist destinations among the locals and visitors.
Did you know Byron Bay is also home to the famous Hollywood celebrities like Chris Hemsworth and Matt Damon?
Even though Byron Bay can be visited throughout the year, the best time to visit Byron Bay is during the months of September to November as the temperatures are pleasant. You need at least 5 days to explore Byron Bay and beyond.
How to get to Byron Bay?
Byron Bay is in the state of NSW, where Sydney is the capital city. But do you know that Byron Bay is closer to Brisbane (capital city of Queensland) than Sydney?
- Distance between Byron Bay and Sydney is a little more than 750 kilometres north of Sydney and the journey by road takes around 8 hours 30 minutes. Note that the route has toll roads in between. You need to have a FastTag (registered with Service NSW) to drive through the toll roads.
- Distance between Byron Bay and Brisbane is shorter and is just around 160 kilometres and the journey takes only about 2 hours 10 minutes. The best way to reach Byron Bay would be to take a flight to Brisbane and then hire a car from the airport to drive to Byron Bay or you could just take a flight to Ballina (domestic airport for Byron Bay).
- Quickest and easiest way to get to Byron Bay is by flying into the town as it has its own domestic airport in Ballina. The airport is about 30 kilometres from the Byron Bay Central Business District (CBD). Virgin Australia and Jetstar operate through Ballina domestic airport and Jetstar being the budgeted airline.
Transportation between Ballina airport and Byron Bay CBD
- The most affordable and economical way to travel between the Ballina domestic airport and Byron Bay CBD is by taking a public bus. Even though economical, the journey takes almost an hour to reach the CBD and is to the town centre.
- The quickest and best way to travel between the Ballina domestic airport and Byron Bay CBD is by taking a shuttle bus. The shuttle buses are door to door but they are a bit expensive (AUD 30 per person for one way). It is a door to door service which means that you will get dropped at your accommodation. These shuttle buses can be booked at the airport, near the baggage counters.
- Contact details of the shuttle are:
- Phone number: 0414 660 031.
- Steves Transport
- Contact details of the shuttle are:
If you are more than one person, then taking an Uber or Ola cabs between the Ballina airport and Byron Bay CBD is the best way to go as the cost for one way ride is around AUD 60/70.
By Public Transport
- One of the cheapest ways to get to Byron Bay town from Sydney is by taking a train. Costing only between AUD 60 to AUD 90 one way, it is a great way to reach the town but the only catch is that the journey takes up to 14 hours one way. Train tickets can be purchased on the Transport for NSW website.
Stay in Byron Bay
Byron Bay has plenty of stay options. Ranging from pretty AirBnBs to budgeted hostels, it has all the variety for the needs of a traveler. During my travels in Byron Bay, I have stayed at many of these in different budget ranges.
- Note: Some of these motels and hotels do not have an inhouse café or a restaurant as they are very close to Jonson and Lawson streets. And these streets have heaps of eat out joints.
The Surf House
Located conveniently on Lawson Street, The Surf House is a great place to stay in Byron Bay. Themed on surfing, this accommodation provides cosy and premium rooms and a rooftop bar.
The accommodation has very relaxed vibes with young surfers chilling at the lobbies and rooftop bar.
YHA Byron Bay
Being an avid traveler, I usually stay at budgeted places and hence my go to places are hostels. For the first two times, I stayed at the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) Byron Bay. There are two YHA hostels in the town, one is the Byron Bay YHA and the other is the Cape Byron Hostel YHA.
Even though these are hostels, they are some of the cleanest hostels in Australia and the vibes are really cool.
A very pleasant stay close to the town centre is the Hibiscus Motel. Just 2 minutes walk from the beach, the Hibiscus Motel offers spacious and bright rooms.
The check in was very easy and the lady at the reception (which is at Waves Hotel) was very considerate and checked us in at 10 AM even though the check in was supposed to be at 2 PM. I would stay at this place again for sure as it was a great enjoyable stay.
During my recent travel and because of COVID restrictions, I decided to stay in a motel and not at a hostel. Located on Shirley Street, Wollongbar Motel is a comfortable stay, very close to the town centre.
The staff was friendly and the room was very clean. This motel has many amenities such as a swimming pool, barbecue area and a free parking space.
Byron Bay Things to do
You need at least 4 to 5 days in Byron Bay to enjoy and explore all the below activities listed. But if you have very short time and have only one day, read One day in Byron Bay.
To begin with, let’s talk about my most favourite things to do in this coastal town which is mostly outdoors. Byron Bay is famous for its outdoor activities, especially related to the water activities such as surfing and scuba diving.
Scuba diving at Julian Rocks
Julian Rocks is one of the most famous dive sites in Australia (also the reason why I planned my recent trip to Byron Bay) and is home to many marine life including the turtles, grey nurse sharks and rays. This dive site is Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) recognised and is one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world.
Byron Bay Dive Centre (SSI) is one of the providers for scuba diving at Byron Bay. The other scuba dive centre in Byron Bay is Sun Dive centre (PADI). The cost for a boat dive (for certified divers) is approximately AUD 150 with full gear.
Unfortunately, I have not dived at Julian Rocks till now. All the times I have been at Byron Bay, there has been a storm or it has been extremely windy and has caused the swell to be around 5 metres.
If scuba diving is not for you, then definitely snorkeling with turtles must be on your list. Julian Rocks is the spot for snorkeling as well as it has abundant marine life. The site has been ranked as the top snorkelling site in Australia by Australian Geographic Magazine.
Kayak with the dolphins
I have kayaked in the ocean with dolphins swimming along. Trust me the word magical is underrated to describe how it feels. Just costing about AUD 90, this experience is a must when you are in Byron Bay. Go Sea Kayak or Cape Byron Kayaks are the providers who take you on a kayaking adventure.
Coastal walk to Cape Byron Lighthouse
There are plenty of walking trails along the coast and one of the coastal walks is to the lighthouse ‘Cape Byron lighthouse’. Located on the most easterly point of Australia, Cape Byron Lighthouse is an active heritage listed lighthouse. The coastal walk from Byron Bay town centre is just 3 kilometres (one-way) and is very beautiful.
See the Humpback Whales (Seasonal)
During the whale migratory season (between May and October), watch these gentle giants swim by the coast. Every year, Humpback whales migrate from down south to north and back. This is a huge annual activity that all Australians love to see. One of the best places to see these whales in Byron Bay is at the Cape Byron Lighthouse.
For a guide on seeing the Humpback whales in Sydney, read my post Whale watching in Sydney.
You can also opt for whale watching tours that run during this season where you can go on a boat trip to see these whales up close.
Tip: Look for deals on Viator where you can get whale watching tours for lesser or affordable prices.
Learn to surf
As I mentioned, Byron Bay is known for its surfing. It is one of the top most destinations in Australia for surfing. The shops, activities and the people are all into surfing. There are plenty of places where you can learn to surf as well and the beaches at the bay is surely the place to ride the waves. During warm and beautiful days, these beaches are crowded and the ocean is filled with surfers.
Go on hunt for beautiful murals/street art
The town has some pretty graffiti. There are streets along the Lawson or Jonson streets where there are huge street art. These are amazing to look at as they are life size murals.
Ride the first solar train
Another unique thing to do at Byron Bay is to take a 10 minutes train ride on the world’s first solar train. The train ride is between Byron beach and North beach. You can talk to the train driver as well and learn about this train. The ticket for the ride can be purchased onboard and the cost is just AUD 5 per adult one way (paid by cash).
Attend music festivals
When I first moved to Australia, I would hear these amazing and vibrant music festivals and many of these would happen in Byron Bay. The town was famous for its annual music festival, especially the Byron Bay Bluefest music festival. Happening since 1990, the Byron Bay Bluefest happened during the Easter long weekend (April).
Byron Bay is a coastal town and most of the to-do things involve water and the ocean. It is a place for people who love being outdoors and in the ocean. However, when the storm kicks in, there is no option but to spend time indoors.
The last couple of times I visited Byron Bay, it was pouring and I did a few things trying to avoid the rain as much. I realised Byron Bay is definitely much more than the diving, surfing, hiking and kayaking.
So, here are the list of things one can do indoors:
- Explore the cafes and restaurants. There are plenty of eat outs on Jonson and Lawson Streets. Have a coffee in one of the picture perfect cafes. And also indulge in delicious food that cater for all kinds of travelers. Some of my favourite eat out joints are:
- Miss Margarita – If you love Mexican, then Miss Margarita is a great place for you. I loved the Jalapeno Poppers and Chicken tacos here.
- Orgasmic Falafel – I absolutely loved falafels at Orgasmic Falafel. They are fresh, crisp, tasty and amazing. I will not miss this place every time I visit Byron Bay. Note that the food here is expensive.
- Get a relaxing massage – There are many massage centres and getting a nice relaxing massage on a rainy day is definitely worth it.
- Note: Ensure to call the massage centre in advance for bookings as they get booked out pretty quickly, especially when it is raining. I had to call at least 4 of them before I got a spot in one.
- Shop – The clothes at the shops are so beautiful and hence definitely buy one or two of them and support local businesses. Also, the souvenirs especially the surf boards and the colourful vans are awesome.
- Go to the cinema – The town has a unique and old cinema that plays old movies. I did not get a chance to go for one of them but I would suggest watching one and going back in time.
- Visit Art Industrial estate – As the name suggests, this is for art lovers. For this one, you need to have a car as it is a bit further away from the town centre.
- Explore the Habitat – Visit another shopping area which is the Habitat. There are restaurants and cafes where one can enjoy and explore.
- Stretch and do some Yoga – I was surprised to find that Byron Bay has so much of yoga influence. There are many places where one can indulge in a session of Yoga. There are also Yoga retreats for longer stays.
- Chill and unwind – Spend your days at Byron Bay relaxing and de-stressing.
- Visit the Bookshop – There is a bookshop in town with a café. It is a great place to sip a coffee reading a book.
- Attend an interview of a chef – Just kidding! However, unwillingly during my recent trip, I was a party to an interview of a Japanese chef at a local café, which was a cool experience.
Around Byron Bay
There are many things around Byron Bay that are as interesting as Byron Bay things to do. The town is surrounded by rivers, waterfalls and hiking trails.
One can rent a car in Byron Bay either at the Ballina airport or at the ByronBay Rent a Car on Ewingsdale Road (5 kilometres from town centre). Ensure to take a full insurance with AUD 1 excess while hiring a car to have a stress free road trip.
- Visit the waterfalls – The Whian Whian falls and the Minyon falls are a few beautiful waterfalls, around 30 kilometres from the town centre. Unfortunately, the national park and the falls were closed when I visited Byron Bay the last time. So I could not see the waterfalls.
- Spend a day at Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens – Crystal Castle is a pretty place with the display of colourful crystals and trees. The cost of entrance ticket is AUD 39 per person.
- Even though the place was great and there were many sculptures and tourist attractions in the gardens, I personally did not think the visit was worth the entrance fee.
Safety for solo female travelers
Byron Bay is absolutely safe for solo female travelers. It is tourist friendly destination and most of the people you would come across are tourists and travelers. I have been there many times now and I have traveled solo all the times. I have not encountered any problems while I was there. However like any other place, be cautious and know your surroundings especially at nights.
Byron Bay will always be my favourite and I will keep visiting this town often. If you are in NSW and you do have a bit of time, I would surely recommend adding Byron Bay to your list. It is worth staying and spending time at this amazing town.
Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below.
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