The 10 Absolute Best Things to Do in Byron Bay
Whether you’re in Byron for a day or a month, make the most of your time with our ultimate bucket list of the best things to do while you’re in town.
There’s no shortage of awesome things to do in Byron Bay. But unless you have unlimited time and Elon Musk’s bank balance, knowing that isn’t much help. So to steer you in the right direction, we’ve rounded up the ten absolute best activities you have to try.
Are there more than ten amazing things to do in Byron? Of course, but these are the must-dos, the memory makers, and the things that make Byron, well, Byron. Whether you’re travelling solo or have the whole family in tow, you’ll find something here to make your trip special.
We’re confident you could choose anything on this list and you’d have a great time. Plus each one gives you a real flavour of what Byron is about – the outdoor lifestyle, spending time in nature, and hardcore chilling.
Everything is based in Byron itself (so you don’t need a car), many are free or inexpensive, and because this guide is written by a local, you can be sure that all of the information is accurate and bang up to date.
So let’s get into it. Here are the ten best things to do in Byron Bay in 2023.
Visit Cape Byron Lighthouse
Arguably no visit to Byron would be complete without heading up to the lighthouse. Built in 1901, the white tower is an icon of Byron Bay and overlooks the town with incredible views in all directions.
Between late May and early November, it’s a great spot for whale watching, and you’ll have a good chance of seeing dolphins at any time of year.
If you’re feeling energetic, do the famous lighthouse walk following Cape Byron Walking Track. You can start from various points, but the sections between The Pass and Wategos and Wategos and the lighthouse are the most beautiful. Otherwise, you can drive up and park at the top.
Cost: Free if you walk up or $8 per hour if you park at the top
Watch the sunrise or sunset
Whether you’re a morning person or not, make sure you set your alarm early and catch a magical Byron sunrise at least once on your trip. As Cape Byron is the most easterly point of mainland Australia, you’ll technically be one of the first people in the country to see the sun as it emerges up from the ocean.
For the best view, head up to the lighthouse or one of the lookouts along Cape Byron Walking Track – the section between the lighthouse and Wategos on the eastern side of the cape.
Watching the sunset is also an event in itself. Head to the rock wall in front of the wreck to take in the experience with lots of people, skaters, music, and occasionally drumming. Or for something more chilled, the lighthouse is a great spot to watch it, and you can drive up if you don’t fancy the walk.
Spot whales and dolphins
Between May and November, you can see humpback whales breaching and tail slapping as they pass through Byron Bay and then back again with their calves. Every year, the whales migrate from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to their breeding grounds in the warmer waters of Northern Queensland and back again.
Although whale season officially starts in May, you’ll have a better chance of seeing them from June onwards as the number passing through increases.
There are a few ways you can get a glimpse of these amazing creatures – keep an eye out from the shore, take a whale watching boat trip, or head out in a kayak.
If you’re watching from the shore, one of the best places to spot whales is from Cape Bryon Walking Track as it winds from Wategos up to the lighthouse, particularly at the lookout near the ‘most easterly point of mainland Australia’ sign and at the top.
For a closer look, you can take to the ocean on a dedicated whale watching tour. Boats run several times a day in the whale watching season between June and October (weather permitting). And many operators offer a whale guarantee that lets you go out again if you don’t see a whale.
All year round, there’s a good chance of spotting bottlenose dolphins and other marine life, so even if you don’t see whales, you’ll still have an amazing time.
Explore life under the sea
Julian Rocks is one of the best locations for scuba diving anywhere in Australia. The dive site is part of Cape Byron Marine Park and sits where warm water from the north meets cooler water from the south, attracting more than 1,000 species of marine life to the area.
Year-round, you’ll find wobbegong sharks, turtles, rays, and over 400 species of fish here. Between May and November, you can also see Grey Nurse Sharks, and, if you’re lucky, you may even see a humpback whale from the boat on the journey to or from the shore. Even if you don’t see whales, there’s a good chance you’ll hear them under the water. Then from November to May, Leopard Sharks and Manta Rays call Julian Rocks home.
You’ll find one dive centre in town – Sundive. They run a variety of dive and snorkel tours plus dive courses and certifications.
Cost: From $150
Go on a snorkelling adventure
Even if you don’t dive, you can still see an insane variety of marine life by snorkelling in Byron Bay, and there are some great snorkel spots to explore.
An incredible dive site, Julian Rocks is also amazing for snorkelling, and this is where most of the guided tours will take you. If you’d rather go it alone, you can check out the spots accessible from the shore.
There are three main snorkel spots – the Wreck, Tassie III, and sometimes Clarkes beach. At each of them, you could see wobbegong sharks, turtles, rays, and huge schools of fish. And if you’re eagle-eyed, you might also spot octopus, crayfish, and nudibranchs.
Cost: Free if you have your own snorkel equipment or $119 for a guided trip.
Head to the markets
Byron’s markets are an event in themselves. Freshly cooked food, live music, and a huge variety of unique stalls make them worth a visit even if there’s nothing you need to buy. You’ll find four main markets in Byron:
- Every Thursday from 7-11 am, head to Byron Farmers Market at Butler Street Reserve for the freshest local produce, plus freshly cooked food and live music.
- Every Saturday from 4-9 pm in the warmer months between October and April, Bryon Twilight Market sets up at the Railway Park in the centre of town.
- On the first Sunday of every month, get a real flavour of Byron Bay in every sense at Byron Community Market at the Railway Park in the centre of town, between 8 am and 3 pm.
- Four times a year, browse artisan stalls at Byron Beachside Market on Main Beach Foreshore from 8 am – 3 pm. Check the Byron Community Centre website for the date of the next market.
Eat and drink to your heart’s content
Whoever said “food is fuel, not therapy” clearly hadn’t eaten a Sunday Roast at Three Blue Ducks or tried the Chilli Caramel Pork at Light Years. You’ll find heaps of happiness in the food at Byron Bay’s best restaurants, and there are plenty to choose from. From burgers to fine dining, lazy breakfasts to indulgent dinners, every day is an opportunity to treat your tastebuds to something new.
The bar scene is just as exciting. Whether you’re in the mood for sunset beers overlooking the ocean, upscale cocktails and tapas, or simply partying the night away, there’s a bar in Byron Bay that’s perfect for the occasion.
Cost: Whatever you eat and drink
Become a beach bum
The beaches in Byron Bay are among the best in Australia. If the weather’s good, it’s hard to beat spending a day relaxing on the sand with an umbrella and an esky full of goodies. Our favourite beach is The Pass, and if the wind is northerly, Tallow Beach is a good option.
It’s worth knowing that the beaches change with surprising regularity, though, depending on how the sand shifts around. What could be a big, dry sandy beach one month, could be almost non-existent the next. Check out our guide to the five best beaches right now for the most up-to-date information.
Hit the waves
Byron is famous for its epic waves and the town pretty much revolves around the surf lifestyle, so surfing here is a big bucket list tick for lots of people.
If you surf, you’ll know that the Pass is one of the best right-hand point breaks in the world – and some days, it feels like everyone in the world is there! But if you brave the crowds, your reward is perfect, fun waves that can run for hundreds of metres.
The Pass isn’t the only great surf spot though. Depending on the conditions, you could also try Belongil, the Wreck, Main Beach, Clarkes Beach, or Wategos.
Despite the crowds, Byron is also one of the best places in the world to learn to surf. If you don’t have much experience, a surf lesson is the way to go. There are several surf schools in town that will take you to the best spot for the conditions on the day and hook you up with all the equipment you need.
If you’re more experienced, you can hire boards and wetsuits from a few of the surf shops in town and get advice on which spot to head to.
Cost: Free if you have your own equipment or from $80 for a surf lesson
Join a kayak tour
To see Byron from a completely different perspective, take to the ocean on a kayaking tour. You’ll see Byron’s stunning coastline in all its glory, but you’ll also have a chance to get up close to its mind-blowing marine life.
Kayak groups see the bay’s resident bottlenose dolphins on most trips as well as turtles popping up for a breath. And if you’re really lucky, between mid-May and mid-November, you might encounter humpback whales as they make their way past Byron on their journey up and down the coast to give birth.
Cost: $89 for a guided tour
Jump out of a plane
Falling through the air from 15,000 feet may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re even slightly tempted to try skydiving, Byron Bay is an epic place to do it. The crew at Skydive Australia are absolute pros and their experienced instructors will make sure you have a safe and enjoyable skydive, whether you go tandem or have the experience to jump solo.
As you get up to the jump height, you’ll fly over the coastline with epic views of Julian Rocks and Cape Byron, then comes the ultimate adrenaline rush. Freefall for up to 60 seconds at 200km an hour, then pull the shoot and enjoy those magical Byron views.
Pick up is available from Byron to the takeoff and landing spot in Tyagarah, about ten minutes away.
Share the best things to do in Byron Bay
So that’s our roundup of the ten absolute best things to do in Byron Bay. If you get a chance to try some or all of the activities, let us know your favourites here or on social! And if you think someone else would find this article helpful, feel free to share it using the social buttons at the top of the page.