Byron Bay was on my list of places to visit in Australia since we moved here! I wanted to make somewhat of an occasion out of it as it is not the cheapest place to go on holiday. Accommodation is expensive, food ends up being expensive because you just want to eat out everywhere and when you are somewhere so beautiful you want to make the most out of it!
There are a few different ways to get to Byron depending on your circumstance and where you are coming from. If possible I would definitely recommend hiring a car (we used Alpha car hire and they were great!) as it makes it easy to get to Byron from whatever airport you fly into ( Brisbane – 2hr drive, Gold Coast – 1hr drive, Ballina – 20mins) and its also really handy for getting around the town and area!
However, there are other options such as the Skybus, Shuttles, Buses, Taxi’s (from Ballina) or you can hire a private car if that is your jam. All the airports have a range of services which are easy to find once you come out of the arrivals gate.
TIPS – Hire Car
It is worth mentioning that if you are hiring a car that parking in the town center is pricey! However, there are FREE parking areas of the town which are really close by and walking distance to the main areas.
These areas are: Butler Street Precinct, School Precinct, and Tennyson St/ Massinger St Preciinct. Here is a map of all the parking zones.
Oh the options.
Depending on your price bracket, there are SO many places to stay in Byron Bay and surrounding areas. We personally stayed in Suffolk Park in an Airbnb (you can get a discount using my link )because it was the easiest option for us and we had a car. However for a lower price bracket I have heard great things about these hostels:
– Arts Factory Lodge –
– Wake Up! Byron Bay –
– Byron Bay & Cape Byron YHA’s –
Hostels are not only a great price but they have really good events on, bars and its a way to connect with other travelers.
WHAT TO DO
Whether you are having a chilled holiday, an active holiday or an adventure holiday there are SO many things to do in Byron. I could have stayed here for weeks exploring all the different beaches and towns around the place alone!
Cape Byron Walk + Lighthouse Tour
The Cape Byron walk was always on my list of things to do whilst in Byron as it is beautiful and the whole way around just has spectacular views. However, I didn’t even know there were lighthouse tours but we managed to walk straight into one which was great. The ladies who take the tours are very knowledgeable not only about the lighthouse but Byron in general and it was really interesting. Highly recommend doing this if you can!
This, unfortunately I did not get to do whilst in Byron. However I spoke to enough people whilst I was there to know that it is a MUST do and is something that I will 100% do when I go next time. Diving and snorkeling at Julian Rocks Marine Reserve is one of the few places in Australia where you can swim with sea life found at the Great Barrier Reef & the southern ocean. Definitely a must do if you can.
Kayaking with Cape Byron Kayaks
Sea kayaking is something I had not done in many years before this trip but it was something that I thought would be a fun activity. With the weather not really cooperating the whole time we were there I was worried we wouldn’t actually make it but thankfully on this one day it decided to change, we had the sunniest day and got really sunburnt (TIP: Sunblock your legs folks).
The kayaking itself is a few hours long and you are out on the ocean looking for turtles and dolphins. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any however they do have a guarantee so we can always go back next time and give it another shot.
TIP: Book the kayaking for the start of your trip so that if you do miss out on seeing dolphins you can book again for later in your trip to try again!
Do you like hiking? This one is for you. The route is about 13kms around a loop. The waterfall itself is a little hard to get to and I think a lot of people probably miss it as you do have to do a bit of rock climbing to get there. Its also worth mentioning that there are shorter walks to and from the waterfall depending on where you park.
Unfortunately for us, the waterfall was dry so it was more of a pond with no waterfall so I would probably advise going at a different time of the year if the waterfall is what you are after. In saying that, it’s still a very beautiful national park and the walk is nice! So go and do it anyway.
The Crystal Castle in the Shambhala Gardens certainly looks amazing. We did decide against going here as we had limited time and it wasn’t really up our street however, if Crystals are something you enjoy, it would be a good place to stop on the way to or from Minyon Falls as you drive right past it. Next time, I may go there as I am a sucker for a nice garden, cafe and crystal cave!
SO MANY BEACHES. I wish the weather had been better to spend more time at all of the beautiful beaches but we were just unlucky. However that didn’t stop us from sunset swimming because thankfully the water was still really warm. My top pics would be:
– Byron Bay Main Beach
– Wategos Beach
– Tallows Beach
I don’t think would be a very byron post without mentioning the Markets. We were lucky enough that there were a few markets on the weekend that we were there and they are pretty much what you would expect. Lots of good food, vegan gelato, cute little hippy baby clothes… etc. My favourite was the night market at Railway Park. So many cool stands and it was nice to sit, drink coffee and people watch.
I thought I would add this in as a little added extra. Nimbin in my opinion is a must visit. This place is like something out of a 90s TV show, really. There is so much colour, murals, shops for the ‘alternative’ as they call it and just all around very chilled vibes! We stopped in here for a couple of hours on our way to Byron and had lunch at Oasis Cafe.
The food was delish and it was full to the brim with locals. Take what you wish from that but for an authentic Nimbin experience, just go here. It was great!
100 Mile Table –This was probably one of my top places I visited whilst in Byron. Its a little bit out of the town center so wasn’t swarmed with tourists, just a few locals chilling and doing work which was a really nice change of pace. The food was really delicious and they have a philosophy of food that is local, seasonal and sustainable. Win Win!
Bay Kebabs –A kebab, is a kebab really. Yes, it was really good but if anything I would come back here just for the customer service. The guys who work here are really cool and friendly! 5 star.
The Balcony Bar and Oyster Co –Although this is somewhere we only went for Happy Hour Cocktails, I would definitely come back. Service was good, location is amazing and the prices are pretty good!
Suffolk Park Bakery – Really, you put a bakery on this list? Yes, yes I did. Why? Because its absolutely delicious. We came back here… 3 times for breakfast/ coffee whilst staying in Byron. Not only because it was local to us but honestly the food was really good!
Try and get there early if you can because by say, 10am on a saturday you will be waiting in line for a while!
The Farm Byron Bay –There is a reason that this place shows up as number 1 on many a byron bay travel list. Because it is really cool. We came for lunch on the way back from Minyon Falls but it was quite late and the restaurant had closed so we got a few things from the bakery part and I am glad we did because the food was really good!
The farm itself has cows, chickens, pigs etc which you can go and have a look at as well as vege gardens where all the produce is produced. Its really pretty! They have guided tours and a gift shop but I would recommend just going and having a walk around.
Ill buco Pizza –This one is a bit of a fav with the locals I think. The great thing about this place is that not only do they have good pizza, they also have BYO so get a bottle of wine on your way and you will have a fairly cheap and delish dinner with a few drinks.
Bayleaf Cafe – I don’t think you can go to Byron without going for an authentic brunch. There are so many great places to choose from so really, our deciding factor was the wait time. But really, so glad we decided on Bayleaf. If you like a bulletproof or just a regular Latte, the coffee is for you. The brunch food itself was really nice and what you would expect from this type of cafe having all the usual suspects… avo on toast anyone?
My other top picks would have been:
– Byron Fresh
–Sunday Sustainable Bakery
Bayger – Delicious burgers at a great price, good service and by the lines that were happening, a local favourite. If you like a good burger that can be eaten right by the beach, check this out.
All in all, I loved Byron. I do think it is a bit of a shame that such a beautiful place is such a tourist hot spot but it thankfully hasn’t lost its charm. I for one can’t wait to go back and I think if I had my way, I would move there and live that lifestyle in a heartbeat.
If there is anything I have missed or places you think I should put on this list, let me know and I will be sure to check them out next time!!