It’s not difficult to see why Byron Bay and the north coast of New South Wales, Australia is one of the most popular parts of the state with backpackers. Sublime beaches and world-class surf breaks, an unshakeably laid-back vibe, and epic natural landscapes all add up to an unmissable destination you’ll probably never want to leave. There are just so many things to do in Byron Bay and beyond.
It might not be long before you’re so absorbed in the Byron lifestyle that it shifts your whole perspective on how life should be lived.
You’ll learn to love getting up at dawn
Backpacking provides plenty of excuses for sleeping in late (especially if you’ve had a heavy night before), and while nights out in Byron might leave you with an aching head come morning, the jaw-dropping sunrises all along the coast offer plenty of motivation to get out of bed early.
A few of our favourite spots for spectacular sunrises over the Pacific Ocean are Cape Byron Lighthouse, Point Danger in Tweed Heads, or Coffs Harbour. Surfing at sunrise is one of the best things to do in Byron Bay (try Clarkes Beach for this), or salute the sun with a spiritual yoga experience at Hat Head National Park.
Trust us, when you visit Byron it won’t be long before you’re itching to wake up at 5am and make the most of the day.
It’s not laziness, it’s relaxation
The north coast of New South Wales has so many brilliant beaches you’d be crazy not to spend half your time there lounging on the sand and soaking up the sun.
In Byron Bay alone there’s Main Beach, Clarkes Beach, Wategos Beach, and many more, each offering pristine sands for sunbathing but slightly different vibes depending on your mood. They cater to different levels of surfer, and offer activities like snorkelling, paddle boarding, paragliding, and more. The Wreck is particularly striking, named after the visible shipwreck of the SS Wollongbar, a popular spot for divers to explore alongside more experienced surfers attracted by the good break.
Head outside the city limits and you’ll find even more beaches! Red Rock in Coffs Harbour offers… well, red rocks, in striking contrast to the crystal clear waters. Seal Rocks charms visitors with its tranquil fishing village and quiet demeanour, while the thin strip of Cabarita is famed for its calming atmosphere and nearby nature reserve.
Taking the time to enjoy these places isn’t laziness, it’s giving them the respect they deserve. Relaxation is a way of life. You’ve earned it. Probably.
Who needs medicine when you’ve got crystal healing?
We must stress that if you have a health complaint during your travels you should always consult a trained medical professional. But the prominence of crystal healing, Reiki, and other alternative methods in Byron Bay might make you think twice.
Look at all those beautiful, tanned, healthy-looking people lounging around on the beach and surfing through the waves like pros. If it works for them, there must be something to it. Right?
Well, no. Still, it can be fun to dabble and try something new. This free-thinking culture means Byron Bay is always a fun place to be, and has given rise to numerous yoga classes and retreats all over the north coast that offer genuinely brilliant ways to unwind and improve your fitness.
You’ll become one with nature
Most first-time visitors to Australia look forward to seeing a kangaroo and a koala, and are terrified of any other animal that moves. The north coast of New South Wales is a great place to discover the unchecked variety of Australia’s wildlife and learn to love all its weird and wonderful critters.
Dorrigo National Park is an essential natural spot. Not only is the rainforest itself obscenely beautiful, it’s also home to more wildlife than you could see in a lifetime. Animals include koalas, platypuses, bandicoots, wallabies, possums, and many more. Colourful bird life includes regent bowerbirds, red-necked pademelons, and wompoo fruit-doves. See what you can spot!
Even if you don’t leave the limits of Byron Bay, there are loads of options for excursions from the city out onto the water to spot whales, dolphins, and other marine life.
After a few days you’re bound to feel utterly at peace with all the awesome animals this region has to offer.
It’s not nightlife unless it lasts ‘til morning
No matter how many nights out you’ve had in your life, Byron Bay will show you that it can always be done differently. The unique combination of a huge range of bars, pubs, and clubs, the city’s chilled atmosphere, and the proximity of the beaches means no two nights out here are ever the same.
There are numerous classic venues in Byron Bay to suit any backpacker, whatever your mood. If you’re looking to go hard you can dance the night away amid the vintage surfboard vibe of Woody’s Surf Shack. La La Land, with its chic style, is venue of choice for anybody in search of a bit of class. Byron Bay Brewing Co is perfect for enjoying a good beer with some live music, and nights at the classic Beach Hotel frequently spill out onto magnificent Main Beach.
Once you’ve got used to Byron Bay nightlife, going out anywhere else will always feel a little tame.