Byron Bay is one of those places people from all over return to. For the beaches, lifestyle and definitive unique element of the area.
I have visited Byron at least 20 times over the last 30 years. Flying, driving or catching the train up from Melbourne at all stages of life: with family, friends, alone, or with my partner and step kids, in all seasons.
The stunning beaches are always a standout, especially those which are a short drive from town and are less crowded.
There is no doubt the beaches in Byron Bay are spectacular. As the most easterly point of Australia, marked by the lighthouse at Cape Byron, there are beaches for everyone. Surfing, swimming, young families, secluded sections of paradise for couples or long dreamy walks for anyone, along soft stretches of sand.
Here are my top 8 Heavenly Byron Bay Beaches!
At the calmer end of Tallows beach, south of the lighthouse, is Broken Head. Seasoned surfers and young, local families searching for shelter come here for less crowds and cleaner waves when the wind has picked up in other parts through Cape Byron.
This untouched south corner of paradise is less touristy and offers a natural environment and stunning view of Tallows Beach all the way north towards the lighthouse.
Broken Head Beach curves in a semicircle along to rocks, ideal for exploring and gazing at or surfing the waves peeling off to the right.
There is a caravan park at the beaches entrance, with highly sought after camping spots offering vacationers a full experience out of the Byron huslte and bustle.
Broken Head is only a 5 min drive from the centre of Byron Bay and is one to visit for a local experience.
Cosy Corner is at the opposite end of Tallows Beach, situated at the south side of Cape Byron, under the lighthouse.
This part of Tallows Beach is less sheltered but is considered a top surf spot when the conditions are right.
The sand is soft and vast. Swim, surf or have a picnic and gaze out at the surfers scattered to the left as waves peel and bump and break to the left.
Cosy Corner is a less touristy beach and an alternative option if the waves are small on the main beach, north side of the lighthouse.
Located a short 2 min drive from The Main Beach in Byron, Cosy Corner is well worth considering for a quieter and wilder beach experience.
Wategos Beach is one of those pretty standout beaches fringed with pandanus palms. It’s no wonder the famous and wealthy have bought houses in the area or tend to visit regularly.
This pretty beach is sometimes good for surfing, dolphin spotting or lazing on the beach under the shade of the palm trees.
The overlooking valley of Wategos was settled in the 30’s by the Watego family who grew vegetables before the houses were built.
Limited parking means the beach is never extremely crowded and the beach and main surf areas can change shape each year.
As short hike up the hill towards the lighthouse is the secluded and spectacular Little Wategos Beach, the last cove on the north side before the lighthouse.
Little Wategos is only reached by foot from the track which winds up towards the lighthouse.
If you decide to trek down to Little Wategos Beach, be careful as the seemingly calm bay sometimes has strong ocean currents, due to the sand moving around Cape Byron and building up before moving north towards The Pass.
The waves along the shore sometimes create a strong northbound current.
The Pass is a popular beach for beginner to intermediate surfers at the south end of the Byron Bay Main Beach.
The rocky point between The Pass and Wategos, provides The Pass with endless clean waves (weather permitting), perfect for longer board riders and cruisy body surfers.
At The Pass you will see surfers from all ages, toddlers to 80 year olds!
The Pass Café sitting amongst the trees at the entrance of the surf spot is a great coffee or smoothie stop and nearby public outdoor showers and toilets are provided.
Note: Parking here is tricky in peak times. An alternative is to park at the Clarkes beach carpark (near the Beach Café) and walk 5 mins along the beach to The Pass at the south end of the beach.
The Main Beach is the long stretch of white beach in front of the tree lined Lawson street which take you right up to the top of the main street of Byron Bay.
Families and groups of friends or sunbakers line this part of the beach for some easy sun and swimming or body boarding action.
Main Beach is easily accessible if you’re staying in the centre of Byron Bay.
The Wreck is a surf spot at the beginning of Belongil Beach at the top of the main street of Byron Bay (Johnson Street).
Named ‘The Wreck’ after the parts of an old Wollongbar shipwreck which still reside there.
The Wollongbar sailed between Byron and Sydney, carrying supplies and passengers until 1921.
After being tied up to the jetty, waiting to leave for Sydney at 5pm, large waves, a low tide and strong winds strong winds caused the ship to begin bumping the seabed.
This resulted in the ship being grounded on a sandbar and became stranded at the beginning of Belongil beach (near the seawall)
The abandoned hull, boilers, rudder bar and tiller were all that remained. The rudder bar is still visible above the water today.
Take note that the surf swell sometimes comes in large here. The waves are at their peak on a south easterly swell with a southerly offshore wind.
Being close to the main street means this beach is often dotted with a wide variety of swimmers, body boarders, surfers and sunbathers.
The Wreck is a clean white sandy beach, and a lovely spot to settle in for some beach time especially in the late afternoon.
In summer this part of the beach close to town is patrolled with lifesavers.
Belongil Beach is 10 min stroll north of The Wreck and the centre of town. A calmer stretch beach with a mixture of local families and regular vacationers, this part of the beach is perfect for swimming, surfing, long walks and sunset views.
Belongil Beach is a dog friendly beach and you will see many happy dogs enjoying the water and long stretches of sand.
Due to the recent floods in the norther rivers, *link, this area has some noticeably small changes to the sand and sand dunes.
Belongil Beach is mostly safe for swimming but stay close enough to other people at the southern end.
Byron Bay Beaches Map
Byron Bay Indigenous History
The Arakwal People of Byron Bay are the traditional owners of this land.
The Arakwal People are the tribes of the Bundjalung Nation whose traditional country consisted of the east coast between the Clarence River, the Albert River area in QLD and the Great Dividing Range to the west.
Their ancestors arrived more than 20,000 years ago. This occurred at the same time as the end of the last ice age, when sea levels were 120 meters lower than they are today.
The coastline moved west at a rate of around 160 meters per century as the ice started to melt, raising the sea level at a rate of a meter per century by the time it reached its current level and position 5000–6000 years ago.
Due to this ongoing flooding of the Bundjalung area, the coastal tribes, especially the Arakwal, were compelled to flee ever further west from the country that they had previously occupied, until 6000 years ago, when this retreat slowed down to a stop.
The beaches in Byron Bay are still some of the most spectacular and clean bays and surf spots in Australia I have seen.
The sand is soft and clean, and the water mild like a bath most times of the year, with plenty of choice for all sorts of beach lovers.
Paired with the multi culture of Byron Bay, the nearby hinterland and bars and restaurants, Byron is a fun place to visit at most times of the year.
Keep in mind winter is chillier and swimming is best after August. The summertime and school holidays are busy, which is the optimal time to head out to the quieter beaches like Belongil or Broken Head.
If you are not a strong swimmer it is best to always review the water and beach conditions before diving into the blue green sea.