With its small town charm, eclectic shops, art galleries, and lovely cafes, Byron Bay can be anything from relaxing to energizing. Visitors to this coastal enclave have easy access to beautiful beaches, a scenic headland, and lots of outdoor activities. Here’s how to get the best from Byron Bay in just one day.
Head to the cape, Australia’s easternmost point, and search the Pacific Ocean for marine life, including dolphins and migrating humpback whales (which are in the area from June to October). You can take advantage of the vista from atop the Cape Byron lighthouse, or get out onto the water—a whale-watching cruise increases your chances of spotting the mammals, and you may even be able to hear whale songs with specialized devices. You can also go sea kayaking; the crystal-clear, warm waters of protected Byron Bay make for gentle, rolling waves. Go with a guide who knows the terrain and will point out any bottlenose dolphins in the area.
Now that the sun is at its hottest, it’s time to dive in. Byron Bay is famous for its beaches, and the tranquil breaks are ideal for learning to surf. Novices (or anyone wanting to brush up on their technique) can take a private or small-group lesson to practice skills, ranging from popping up on the board to catching a wave, with other like-minded travelers. Alternatively, book a snorkeling or scuba diving tour of Julian Rocks Marine Reserve, which is teeming with manta rays, wobbegong sharks, and three species of sea turtles, not to mention hundreds of types of fish.
Before you head into town to enjoy Byron’s restaurants, consider an evening paddle. The nearby Brunswick River is a popular place to see the local wildlife, and the birds are especially active around the saltmarsh and wetlands before night falls. Opt for a stand-up paddleboard or kayak tour; guides usually take out small groups, demonstrate basic paddling skills, and point out wildlife that you might not spot on your own. Dip your paddle into the serene waterway, slip past sand dunes and tea tree-lined lakes (ideal for swimming), and be sure to linger at the beach to enjoy the sunset.