If you’re looking for the most chilled place in Australia (minus the traffic in and out) Byron Bay is the destination for you. Known for its alternative lifestyle, Byron is the holy land of the backpacker with 1.7 million tourists visiting per year. Campervans line the streets as surfers drag their boards around, while others dine alfresco on Byron’s favoured dish, the vegan falafel.
You see where we’re going. You think Australian hippie, you think Byron. Even if you’re not particularly into falafels or surfing or the vegan lifestyle there’s still heaps for you to enjoy in this famous east coast town.
We visited Byron as part of our Sydney to Brisbane east coast road trip, so if you’re like us and only had a small amount of time to enjoy it, here’s our whistle-stop highlights.
Like any famous beach in Australia, it attracts hoards of people. If you’re looking for a quiet, remote beach then maybe look further along the coast!
That said, it’s a hub for surfers and sunbathers alike so there’s definitely an atmosphere. Plus the water is gorgeous – the turquoise really strikes you when you’re up on the boardwalk. If you’re looking for a more active visit to Byron there are heaps of surf schools, kayak tours and dive trips. It’s not like you’ll run out of things to do!
One thing to note, especially if you’re coming from Melbourne, is the current is a lot stronger! Even in the shallows, I felt I was being pulled down the beach quite a lot. So it’s definitely best staying within the red and yellow flags and obeying the lifeguards.
After having a swim, the beach is the perfect spot to try out the local fish and chips, grab a seat and enjoy the view. Fishheads (on the waterfront) is ideal for take-out or for dining in on something more special, they even have a happy hour menu!
We think we’re the only people to have visited Byron Bay and spent more time in the air than in the water. The pictures of hang gliding over the ocean were enough to seal the deal and we booked there and then.
We went with Byron Airwaves the most popular hang gliding school. We had an awesome experience with Brian and Steve and would honestly recommend it to everyone. They’ve got over 35 years of experience and we felt safe and secure throughout the whole process. Not sure how this happened but even Dan threw himself off the deck and into the air.
Setting off up at the lighthouse point, it’s a 20/30 minute scenic glide over Byron Bay’s coastal national park. The views are worth every cent – we got to control and ‘drive’ the glider over the dense rainforest canopy and then land onto the soft sand of the beach, next to glistening ocean. Dan was lucky enough to spot a school of dolphins surfing the waves. It isn’t something we’ll forget quickly! (And if we do, a video of your whole flight is recorded on the day. Bonus).
If you want to enjoy the views but keep your feet firmly planted on the ground then heading up to the lighthouse is still worth a visit. It offers a great vantage point of the town, the structure is also Australia’s most easterly point.
If you have transport we’d recommend a visit to Brunswick Heads. You can always book and catch a coach from the Byron Bay coach station so all is not lost if you don’t have a car!
We read recommendations for the area and that you could swim and even snorkel in the Brunswick Heads river. We were paddling around with heaps of fish and you can also rent kayaks or SUP boards for the hour/day.
It’s a lovely place to visit and with safe little alcoves for kids, it’s perfect for a family day out. The beach is also dog-friendly, so we had a lush day of swimming then watching dogs swim in the ocean and horses swimming in the river.