Byron Bay is one of our all-time favourite east coast destinations. An hour south from the Gold Coast and around two hours from Brisbane, Byron is a small town with a reputation for relaxation.
If you find yourself in Byron Bay with extra time to spare, once you’ve ticked off all the town to-dos, make sure you get out and explore some of the incredible places close by. Here are ten we think you shouldn’t miss the next time you find yourself on a Byron Bay vacay.
Heading south from Byron’s central precinct along the beach road, you’ll soon enter Suffolk Park. While we endorse many things about Suffolk Park, namely their incredible bakery (worth a detour) and excellent campground, we’re actually recommending you head slightly further to Broken Head. We love Broken Head for many reasons. It has a great ground for keen campers, with a holiday park situated close to the headland, virtually on the main beach. There are awesome whale watching opportunities from the Broken Head Nature Reserve, with a trail and lookout to spot migrating humpback whales between May and November. And it has one of the best secret beaches we've ever found - Whites Beach. Accessible via a dirt road track on the other side of Broken Head, this spot is unspoilt beauty, a secluded cliffside beach with sea caves.
20 minutes along from Broken Head is another small town treasure - Lennox Head. Lennox is a seaside surfing village between Byron Bay and Ballina, the perfect place to escape the Byron busyness for anything from a few hours to a few days. If you don’t surf, there’s still plenty of outdoor activities to do here. You can swim or kayak in the splendid tea tree-lined Lake Ainsworth and paraglide or hang-glide off the headland. Afterwards, pull up a chair at one of the many restaurants or cafes lining the main strip, or stock up at the supermarket, grab some drinks and set yourself up for a picnic on Pat Morton Lookout on top of Lennox Point.
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Yep, we’re still taking you on a southern route out of Byron to another destination you can easily escape to for the day - Ballina. If you can’t get enough of the sand and sun, take a towel down to Boulders Beach, Flat Rock or Lighthouse Beach. If you find novelty in our nation’s tendency to turn unexpected things into large structures, visit one of Australia's iconic "big things", The Big Prawn on River Street. Situated on the Richmond River, keen fishers will love Ballina for its many spots to cast a line, including The Spit, Boatharbour Road and the north and south sea walls. Finish the day learning about Ballina’s history with a walk along the Richmond River waterfront trail or a visit to Ballina Manor, a majestic building that opened in 1925.
Image thanks to visitnsw.com
No holiday in Bryon Bay is complete without a trip to one of New South Wales most unique, eccentric and individual towns - Nimbin. Around 70 kilometres out of Byron Bay, tucked away in the lush green hills out west, lies Nimbin, a world-renowned hippie destination. Described as the alternative lifestyle capital of the world, Nimbin is a kaleidoscope of colours and quirky characters, home to a community passionate about their unconventional way of life. With cafes and unusual shops to explore, the central precinct isn’t the only reason to take a trip out here. Nimbin is surrounded by three World Heritage Listed rainforests, including Protester Falls, and is close to several beautiful NSW National Parks, perfect for those who want to spend a day exploring nature.
Image thanks to visitnsw.com
The Channon is a small village less than one hour inland from Byron Bay. One of the main reasons to visit this town is for The Channon Market, held on the second Sunday of each month at Coronation Park. This market began in 1976 and has since become one of the most beloved events for locals in the area and visitors from the wider shire. There’s always live music and performances by talented locals at the market, plus over 250 stalls featuring everything from products to produce, arts and crafts, pre-loved items and therapeutic services. While the market is held closer in Bangalow and Byron too, the scenic drive out is well worth the longer journey.
Even though the small community of Brunswick Heads probably want to keep their serene seaside town a secret, there are many reasons to plan a trip north of Byron to Brunswick. Beautiful beaches, an authentically Australian pub doubling as a popular live music venue, a picturesque turquoise river perfect for swimming, kayaking, fishing and boating, and a laidback vibe as good as Byron’s. You’ll find great shops to browse while visiting Bruns, and check out the Brunswick Picture House while you’re here too. This unique entertainment venue hosts an array of film, circus, cabaret and comedy, an ideal way to top off a day in Brunswick Heads.
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Image thanks to byronbay.com
Close by Brunswick Heads at the foot of Mount Chincogan lies the small town of Mullumbimby. Known affectionately to locals as “Mullum”, this is a fun place to visit from Byron even if it’s just for a meal or a quick drive to get out of town. Another haven for nature lovers, you can bushwalk from town or head into the Brunswick Valley Heritage Park, with trails that take you all the way to the Brunswick River. Crystal Castle and Shambala Gardens are close by, a place to meditate, see giant and rare crystals or wander through the tranquil rainforests and gardens. Other reasons to make the short journey out to Mullumbimby include the Mullumbimby Markets on the third Saturday of each month, the Mullumbimby Farmers Markets on Fridays and The Middle Pub, an iconic place to sit back and sink a few.
You hardly have to head far out of Byron to reach Bangalow, a country town in the Byron Shire hinterland. A one stretch kind of set up, the main drag is lined with cafes, restaurants, antique shops, homeware stores and incredible galleries. Bangalow Heritage House & Museum Cafe gets a memorable mention, a heritage home run by historians, serving up homemade cafe classics like tea and scones. If all the shopping works up a thirst, quench it at the Bangalow Hotel, perched at the top of the town. And, while you're here, get back to basics at Bangalow Parklands and walk through the forest to a swimming weir built in 1924, or head further out of town to Minyon Falls in Nightcap National park.
Closer to the Queensland border and Tweed Heads, Kingscliff is another cute coastal town to add to your ‘places to visit’ list. Kingscliff is the place to go for even more beautiful beaches, snorkelling adventures, fishing and surfing. An excursion to a new place quickly works up an appetite, and luckily Kingscliff has a lot to offer in the culinary department. Check out the beautifully renovated 1932 Kingscliff Beach Hotel for a pub feed (another epic Northern NSW live music venue), Fins for a seafood feast and Taverna for Greek-inspired, beachfront eating. And hey, while you’re here, there are a few spots to visit on your way back to Byron, including Tropical Fruit World, Cabarita Beach, Hastings Point and Pottsville.
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Up for a bit more of a road trip? Then Yamba is the place! This surfing town is regarded for its incredible surf breaks, coastal hikes and natural scenery. The best beaches to visit are Pippi, Main and Turners and walks to local landmarks like the Yamba Lighthouse are great for morning or afternoon activities, as is the Yuraygir coastal walk south to Red Rock. Yamba borders an equally alluring little town by the name of Angourie. Smaller in size but perhaps even more beautiful then Yamba, Angourie boasts one of the best right-hand point breaks in Australia and its own set of natural springs - Angourie Blue Pool.
If you manage to visit these ten spots and need more tips on where to go next, speak to our team. We spend our weekends and holidays roaming the country in search of new places and experiences to share with other passionate travellers!