Top 10 Best Things to do in Byron Bay
Updated: Dec 10, 2021
Byron Bay is a stunningly beautiful area with so many awesome things to see and activities to give a whirl. When visiting Byron you're sure to ask "What are the BEST things to do?". So we're here to help... Here we go with our top 10 things to do in Byron Bay...
1. Byron Stand Up Paddle Nature Tour
A relaxing adventure with Byron Stand Up Paddle is hard to beat when it comes to Byron Bay activities! It's the perfect activity for a wide range of ages and abilities to enjoy together - from kids to grandparents.
Whether you're a solo adventurer or looking for an activity with your partner, family or bigger group, the Byron Stand Up Paddle Nature tour might be just the fun activity you're looking for!
The nature tour runs on the beautiful (and flat) Brunswick River, part of the Cape Byron Marine Park and is a mix of adventure, mindfulness and exercise all in one. An introductory lesson is given on land first, then after 5-10 minutes of possibly (slightly) shaky legs once on the water, you'll be feeling steady and ready to soak in all the surrounding beauty and looking for fish below and birds above.
The team at Byron Stand Up Paddle think of everything to make this an amazing experience, they literally roll out the red carpet for you to enter the water and even write blog posts just like this one to share with you, their customers and visitors to the area to help them enjoy their stay :)
Ok we may be biased because we are Byron Stand Up Paddle and this is what we do... but you don't have to take our word for it... you can read hundreds of 5 STAR reviews from our awesome customers -
"Highlight of our trip!"... "MUST-DO in Byron"... "Highly recommend!"...
Byron Stand Up Paddle Nature Tour Includes:
2 hour combined introductory lesson and tour (allow 3 hours including the return trip to and from Byron Bay with traffic)
Paddling adventure on the beautiful Brunswick River, part of the Cape Byron Marine Park
all equipment; big buoyant boards, paddles, leg ropes, long sleeved shirts, floating sunglasses straps, sunscreen
FREE digital photos
FREE water and homemade snacks
No experience necessary, just the ability to swim and a can-do attitude.
Daily Group Tour - $75pp - 13 years and above
Private tour option is also available for all ages (well just about, from ages 3+)
Start times vary due to the tides, winds and moon phase.
Send an enquiry to check start times and availability for your preferred day.
Visit the website to Find out more...
2. Cape Byron Lighthouse walk/hike
A must-do activity in Byron Bay is to visit the lighthouse. There is a beautiful hike around the bays that takes you up to this icon. There's plenty of vantage points to spot dolphins (and whales from July to November).
The cape track is filled with steps and ups and downs so be prepared by wearing walking shoes and bringing water and a hat. It's recommended to allow a couple of hours at least to enjoy the walk and views. More if you want to take your time and lap up some of the beautiful beaches along the way like Wategos and the Pass
There are also a couple of great cafes along the way to grab a coffee, cold drink, bite to eat or a treat.
There is a road walk instead of heading down to Wategos beach and then up along the cape, it is steep and isn't quite as picturesque as the headland track but still gets you to the lighthouse.
Once you've made it to the lighthouse you can tick off from your bucket list reaching the most Easterly point of Australia.
There are lighthouse tours operating depending on volunteer availability.
Feeling extra adventurous? You could head up to see the sunrise from the lighthouse!
Feeling a little less adventurous? You can drive near to the lighthouse and if you're lucky nab one of the limited paid parking spots; Closest to the lighthouse is $8, there are cheaper parking spots a little further down and you'll just have a short, steep walk up the road.
3. Chasing Waterfalls and Heading Out on Hikes
When looking for things to do in Byron Bay, exploring waterfalls needs to be high on your list of Byron Bay activities. There's something magical about hiking through the rainforest to come to a beautiful and refreshing natural waterhole. Check out some these waterfalls and hiking trails around Byron Bay.
Killen Falls have a beautiful rock pool and a waterfall. It's a nice easy bush walk to the viewing platform, but does get a bit trickier if you're aiming on getting down to the falls themselves - the track is quite steep and can be slippery after rain. Walking shoes are a must.
Distance from Byron: 20km (roughly 30 minutes away)
Bigger hike option:
Minyon Falls are in the Nightcap National Park around 32 km from Byron Bay, in the stunning Byron Bay hinterland. The 45 minute drive is quite beautiful in it's own right with winding roads around the tree-lined mountains and views over the entire coast. There is a lookout/viewing platform from the top and a bushwalking track which takes you into the valley.
The walk to the base of the waterfalls and back is around 13kms return (recommend allowing 3-4 hours). When you reach the bottom of the bush track you'll find yourself in front of a lot of boulders and questioning where to next? There are small reflectors stuck on the rocks to guide you as you climb your way over and around the rocks, to reach the base of the falls.
If you head to Minyon Falls, there is a great little japanese cafe; Federal Doma, on the way. Such an unexpected surprise to find such a fabulous little place in Federal, a tiny little town.
* Special note: Maybe check in at the visitor centre first about what the recent rainfall in the area has been like, as there may not be any water at the bottom of these falls...
Other options a little further away include Whian Whian Falls and Protestors Falls (note there is no swimming Protestors to protect endangered wildlife). Jerusalem NP is behind Mullumbimby and has some great hikes and bush walks for the more adventurous with water holes and creeks.
Further afar - Springbrook National Park just over the border into Queensland has loads of gorgeous walking trails and stunning waterfalls and is a great day trip from Byron Bay. Border Ranges National Park in Kyogle is about an hour or so inland from Byron Bay and has some spectacular walks and views.
Explore Byron Bay run guided Aboriginal tours hosted by local Arakwal Bunjalung woman Delta Kay. These tours take place around Cape Byron, Bangalow or Broken Head. These tours are a fantastic way to learn Arakwal history and the significance of the area. Delta teaches some Bundjalung language as well as shares information about bush tucker and natural medicines.
Vision Walks offer a range of tours including a night vision walk (with night vision goggles!), a koala tour and a platypus walk.
4. Live Music, Buskers and Drum Circle (update...some of these may not be happening at the moment due to COVID restrictions)
Byron Bay is a melting pot of people and if you enjoy music and dancing you're going to love Byron Bay. Walking along the main street there's usually a musician busker or two (or more), particularly down the alley near the bakery. Tones and I, who now has a number one hit with Dance Monkey, cut her teeth busking in Byron Bay and her film clip for Johnny Ran Away shows footage throughout the Byron Area.
The hulu-hooping-pineapple-holding man is also a regular treat for the eyes out the front of the Northern.
If you head along the path between main beach and Belongil Beach in the late afternoon before sunset, you'll usually find the rhythmic beats of the drum circle. A gathering of eclectic music lovers creating beats for gatherers to enjoy and even have an impromptu dance.
In the park overlooking Main Beach there is often a busker of a late afternoon which makes it a great spot to grab some delicious take-away (we love Orgasmic Falafel pockets which are in the alley behind the Beach Hotel) while chilling out and watching the beautiful colours across the ocean as the sun fades.
Pubs and restaurants regularly have live music. The Beach Hotel is a live music hotspot with something on daily and is a great setting to chill and listen, or get up for a dance. The Northern Hotel also puts on regular gigs, as does The Rails. A great spot to chill, listen to some music while munching on some delicious wood-fired pizza is at The Treehouse on Belongil.
5. Visit Surrounding Towns and Slow Things Down
Brunswick Heads is a sweet little town less than 10 minutes drive north of Byron Bay (once on the highway) and just out of town is where we run our daily Byron Stand Up Paddle Nature Tour. This town is so sweet that a whole flock of fairies have decided to make it their home as well!
You can find the free trail clues at the visitor information centre or by jumping on their Brunzfairies Facebook page.
It's fantastic to see a community get together for something so lovely. The Police Station has a little fairy police station out the front, the Fire Station has a fire engine with wings in the trees, there's houses hidden in trees and in shop fronts, the post office even has a post box with a toadstool handle that when you open is decked out like a fairy's bedroom. Great for young ones, and the young at heart!
Brunswick Heads is a great place to visit before or after your SUP tour with us to grab a coffee or a bite to eat (lots of cute cafe options - Hoopers has epic burgers, Bruns Bakery is AMAZING with a cabinet full of deliciousness (check out the pic below), or grab a yummy gelato from In the Pink). There are also a great mix of independent stores to check out. The Hotel Brunswick is a beautiful old brick pub across the road from the river. It has an outdoor beer garden area which is perfect for enjoying free live music, particularly on Sundays from 4.30pm.
Want to find out more about what Brunswick Heads has to offer? Check out our post Best Things to do in Brunswick Heads
Lennox Head has a fabulous headland that's perfect for watching the surfers, paragliders, dolphins, and from July through to November, the frolicking whales. There's a great walkway from town that takes you all the way up to the headland, as well as carparks on the headland itself. The headland is an excellent picnic spot for sunrise or sunset.
Lennox Head has some great cafes and boutique shops too. This is also where you will find Lake Ainsworth, a beautiful calm tea tree stained, fresh water lake that is a popular spot with families and is great for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding. It's said the tea tree waters do wonders for the skin and hair. There's also the beach just across the road for a salt water swim and some body surfing to mix it on up. There are great BBQ and picnic facilities here making it a great day out. It is worth noting though that the lake can be affected by blue green algae at times, so be sure to check official websites for information before heading in for a dip.
Keen to hire some paddle boards? We can drop off and pick off SUPs to you at Lake Ainsworth (if available around our Byron Stand Up Paddle Nature Tours).
Ballina is a bit more of a commercial hub, with the airport and shopping centres. Ballina is also a great place if you're looking for things to do with families around Byron Bay. Shelly Beach has fabulous rock pools which you and the kids could spend hours exploring.
Shaws Bay is a great little enclosed body of water that is still tidal through the water movement through the rock wall for the river mouth. This is salt water, with no waves and is great for kids. On high tide you can even enjoy some snorkelling along the rock wall. There are lots of flat paths around Shaws Bay too, making it great for kids on bikes and scooters. Wanting to hire some boards to do some paddle boarding while in Byron Bay? We can drop off and pick off stand up paddle boards to you at Shaws Bay (if available around our Byron Stand Up Paddle Nature Tours).
Ballina also has a disc golf/frisbee golf course set up in parkland which is free to play at anytime. BYO frisbees (which you can buy or hire from the local Ballina Visitor Centre) and you've got yourself some family fun. Pack a picnic and some insect repellent as there are wetlands around.
If you like BIG THINGS, there's a BIG PRAWN to take a snap with in Ballina. It used to be part of a tourist service centre, now it randomly sits next to Bunnings on the outskirts of town. Speaking of prawns... Ballina has some great fresh seafood co-ops out near the big prawn.
6. Beaches, beaches, beaches
What would be a list of things to do in Byron Bay without mentioning the beautiful beaches. There are plenty of stunning beaches to explore in Byron Bay and to soak up the sunshine and stunning views.
Belongil Beach is to the left of main beach (when standing on the sand gazing into the ocean) and is the beach (hidden by houses) to your left as you drive into town. Belongil Beach is partly dog-friendly. The wreck of the SS Wollongbar is just north of the rock wall and is a great place to snorkel when the sea is calm.
Main beach is directly in front of the town centre, and continues right to Clarkes Beach. Main Beach is looked over by the Surf Club and is Surf Lifesavers patrolled beach. From here you can snorkel out to a wreck the Tassie II (more accurately it's been discovered is the Tassie lll)
Between Main Beach and The Pass, is where you'll find Clarkes Beach and being north-facing it's a great spot most of the year. In winter humpback whales have been known to frolic with their calves on their way back to the Antarctic.
The Pass is a gap between Fisherman's Lookout and the headland. It is one of the most popular surf break on the north coast. On low tide you can walk up the stairs on the tiny island to the Fisherman's Lookout.
Wategos is a popular, sheltered north-facing beach just over a small headland from Clarkes. It is accessed via Lighthouse Road by turning left into Brooke Drive. It can also sometimes also be accessed by walking along the beach. Wategos has free electric barbecues and picnic tables.
Little Wategos can only be accessed by walking over the path from Wategos or down from the lighthouse. This is a lovely sheltered spot which is overlooked by the lighthouse.
Cosy Corner is on the south side of the cape and a nice sheltered spot when the northerly winds are in force. The beach is accessible from Tallow Beach Road, where you'll need to pay for parking (which goes to National Parks). This is a popular surfing spot, and it's worth noting it sometimes has strong rips. This is a great spot for watching the hang-gliders.
Tallow Beach stretches south from Cosy Corner to Broken Head. Tallow Beach is accessible by walking south from Cosy Corner, or from several small car parks off Alcorn Street in Suffolk Park.
Whites Beach - Broken Head
Whites Beach is a hidden gem if you're up for an adventure. Situated at the southern end of Broken Head, Whites Beach is only accessible by a dirt road and then a 15 minute walk along a rainforest track over the headland. Come prepared for some steep hiking and be sure to pack water and food.
(6.a) Get out IN and ON the Ocean
- Surfing, Kayaking, Diving, Snorkelling, Cruising
(6a? What is this 6a business? Ok so keeping to just 10 things is pretty hard in a great area like Byron so we snuck in some subsections...)
Byron Bay beaches are a great place to try surfing and there are surf schools a-go-go that would love to get you out there.
Dolphins and whales love it around Byron Bay too and you can head out in a kayak with Cape Byron Kayaks or Go Sea Kayak Byron Bay, or go cruising with Out of the Blue Adventures in search of hanging with these fun loving creatures up close... Out of the blue Adventures offer a mix of river and ocean tours all guided by a marine biologist to give you the inside scoop.
Then there's what's under the water... there's some fabulous diving and snorkelling around Julian Rocks.
SPECIAL NOTE: Any tours relying on Mother Nature are best booked for days at the beginning of your holiday, that way if the tour company needs to reschedule you've still got days available to move your booking.
Northerly winds can cause havoc for tour operators in Byron Bay, ocean activities are often cancelled due to northerlies. Byron Stand Up Paddle has protection from these northerly winds, with the twists and bends of the Brunswick River, and can still operate.
7. Shopping and Artisan Alcohol
Byron is a hub for creatives and there are many designers and artisans in the area. Here you could find all sorts of unique items to decorate yourself or decorate your home. The world of fashion in Byron Bay has everything from tie dye to the dreamy boho floral dresses of Spell.
In the Arts and Industrial centre on the outskirts of town keen shoppers can find many a treasure and you'll also find delicious food to devour in hidden cafes and even 2 breweries - Stone and Wood Brewery and Byron Brewery. If beer is your thing, there's another brewery a little further inland in Mullumbimby - Wandana Brewing Co.
Speaking of alcohol... just out of town you'll find a local gin distillery; Cape Byron Distillery - home of Brookie's Gin. Check them out if you're interested in doing a tour and tastings.
If you want to take it easy and have a designated driver show you around to the breweries and distilleries , Behind the Barrel run tours.
Markets! Markets! Markets! Checking out the markets is definitely one of the best things to do in Byron Bay...
These are the most popular markets in the region but you'd be able to find markets around somewhere in the region every weekend...
Byron Farmers Markets are every Thursday morning 7am to 11am usually at the Butler Street Reserve, but currently at the Cavanbah Centre. The Byron Magic Bus will be running round trips from Jonson St bus shelter – near the Visitor Centre and Railway Park – out to the Cav every half hour from 7.30am, every Thursday. $2 each way for adults, kids travel free.
Byron Twighlight Market is on every Saturday 4pm - 9pm through Spring and Summer at the Railway Park.
Monthly Byron Bay markets are held on the first Sunday of every month usually at the Butler Street Reserve, but currently along the pathway near Main Beach. During January they're held more regularly along the beachfront pathway.
Channon markets are held on the second Sunday of the month at the Channon, via Lismore.
Bangalow markets are held on the 4th Sunday of the month at the Bangalow showgrounds.
8. Check out the local art scene
There are a lot of very talented and created souls living in Northern NSW and there are plenty of wonderful art galleries displaying their work from Ballina through to Murwillumbah.
Craig Parry Photography has a shop in town housing a beautiful collection of work captured around the shire and beyond. He grew up in the Byron Bay area and has made quite a name for himself with underwater and nature photography.
Then there's the street art - Just walking around the streets of Byron you'll get to see some awesome street art down laneways, alleys, at bus stops and on fences.
There are so many amazing food options in Byron Bay for all kinds of foodies... Get out there and enjoy!
Here's a couple that we've repeatedly heard great things about from our customers on our Byron Stand Up Paddle Nature Tour and that we are keen to try ASAP
Miss Margarita - Mexican... so many glowing reviews. I believe they don't take bookings but will text when a table becomes available. Happy hour from 5pm-6pm.
di Vino - your italian feas awaits
Bang Bang - Delicious Asian fusion
Orgasmic Falafel - Easy and delicious takeaway to enjoy at the park.
Elixiba - fancy and delicious
No Bones - cosy and hard to believe it's all plant products. The "calamari" is amazing.
Curl up in the shade of a tree and have a siesta, chill poolside with a book or simply take in all the beauty around you. SO simple but, OH SO GOOD. Make the time to do some relaxing this Byron holiday...aaaaaaah
The Farm at Byron Bay is a great place to take a relaxing stroll (particularly with little ones) to check out the cute animals; pigs and piglets rolling in mud, chickens and the most adorable highland cows. You can also wander through the macadamia nut plantation and crack a few in the vice provided. They do organised tours, but you can also just stroll around at your leisure.
You can always take the relaxation to the next level and book a massage or spa treatments too. You deserve it!
Whatever you choose to do in Byron Bay, we hope you have a wonderful stay and we look forward to meeting you on our Byron Stand Up Paddle Nature Tour or seeing you again next time, whichever the case may be.
Byron Stand Up Paddle Nature Tour
Send an enquiry to check start times and availability for your preferred day.