Surfing in Byron Bay

Travel guide to Byron Bay

One of my favourite coastal towns in New South Wales (NSW) state of Australia is Byron Bay. It has those 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.

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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PIN for later reference - Travel guide to Byron Bay
PIN for later reference – Travel guide to Byron Bay
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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.

How to get to Byron Bay?

Drive

Byron Bay is closer to Brisbane than Sydney, even though it is in NSW state.

  • The distance between Byron Bay and Sydney is about 770 kilometres north of Sydney and takes about 8 hours 30 minutes to drive.
    • There are toll roads in between.
  • The distance between Byron Bay and Brisbane is 166 kilometres and it takes only about 2 hours 10 minutes to drive.

Air

  • The fastest way to get to Byron Bay is by flying into the town. It has its own airport in Ballina, which is about 31 kilometres from the Byron Bay Central Business District (CBD).
    • Jetstar is the budgeted airline.
    • There are buses that go between Ballina airport and Byron Bay CBD. This is definitely a cheaper option but it takes almost an hour to reach the CBD.
    • The quickest way to go between the Ballina airport and Byron Bay CBD is by taking a shuttle bus. Even though it is pricey (AUD 30 per person for one way), it is a door to door service.

If you are more than one person, then taking an Uber between the Ballina airport and Byron Bay CBD is the best way to go. The cost is around AUD 60 for one way taxi ride.

Train

  • The cheapest way to get to Byron Bay from Sydney is by taking a train. The train fare only costs between AUD 60 to AUD 90 one way. But the journey is around 14 hours.

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. I have stayed at two places during my visits.

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. Even though it is a hostel, YHA is surely one of the cleanest hostels to stay in. The vibes and everything about the hostel is cool.

Hibiscus Motel

A very pleasant stay close to the restaurants and cafes on Jonson or Lawson streets is the Hibiscus Motel. 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.

  • Note: The motel does not have an inhouse cafe or a restaurant but it is very close to Jonson and Lawson streets where there are plenty of eat out joints.

Wollongbar Motel

During my recent travel and because of COVID restrictions, I decided to stay in a motel and not at a hostel. Wollongbar Motel is a comfortable stay, very close to the CBD. The staff was friendly and the room was very clean. I would recommend this motel for sure.

  • Note: This motel does not have an inhouse cafe or a restaurant but it is very close to Jonson and Lawson streets where there are plenty of eat out joints.

Things to do in Byron Bay

One would need at least 3 to 4 days in Byron Bay to enjoy all the below activities listed. But if you have more time, definitely spend a few more days than 3 to 4 days.

Outdoor activities

To begin with, let’s talk about my most favourite things to do in this coastal town which is mostly outdoors.

  • Attend music festivals. Byron Bay Bluefest music festival is one of the famous festivals in Australia.
  • Scuba dive. 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, sharks and rays.
    • 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.
  • Snorkel. If scuba diving is not for you, then definitely snorkeling with turtles must be on your list.
  • 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.
  • Hike and walk. There are plenty of hiking trails along the coast and to the lighthouse ‘Cape Byron lighthouse’.
  • See the Humpback whales. During the whale migratory season (May to October) watch these gentle giants swim by.

For a guide on seeing the Humpback whales in Sydney, read my post Whale watching in Sydney.

  • Learn to surf. There are plenty of places where one can learn to surf and the beaches at the bay is surely the place to ride the waves.
  • Go on hunt for beautiful murals/street art. The town has some pretty graffiti. They are huge and they are stunning.
Street art at Byron Bay
One of the street arts
  • Ride the first solar train. Ensure to take a 10 minutes train ride on the World’s first solar train. The train ride is between Byron and North beachs.
    • The ticket can be purchased onboard and the cost to ride the train is AUD 5 per adult one way.
Solar Train ride

Indoor activities

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 time I visited Byron Bay, I was there for the two days and it was pouring both the days. 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. Some of my favourite eat out joints were:
    • Miss Margarita. If you love Mexican, then Miss Margarita is a great place for you. I loved the Jalapeno Poppers and Chicken tacos.
    • 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.
Orgasmic Falafels
Falafels at Orgasmic Falafel
  • 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 run 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 were 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. Yes the town has a unique 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. Unfortunately, I could not visit as I had not hired a car this time.
  • 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 cafe. 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 cafe which was a cool experience.
Coffee in Byron Bay

Around Byron Bay

There are many things around Byron Bay that are as interesting as the things to do in the town. 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.
Crystal Castle
Lord Ganesha at Crystal Castle

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.

Sunset at Byron Bay
Photograph taken by thealphasnapper

Closing Notes

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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PIN for later reference - Travel guide to Byron Bay
PIN for later reference – Travel guide to Byron Bay

14 comments

  1. I missed Byron Bay when I was in Australia. I would have loved kayaking with the dolphins and checking out the street art. And I must have lunch at orgasmic falafel for the name alone. Next time!

  2. You know it is a great spot to visit when people go back over and over again. We will have to check out Byron Bay if we ever get our trip to Australia re-booked. Definitely not really a day trip if we stay in Sydney! Since we would want to scuba dive, a few days in Byron Bay would work perfectly. And who would want to miss the chance to kayak with dolphins! Waterfalls and gardens would round out a great spot to visit. Thanks for introducing a new spot.

  3. Byron Bay looks like a great place to unwind for a few days. I like the idea of kayaking with dolphins and the food and restaurant scene seems very tasty too! I can imagine it is one of those places you plan to stay two days and end up staying much longer.

  4. Byron Bay surely has many wonderful things to do. Scuba diving at Julian Rocks sounds like a great idea! I also like hunting street arts and riding the first solar train. And yes, I’d love to try the food there as well. Falafels look delicious!

  5. If it’s a place you keep returning to, then it must be good! I love how you described this town- laid back, coastal. What a perfect place to go for surfing, scuba and swimming. And then to visit the any of the eateries you’ve recommended too.

  6. I learn something new about Australia every time I read your posts. I totally enjoy exploring coastal towns and Byron bay looks like a place to relax and rejuvenate. Would like to visit!

  7. Sounds like an exciting time you had at Byron Bay! I’ve got another itinerary ready now haha! Defo going for dolphins and kayaking and oh the orgasmic falafal would be great to try!

  8. Kayak with the dolphins sounds fantastic! I wonder whether you are guaranteed to see dolphins during kayaking in Byron Bay. To see humpback whales in person will also be amazing. I hope to do it one day. And I think riding the first solar train is a must, too while in Byron Bay.

  9. Bryon Bay seems to be a must visit for total fun and enjoyment. I love Kayak with the dolphins, Thanks for this helpful and consolidated information

  10. Byron Bay looks amazing place for street art lovers as there so many vibrant walls. Living in Mid-East, I love falafels and good to see some amazing falafels at Orgasmic Falafel. It is truly surprising to see sculpture of Lord Ganesha at Crystal Castle.

  11. I missed my Byron Bay trip when I was in Sydney. The street art, the food, kayaking are such amazing things I hope to do when I will visit next.

  12. Australia seems to be a wonderful country to visit and this place Byron Bay looks so scenic and beautiful to visit. I loved how detailed this post is and have all the necessary information in this.

I would love to hear your thoughts, please drop a comment!

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