25 Best Things To Do In Byron Bay & Nearby 2023 Guide
Discover loads of things to do in Byron Bay in New South Wales that go beyond sitting on the beach! In this guide, I’m sharing my experience to help you prepare for an action packed holiday that involving heaps of Byron Bay attractions, visits to the hidden gems in the Byron Bay Hinterland and so much more.
If you’ve been wondering what to do in Byron Bay, fear not… you’ll be coming back to this page time and time again. We’ve visited the Northern Rivers region so many times over the years, so we’ve compiled everything you need to know in this post. Bookmark it right now!
In this guide, expect everything from the Cape Byron Lighthouse walk, the famous Byron Community Market, best Byron parties, waterfalls, beautiful towns to visit nearby and so much more!
Table of Contents
What makes Byron Bay special?
Wondering what Byron Bay is best known for? While it’s the most popular coastal town in Australia and the most expensive place to live in the country, there’s a reason why. And we’re not talking about the Netflix show Byron Baes, even if only one of the cast members actually lives in the area (we were told this by a local!).
There are so many things to do in Byron Bay, but one of the main draw cards are the legendary beaches. In my experience, the town has a proper holiday feel to it unlike anywhere else in Australia, and you’ll find a mixture of people gravitating towards this small beach town.
Expect Instagrammers, hippies (although there somewhat seems very few these days), schoolies, entrepreneurs and lots of city people who have moved up here since Covid (might be an unpopular choice for the locals, understandably).
It’s not just about the beaches here, we reckon Byron Bay is home to some of the best food in Australia. Honestly, it’s pretty rare to find crappy food here. Plus! One of our favourite places to visit is the Byron Bay Hinterland, which is totally underrated. It really is stunning and worth venturing around to see the gorgeous villages, waterfalls and so much more which we’ll talk more about in this guide.
How many days should I spend in Byron Bay?
Every time we come to Byron Bay, we always say how we wish we had longer here because there are so many Byron Bay activities you can tick off. I would personally spend about five days in the area, but if you can, you might like to stay longer. Hire a car if you’re not doing a road trip, as we really do recommend getting out of the town and seeing what the nearby areas have to offer.
A trip to Byron Bay isn’t complete without booking this legendary kayak with dolphins tour! Kayaking is one of the best Byron Bay activities, and is something everyone needs to experience! This is because the likelihood of bumping into some dolphins along the way is almost a given. It’s a long standing legendary kayaking tour that takes you right out into the ocean where you might see some dolphins and whales if you’re visiting during the whale migration season (between June – November).
2. Learn to surf in the legendary Byron Bay
Byron Bay in New South Wales is the perfect place to learn to surf in Australia, and the place many backpackers wait to learn as it’s not as intimidating as Bondi for example.
The waves generally are quite small which makes it a great spot for anyone looking to gain confidence in the surf. Pre-book this small group learn to surf lesson as the teacher will be able to spend more time in helping you get on the board quickly.
3. Jump out of a plane and go sky diving in Byron Bay
There’s about four places along the East Coast of Australia where backpackers tick off the bucket list sky dive and Byron Bay is one of the top ones. It’s no surprise as the views would be epic over the most popular beach town in Australia! Pre-book your sky dive in Byron Bay here as they book up quickly!
4. Bucket list snorkel with turtles
Did you know Byron Bay is home to marine life that is found in the Great Barrier Reef and in the deep Southern Ocean? Jump on this snorkel with turtles tour and you’ll be greeted with incredible snorkelling found in Julian Rocks, making it one of the best Byron Bay activities.
5. Learn to scuba dive in Byron Bay with similar views as Great Barrier Reef
Ever wanted to learn to scuba dive? Well, you can go scuba diving in Byron! This famous scuba diving tour in Byron will take you around the famous Julian Rocks Marine Reserve where you’ll be able to learn all about the sea life in Australia while witnessing similar views to what you would see scuba diving in Great Barrier Reef.
6. Go whale watching in Byron Bay with a marine biologist
One of the most popular Byron Bay attractions is to go whale watching! If you’re visiting between June – November, the possibilities are endless to witness the breathtaking whale migration as the humpback whales pass up and down the East Coast of Australia in their natural habitat. It’s an incredible experience, so pre-book the whale watching tour here before it sells out.
6. Go on a paddle boarding nature tour
Fancy floating down the Brunswick River on a SUP Paddle Boarding Tour? Whether you’re nursing a hangover or looking for something calming to do when wondering what to do in Byron Bay, book this SUP Tour ahead here.
7. Visit the Cape Byron Lighthouse at sunrise
One of the best things to do in Byron Bay NSW is to walk the Cape Byron Walking Track to the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse at sunrise. Either walk from Byron Bay town centre and along the Cape Byron Walking Track, or you can drive up. If you’re walking, it’s going to take about 1 hour as you’ll want to stop and take photos along the way. If you’re driving up to the top of the Byron Bay Lighthouse, getting a car park is very limited and you have to pay for parking as well.
You might like to go at sunrise as well and see the expansive views over to Tallow Beach in Arakwal National Park, which is a legendary Byron Bay view. When you walk from the Byron Bay Lighthouse, you’ll continue down to the most Eastern point of Australia’s mainland which is super cool! This means you’ll be the first to see the sunrise on the east coast being the easternmost point of Australia.
The Byron Bay Lighthouse closes in the evening so you can only drive up to the parking area opp Tallows Beach as they close the gates to the top.
8. Best Byron Bay Beaches
Byron Bay is home to some of the best beaches in New South Wales, but which one is the best? With so many beaches to choose from, don’t make the same mistake I made when I first came to Byron Bay and just go to Main Beach.
With pristine beaches to choose from, personally my favourite beach in Byron Bay is Wategos Beach. There’s something quite magical about it and if you time it right, you’ll be able to walk over to Little Wategos Beach on the right hand side which is almost completely secluded. Continue on to the right and you’ll find some awesome rock pools to swim in.
On the opposite end of the main beach is Belongil Beach which is dog friendly and feels a bit more open. The Pass is a popular surfing spot as well as Clarkes Beach and Tallow Beach is a gorgeous long beach to get away from it all in Arakwal National Park which stretches from Cosy Corner to Broken Head and is a 4 mile beach.
If you’re really looking to get away from the crowds and have a car, go check out the amazing beaches in Broken Head Nature Reserve. We’ve been to Whites Beach and it kinda reminded us of the beautiful beaches in Agnes Water which is where we used to live.
9. Hang out at the Byron Bay markets
There are so many excellent Byron Bay markets to go to, so luckily we’ve found out when they are all on.
Byron Bay Community Market -1st Sunday of every month is the biggest market in the Byron Shire, selling jewellery, fresh produce, takeaway food, plants, furniture etc.
Byron Bay Farmer’s Market – Every Thursday morning from 7-11am selling fresh local produce from local farmers.
Byron Bay Twilight Market – Every Saturday night in Byron Bay town centre at the Railway Park between 4pm-9pm from Oct – last Saturday before Easter with local arts & crafts etc.
Mullumbimby Farmers Markets – Fridays from 7-11am at the Mullumbimby Showgrounds for local produce, breakfast etc.
Bangalow Markets – on the fourth Sunday of every month, Bangalow is transformed into a massive market selling everything from crafts, food, local produce and so much more.
10. Take the Cumbebin Swamp Wetlands Boardwalk
Did you know Byron Bay used to be all swamp land? They’ve kept a small pocket of it known as the Cumbebin Wetlands and have created a boardwalk which is worth checking out. Best of all you don’t need a car so you can just walk over from town (it’s about a 10 minute walk).
Located just a 10 minute walk from Byron Bay, it’s somewhere you can take a sneak peak into some of Australia’s wildlife including birds and frogs. Just make sure you wear mossie repellent, especially if you’re visiting in Summer.
11. Party in Byron
Turns out Byron Bay is home to some legendary parties but to know where and when is all about getting to know the locals. I’ve heard these parties can go on for days at a time!
If you don’t have any luck, there’s loads of places to party in Byron itself. The Beach Hotel is the main pub in town which draws in the crowds and live music. Also worth checking out Woodys Surf Shack, Treehouse and of course Cheeky Monkeys for the backpackers (it’s been there since I was backpacking around Australia in 2006!).
The Rails is one of the last remaining original Byron pubs with live music, but last time we visited, it was full of 18 year olds which was very different to what we saw maybe 5-7 years ago. And for those looking for more upmarket, Loft is the place to go for more of a swanky vibe and cocktails.
12. Go to a Byron Bay Festival
Bryon Bay is home to some of Australia’s best music festivals. If you’re visiting Byron Bay during the festival period or even during school holidays, it will obviously be pretty busy here. Personally I’d head to all of the below festivals as the line ups are really impressive!
The Falls Festival takes place over New Years’ and brings in a crowd 18-30 year olds (we were in Byron around this time and saw lots of teenagers all dressed up in their best festival gear). They usually have a cracking dance music line up too!
Bluesfest Byron Bay is a massively legendary festival which brings in an older crowd of 30+ and takes place in April. Previous line ups have included BB King and Bob Dylan.
There are some excellent independent shops in Byron Bay that the locals have kept out the majority of major retailers. We love Spell for their classic boho Aussie style – it’s worth popping into just to get an Instagram picture and of course Island Luxe. They have a store in Bangalow as well, and it’s an Instagrammer’s dream.
Once you’re all shopped out, head up to The Balcony Bar with a glass of wine to people watch.
14. Visit The Farm In Byron Bay
The Farm is a bit comparable to The Grounds in Sydney but it’s actually set on a real farm (run by the same owners at The Three Blue Ducks). While lunch is quite expensive here these days (think $40+ for a meal), you can just grab something from their cafe instead like a toastie and sit out on the picnic benches. You can also bring your own picnic here and sit on the grass. It’s a great day trip if you’re hiring a bike from Byron Bay too.
15. Find the best Byron Bay restaurants
So we’ve raved about the amazing food in Byron Bay that we needed to write a whole separate post about our favourite places to eat. Some standouts include, The Roadhouse, Treehouse, Bay Leaf (they do the BEST breakfast), Folk and of course Raes in Byron Bay. Recently we went to Daughter In Law and it was excellent too. Check out our complete Best Byron Bay Restaurants Guide to help you plan the amazing cafes and restaurants for your next trip.
Day trips from Byron Bay
We’ve also listed loads of awesome things to do near Byron Bay as well. Some of the attractions include tours so you don’t need a car. Make sure you read until the end because we mention some of the absolute best things to do in Byron Bay with these fantastic day trips!
16. Check out some of the nearby towns
You absolutely must visit the Byron Bay Hinterland. There’s something absolutely amazing about it that you really need to see it for yourself, which is one of my favourite things to do in Byron Bay.
There’s loads of small towns to visit, and here are our favourites:
This is a beautiful little town, home to those amazing monthly markets. It’s a bit more up market than other towns, but it’s somewhere we would personally live if we were moving to the area. If you’re not driving, jump on this Byron Bay Hinterland tour which includes a visit to Crystal Castle and Bangalow.
I really love Federal which is near Crystal Castle. Although the town is tiny, the drive out to there is stunning and what’s worth the visit it to the amazing Federal Doma Cafe. The Japanese/Australian fusion food is absolutely brilliant!
This is a brilliant coastal town just 10 minutes from Byron. It’s like a mini Byron Bay without the crowds and has become really cool in the last few years. Think vintage clothes shops, vintage furniture shops, trendy cafes, and a super cute cinema. I would live here in a heartbeat!
Mullwillumbah and Uki
I just love Mullwillumbah and Uki. Go check out the M-Arts Precint, it’s a really cool space to check out local artists works. And Uki is just stunning. It’s home to the Mount Warning walk (currently closed at the time of writing) loads of swimming holes and a Krishna Centre I really want to check out. It’s easily one of our favourite places in the Northern Rivers by a mile.
17. Go to Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens
There’s something pretty special about Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens which is a beautiful place to visit in the Hinterland. The main attraction is it’s home to two of the largest crystals in the world. The Shambhala Gardens are absolutely gorgeous to walk around, expect bamboo everywhere! The cafe serves up some of THE best veggie food in Byron as well! Pre-book your Crystal Castle half-day trip from Byron here, as it gets booked up fast.
18. Explore the epic walks in Byron Bay Hinterland
Looking for some adventure? I must tell you, the hinterland between Byron Bay and Gold Coast is absolutely spectacular. Seriously, I think this is the best area to hike on the East Coast of Australia, nature lovers will love it here!
Wondering why? The region is home to parts of the rainforest from the Gondwana era, which means it’s around 550 million years old. Literally step back in time and enjoy the walks here. There’s heaps of Byron Bay waterfalls to discover, here are some of them to hike to below.
19. Hike around Minyon Falls
Head over to World Heritage Listed Nightcap National Park to the incredible Minyon Falls! It takes just under an hour to hike there but it’s worth the drive out there because that in itself is incredible.
If you’d feel more comfortable tackling the hike to the bottom pre-book this popular Minyon Falls tour which will take you right down to the bottom for a swim, and you’ll stop off in Bangalow for a visit as well.
20. Whian Whian Falls
Whian Whian Falls is located just a little further on from Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park. It’s a local faovurite swimming hole, and is especially good for cooling off in the heat of the Summer.
21. Visit the Insta worthy Killen Falls
Fancy getting the perfect Instagram shot to say you’ve been to Byron Bay? Head out to the stunning Killen Falls and stand behind the famous waterfall. The walking track is only 1km return long so you won’t have to commit to an entire day to visit it. Find out more in our guide, 15 Tips For Visiting Killen Falls.
22. Hike to the lesser known Protester Falls
Protester Falls is another locals favourite and is hidden further into Nightcap National Park. It takes about 1h30m to get to the bottom but make sure you are super careful, never put yourself in danger and read this post before going to check if it’s currently open.
23. Go cliff jumping and visit the glow worms
If you’ve never seen glow worms before, you’ve got the chance to now see them! Pre-book this awesome glow worms tour and let a local show you the hidden Byron Bay! The tour includes cliff jumping and swimming in natural swimming pools in the afternoon before getting ready to experience rare glow worms in the wild!
23. Visit the wonderful hidden gem of Kiva Spa in Mullumbimby
You know when you have one of those ‘go to places’ every time you visit a town? Yep, Kiva Spa is one of them for us and it’s only $30 for a hour at the time of writing. When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by a Balinese vibe, fairy lights and incense flowing throughout the spa.
There’s loads of jacuzzi’s dotted around with a steam room but best of all, the authentic sauna is incredible. I’m not even a fan of saunas usually… but wow, this one is on another level. You have to crawl into it and the energy inside is insane. It’s worth visiting just to experience this sauna alone, and that’s coming from someone who usually suffers from claustrophobia.
24. Macadamia Castle
Macadamia Castle is a great day trip from Byron Bay and it’s just a 20 minute drive from town. This is a perfect family activity in Byron Bay and if you do anything, just make sure you visit the gift shop to stock up on loads of macadamia products
25. Head over to Nimbin
Nimbin has been a hugely popular spot for people specifically wanting to buy weed. What you might not know is the drive from Byron Bay takes an hour but it’s stunning.
When we arrived into Nimbin, we were greeted by a sketchy dude who asked us if we wanted to buy weed. We laughed it off not specifically going to Nimbin for that reason. Backpackers stood awkwardly on the streets trying to build up the courage to buy some, and to be honest, we got back into the car after about five minutes of walking around.
There’s a mixture of tour buses with everyone from backpackers to the oldies walking around and there’s something that just doesn’t quite feel right about this place. But, it’s one of those places you have to see for yourself.
Byron Bay Accommodation
Wondering where to stay now we’ve covered your long list of Byron bay attractions? Here’s our top places to stay in Byron Bay.
Luxury: Crystalbrook Byron (formerly Byron at Byron) beautiful resort with infinity pool, farm to plate dining opposite Tallow Beach.
Mid-range: The Lord Byron is located 500m from the centre of town with free bike hire and surfboard hire too!
Backpacker: Byron Bay YHA is in the middle of the town centre, has a pool and is located next to some of the best cafes in the area – aka Bay Leaf!
More Byron Bay guides to read
Check out the rest of our Byron Bay guides to help you plan your trip!
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