Move over Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s new number one trending destination is Byron Bay. But will it stay the same for long?
Tucked between Brisbane and Sydney on the far north coast of New South Wales, Byron Bay has long been popular with backpackers and surfers but is now beginning to attract a new wave of guests including A-list celebrities and influencers from all around the globe.
That’s right – the secret that is Byron Bay is well and truly out, and while it has always been a favorite among Australia’s eclectic types, Byron Bay is now attracting cashed-up elites who are already beginning to transform the once sleepy town.
In addition to Byron being transformed by the new groups of people flocking here, severe coastal erosion has begun taking its toll on some of the area’s beaches. The fear is that climate change may make this more prevalent or at least more difficult to predict.
Australia’s most hashtagable holiday destination is definitely under threat both by an overcrowding of influencers and Mother Nature herself, leaving many to wonder how much longer Byron Bay will keep its appeal.
You may want to check out this beautiful coastal gem sooner rather than later before it loses its shine. Here are just some of the reasons people can’t seem to get enough of beloved Byron.
Making the Most of Byron Bay While You Have the Chance
Byron Bay Beaches
Byron Bay is home to Australia’s most easterly point, on the mainland anyway, and offers up a number of iconic beaches frequented by surfers and loved-up couples enjoying evening walks together.
Each of Byron’s beaches has their own personality, meaning there’s a beach for everyone. Some are family-friendly, some that allow you to bring along your four-legged friend, and some where you can bare it all if that’s your thing.
A good beach for families with small children is Main Beach which is right in town and patrolled. It connects with Clarkes Beach and The Pass which is famous for its surfing.
The sheltered Wategos Beach (pictured above) is another great surfing spot or if you’re looking for a beach that is more remote then Kings Beach is a good option, which due to its remoteness has also become a bit of a clothes-optional beach despite it not being official.
The long-stretching Tallow Beach can be accessed from Suffolk Park and is best for walking your dog. Meanwhile, Seven Mile Beach is where you can enjoy horseback riding along the shoreline.
Some beaches such as Wategos Beach also connect with the Cape Byron Walking Track which provides exceptional coastal views along the clifftops near the lighthouse.
Try some snorkelling at the SS Wollongbar Wreck along Belongil Beach, a beach that also offers a good surf break and nude sunbathing north of Belongil Creek.
Enjoy Some of Australia’s Best Camping
While the elite wealthy celebs and influencers may be crashing at their lavish holiday homes and luxurious beachside resorts, staying in Byron can also be affordable for mere mortals who don’t mind pitching a tent with a sea view.
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to Byron Bay camping, with holiday parks and campsites often set in natural parklands frequented by local wildlife like koalas and wallabies.
Many camping areas not only provide direct beach access, but are also often only a short walk into town. This means you don’t necessarily have to go through the hassle of camp cooking and can opt for delicious food and drinks from the wide assortment of cafes, restaurants, and pubs available.
You’ll find everything from basic unpowered sites to lavish eco-friendly safari-style glamping tents. Some campsites offer wellness centres, onsite cafes, well-stocked camp kitchens and lawns overlooking the beach.
You can choose to set yourself up away from all the busy action of Byron or right in the middle of it all.
Brush Shoulders with Celebrities
Image credit: Nicolas Genin (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons
The mix of Byron’s natural beauty paired with its rich culinary scene and presence of world-class spas and wellness retreats has made this town a playground for the rich and famous. The appeal of Byron to A-listers has grown even more ever since Chris Hemsworth, aka Thor, deciding to build his mansion here.
Where once you could only expect to run into obnoxious teenagers during Schoolies week or hippie types the rest of the year, now you may just find yourself sipping a latte across from your Hollywood Crush.
While it’s no surprise that Byron attracts local Aussie celebs like Olivia Newton-John and Nicole Kidman, it has recently even been visited by Hollywood actors including Matt Damon and Zac Efron. You then have your daily dose of models and TikTok stars.
Byron’s ever-present famous guests and residents have gained it the nickname “Little Hollywood” and is definitely Australia’s newest celebrity capital. Don’t be surprised if there’s a Byron beachside Walk of Fame in the near future.
Byron’s Foodie Scene
A destination can’t truly become an Instagram sensation without pretty-looking food and drinks. As a bonus, Byron Bay’s food scene is also delicious which of course isn’t a necessity so long as it looks good plated up.
After all, most travellers now pay for the presentation and photo ops of food more than actually trying to appease their tastebuds and feed their hunger.
No matter what your taste in food, Byron has it. You’ll find global flavours including Thai, Mexican, Indian, and Italian. There are restaurants and cafes clustered on the streets of Fletcher, Lawson, Johnson, and Bay Lane, as well as scattered throughout the surrounding hinterland.
There of course is no shortage of environmentally conscious restaurants and cafes that are all about sustainability an saving the environment, it is after all Byron. There’s plenty of vegetarian and vegan treats, hemp seeds, probiotic drinks, and coffee made with macadamia milk.
You’ll find plenty of steaks and woodfired pizzas around as well though if you need to sustain those showy tanned beach muscles. You can also pop into the Byron Farmers Market on Thursday mornings for fresh local produce.
As the sun sets, pop into a local pub or check out The Bucha Shed which is Australia’s first alcoholic kombucha bar. There is also the Byron Bay Brewery. A number of local breweries and distilleries offer behind the scenes tours where you can sample craft beers and spirits while learning what goes into the process of making them.
There was a time when Byron was solely all about surfing. Main Beach is home to the Byron Bay Surf Club, which just so happens to be one of the oldest surf clubs in Australia.
Surfing remains one of the town’s most popular activities, Byron hosting the annual Byron Bay Surf Festival. Byron attracts legendary pro surfers as well as beginners looking to get surfing lessons at The Pass, which is Byron’s busiest and most popular surf spots.
There are waves for surfers of all skill levels and any gear you may need can be found right in town. The Pass offers big swells along with consistent sets and long right-hand waves. It’s the perfect spot for longboarders.
Brunswick Heads Beach and Tallows Beach are a bit more suited to skilled surfers, Tallows Beach providing decent swells even when the other local beaches are calm.
Don’t overlook the fast and hollow right-hand point-breaks offered at Broken Head Beach. Whichever beach you decide on, be sure to check if it is patrolled if you are a newbie to the world of surfing.
Nature and Wildlife of Byron
Byron Bay isn’t all about taking selfies and trying to get noticed. If you’re looking to enjoy a more peaceful Byron experience, there are plenty of natural treasures around where the wildlife won’t judge your looks or style.
Escape to Julian Rocks just off the Byron Bay coast if you’re looking to get wet and wild. Julian Rocks Marine Sanctuary is regarded as one of the country’s top dive sites, its clear shallow waters making it ideal for snorkelling. Below the surface, you can spot sea turtles, grey nurse sharks, moray eels, and rays.
Staying on the sea, there are dolphin spotting kayaking tours year-round as well as humpback whales that migrate along the Byron coastline from roughly May-October. Dry off by taking to the cliffside hiking trails as you tackle the 4-kilometre Cape Byron walking track in the Cape Byron State Conservation Area.
You can honour a bit of Aboriginal heritage along with secluded beaches at Arakwal National Park. Further Aboriginal heritage can be appreciated at the Broken Head Nature Reserve with its subtropical Littoral Rainforest.
The Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary with its 300-metre boardwalk and the adjacent Cumbebin Swamp Nature Reserve are great areas to search for birds, snakes, and frogs.
There are a number of other national parks and nature reserves in and around Byron Bay to explore if you have time including Tyagarah Nature Reserve, Mount Jerusalem National Park which is home to rare Albert’s Lyrebirds, and Nightcap National Park with its 100-metre tall Minyon Falls.
While Byron Bay will no doubt continue to evolve, there are still plenty of ways to see it as it once was. While it no doubt has seen big changes in the past few decades, it remains one of Australia’s top beach towns worth a visit.
In addition to surfing, hiking, eating, and shopping, Byron Bay also offers a number of epic experiences like ballooning, hang gliding, and even skydiving over the coastline.
You can further enhance your stay by timing your visit to coincide with one of Byron’s popular annual events such as Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay Triathlon, Byron Underwater Festival, Byron Bay Film Festival, or the award-winning East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival.
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