12 Best Things to Do in Byron Bay for First-Timers

12 Fun Things to Do in Byron Bay for First-Timers

Here’s to a fun-filled trip in this coastal paradise.

Once upon a time, in 1860, Byron Bay was founded as a timber port. Fast forward to 30 years later, this coastal town in New South Wales is a top attraction of its own, gathering tourists from all over the world thanks to its historical relevance, scenic beauty, and leisure attractions.

Planning your first trip to this famous coastal attraction in Australia? Brace your wanderlust self as we roll down the 12 best things to do in Byron Bay, from famous landmarks and stunning beaches, to the delightful eateries and underrated hinterland!

Byron Bay Lighthouse

Image credit: Shubham Sharma 

Best things to do in Byron Bay

1. Walk along the Cape Byron Walking Track

Byron Bay Walking Track

Image credit: Tourism Australia via Canva Pro

One of the best things to do in Byron Bay is to tread along the Cape Byron Walking Track to the iconic landmark of the easternmost point of Australia: the Cape Byron Lighthouse! Expect an hour-plus journey along a 3.7km loop track, as you will definitely enjoy your sweet time admiring the rainforest and breathtaking views of the ocean throughout the journey. You will also come across the ancient burrawangs and bangalow palms, and traverse kangaroo grasslands before you finally get to the fabled 122-year-old lighthouse. 

We recommend planning your journey sometime before dawn. Arrive at this iconic viewing point just in time to enjoy an unforgettable sunrise. 

TripZilla Tip: Bring along your binoculars or Google Pixel 7 Pro, as you wouldn’t want to miss out on the regular sightings of Byron Bay’s marine residents, including turtles and dolphins (but unfortunately, not Aquaman).

2. Go on a whale-watching cruise

Whale-watching cruise in Byron Bay

Image credit: samchad via Canva Pro

Whale-watching should really be one of the top priorities on your list of fun things to do in Byron Bay. Embark on a whale of a time cruise (pun intended) from your chosen beach and witness the lively curiosity and acrobatics of the humpback whale as they migrate from Antarctica to Australia’s East Coast between June and October. You might travel across the globe just for the fun of it, but the humpback whales do it for mating purposes and delivering their calves in the tropical waters of Byron. (Aww, the things they do for love!)

Anyways, if you don’t wish to watch them up close or if you’re afraid of getting slapped by their flappy fins, you can always watch them from the land. The seaside path and the top of the cape close to the lighthouse offer equally good vantage points. 

TripZilla Tip: Though you might accidentally come across the first sight of these huge mammals in May, it is best to go whale watching around mid-June to ensure enough whales have migrated to the sea. 

3. Experience the best beaches and water sports this town has to offer

Beautiful beaches are among the top Byron Bay attractions, and most possibly the reason that puts it on the map. For fellow non-aquaphiles, we recommend people-watching or picnicking at the peaceful, sheltered Wategos Beach on the northern side of Cape Byron. 

As for those who just can’t get enough of water, check out some of the awesome water sports you could try to fill up your daily dose of vitamin sea:


Surfers on Belongil Beach Byron Bay

Clarkes Beach | Image credit: Elements of Byron Official Website

If you’re a professional surfer, here’s your chance to shine and show off some cool tricks up your sleeve. What’s that? A newbie at surfing? Fret not, as you can easily join a half-day, two-day, or, in fact, three-day surfing lesson organised by local surfing schools in the area. 

Clarkes Beach is the best spot for beginners and body-surfers. If you’re a powerful right-hander or an experienced surfer, make your way to Belongil Beach, famously known as The Wreck. For those who love strong rips and are confident with their surfing game, Brunswick Heads Beach is for you. Looking for a spot that caters to surfers of all levels? Head for The Pass beach.


Not a fan of surfing? Go kayaking with your friends instead! You don’t need kayaking experience to get out on the water, just some guts and patience to paddle your way alongside the bottlenose dolphins in Byron Bay. Definitely one of the flipping fin-tastic Byron Bay activities you should try. Check out any guided kayak tours at the Byron Bay Marine Park, Clarkes Beach, or Brunswick River for some of the best options available. 

Scuba diving

Julian Rocks marine life

Image credit: JulianGWilson 

Discover the underwater world of Byron Bay by joining the hourly scuba diving classes that include a guided dive in Julian Rocks Nguthungulli Nature Reserve. This 4,047-hectare reserve area is 2.5km northeast of Byron Bay, approximately a seven-minute drive from the town centre.  Though Julian Rocks might seem like two rocky islands from afar, underneath the rocky outcrop is home to many sharks, including the grey nurse sharks, leopard sharks, and wobbegongs (carpet sharks).  

Also, expect some company from the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef ranging from manta rays and friendly turtles to blooming coral reefs that’ll leave you craving for a longer time in the sea.

4. Skydive over Byron Bay and enjoy its remarkable coastal view

In Byron Bay, the fun doesn’t end on the ground. Skydiving is definitely something you should add to your list of things to do in Byron Bay. Plunge 15,000 feet off the ground in a 60-second free fall, then enjoy another five to seven minutes floating under your parachute. You’ll surely relish the magnificent view of the coastal lines, the blue sea, and the quaint scenery of the beachside town’s terrain. Thrilling, yes — but is it safe? Absolutely. 

5. Hike in Arakwal National Park

Arakwal National Park

Image credit: Chris Putnam via Canva Pro

Hiking in Arakwal National Park is among the best Byron Bay activities you should try. It is jointly managed by the NSW State Government, the Arakwal Aboriginal People, and the Wildlife Service to preserve its value for the aboriginal populace, native animals, threatened plant species, and migrating seabirds.

As you walk through this park, breathe in the rich overlooking view of Tallow Beach, which is one of Australia’s most photographed beaches. Sand dunes, heath, and forest backdrop will also greet you en route to your endpoint. 

Heads up to all birdwatchers out there! You’ll get the chance to kill two birds with one stone (not literally), thanks to the variety of amazing birds that await you along the way.

6. Stroll along the Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary Boardwalk

Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary Boardwalk

Image credit: PDerrett via Canva Pro

Cumbebin Swamp Nature Reserve is one of the main Byron Bay attractions that no nature lover should ever sleep on. If you didn’t know yet, the coastal town was mostly a swamp before it became what it is today.

This reserve is actually the remaining swamp that has been preserved within the sanctuary up to this day. So, do take a stroll along the 300-metre-long boardwalk through the rainforest and get your camera ready for some unexpected sightings of Australia’s enchanting wildlife (mostly birds and frogs). It’ll take you around 10 minutes to complete the journey, but take as much time as you want to marvel at the tree-mendous view.

TripZilla Tip: Apply insect repellent to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

7. Try out some of the best local cafes

Cafe hopping is another one of the fun things to do in Byron Bay, especially after a long day at the beach. Some of the recommended eateries include Bayleaf Cafe, a good place for early morning coffee and breakfast. Try out their classic avocado on toast and homemade granola. Dine-in or takeaway? Your call. 

Next is Folk: a mini-haven for all vegetarians. Enjoy the best plant-based meals at this fine-dining restaurant with a laid-back garden landscape. Their signature dishes are the Folk Burrito and soba noodle salad. Meanwhile, there’s always something for pastry lovers out there, and you might find yours at Sunday Sustainable Bakery. Their must-try dish is the carrot cake. Other pastries include bread, baguettes, and sandwiches.

8. Have a blast at a vibrant music festival or three

Now that you’ve stuffed yourself with good food, it’s time to let loose and put on some groove. Did you know Byron Bay is a host to some of the most exciting world-class music festivals? Yup, and the Byron Bay BluesFest is among those you don’t want to miss. This popular festival takes place every April. Brace yourself for a great lineup of musicians and over 100 food and market stalls coming your way. 

Next up is the FALLS Festival: a multi-day music festival that is frequently held between the last week of December and the first week of January. The festival includes different performances such as music, dance, comedy, theatre, and so much more. 

Fun things to do near Byron Bay

9. Get some souvenirs from famous markets in and around Byron

Your trip to this coastal town is not complete without coming to all its lively markets. Ask anyone who’s been here before, and we guarantee you 99% of them would list these as must-visit Byron Bay attractions! While there are a handful of markets (both in and near Byron Bay) to choose from, these are the ones that locals would recommend for first-time visitors: 

Byron Community Market

This is the longest-running market in the Byron Shire, offering a variety of local crafts, exotic imports, and delicious foods. Catch fun and energetic vibes from good music by talented local musicians.

Opening schedule: Every first Sunday of the month, 8.00am to 3.00pm

Channon Market

The small village of Channon is 45 minutes away (by car) from Byron Bay. Here’s a good place to get your hands full with local crafts, clothes, secondhand trinkets, fresh produce, local delicacies, and coffee. Live music and local performances are also available.

Opening schedule: Every second Sunday of the month, 9.00am to 3.00pm

Mullumbimby Market

You can find this market under the lush fig trees of the foothills of Mount Chincogan. Here, more than 70 farmers and local artisans gather to sell their fresh produce and unique crafts, so be sure to set some pennies aside for the good stuff!

Opening schedule: Every Friday, 7.00am to 11.00pm

Byron Bay Farmers’ Market

As the name suggests, this market is home to the best and freshest produce from Byron Bay farms, which are transported straight to the market. You will likely find juicy fruits and vegetables, macadamia nuts, honey, artisan bread, and more! It is located in the Butler Street Reserve, 350m south of Byron Bay — in fact, just approximately a one-minute drive from the beachside town. 

Opening schedule: Every Thursday, 8.00am to 11.00am

Byron Bay Twilight Market

This weekend market is the best spot to spend warm summer evenings exploring Byron Bay’s local arts, crafts and culture. You can sit down and relax on the lush green grass around the market as it welcomes you with a family-friendly atmosphere. Find this happening market at Railway Park on Jonson Street (the main street in Byron Bay), opposite the Community Centre.

Opening schedule: Every Saturday, 4.00pm to 9.00pm

10. Relax with a view of Killen Falls

Killen Falls

Image credit: Turnervisual via Canva Pro

If you’re not into music and festivals, you are more than welcome to chill at Killen Falls. This secluded gem is located south of Byron Bay, near Ballina, and is only half an hour away from Byron Bay. Listen to the crashing sound of the waterfall that serves as a home to one of the last remaining pieces of the big scrub rainforest. This large piece of greenery used to surround the Northern Rivers before it was cleared by the cedar-getters. 

It’s a perfect place to have some quality me-time or even some romantic moments with your loved one. Definitely one of the best things to do near Byron Bay.

TripZilla Tip: If you’re planning to visit on the weekend and wish to have the place all to yourself, head out earlier before dawn and arrive somewhere between 5.00am and 6.00am.

11. Make your way to Crystal Castle & Shambala Gardens

You’ll have to travel through the hinterlands to actually reach this magical sanctuary. The Crystal Castle & Shambala Gardens spans five hectares and is located in Mullumbimby town, which is about a 22-minute drive from Byron Bay. This splendid garden setting is among the underrated tourist attractions that you should totally explore. 

A short history lesson on the place: In 1986, a man named Naren King purchased a structure with an unusual design, which many locals referred to as “The Castle.” This led him to start Crystalight, the nation’s first direct importer of fine natural crystals worldwide. It took a little while for locals and tourists to discover his endeavour, given that Byron Bay is recognised for its hippie heritage.

There are many Instagram-worthy spots to check out in the Crystal Castle & Shambala Gardens. Crowd favourites include the cave-shaped Dragon Egg made out of amethyst, as well as the Wings to Eternity mural. There is also the Crystal Guardians: two tall crystal sculptures that look straight out of a fairytale realm. The “Where is this?” questions will surely flood your Instagram DM in no time, take our word for it.

Blessing Buddha in Shambala Gardens

Image credit: Gerhard Lipold via Canva Pro

In the Shambala Garden section, you can stroll along the 500-metre Buddha Walk. You’ll find yourself walking through towering bamboo before you get to set your eyes on a four-metre-tall Blessing Buddha. Other sculptures include Lakshmi, Ganesh, Garuda and Vishnu, Nandi, and Avalokitesvara.

 12. Soothe your senses at Kiva Day Spa

Rewarding yourself with a great massage at Kiva Day Spa is surely one of the fun things to do near Byron Bay. This premier garden spa is here to reintroduce you to the abundant fullness of life. Reconnect with nature as you make your way through the lush tropical gardens that blanket your path. 

Expect a Balinese vibe and fairy lights to welcome you to the public bathhouse, consisting of an authentic sauna and hammam, that allow you to chill and reflect with a clear mind. 

P.S. — You can hire the space exclusively for private parties to celebrate your birthday or bridal shower with friends and family. 

Also read: 10 Airbnbs in Sydney for a Taste of Life as a Local 

And that concludes our checklist of the best things to do in Byron Bay. So, clear out your schedule, book those plane tickets, and set your way to your soon-to-be best vacation of the year!

Featured image credit: NeonJellyfish via Canva Pro

About Author

Izzati Haron
Izzati Haron

Izzati is an author to two poem anthologies, a slam poet wannabe, and a full-time nanny to her kitties. She loves dreaming about traveling the world just like most protagonists in the movies, but more often than not, her bank account only permits her to travel to her backyard.