5 Things in Byron Bay
Byron Bay is located right in the centre of Australia’s eastern coast. 777km north of Sydney but only 166km south of Brisbane. We visited Byron Bay during our east coast road-trip thinking we would stay a day or two, we stayed six.
It’s an easy town to stay in, and after driving for two weeks camping at random spots along the way we took a bit of a rest in Byron Bay.
WHERE TO STAY
There are lots of options of where to stay in Byron Bay depending on the kind of trip you are having. There are beach houses, hotels, hostels, spas and campgrounds. As we were totally comfortable living in our wicked camper, we chose to camp. There are lots of options for camping and caravan parks. We wanted to be close to town without spending a fortune which turned out to be really easy.
Glen Villa is right inside the town, directly behind a Woolworths and five minutes from the beach. It has wifi, laundry, showers, an outdoor kitchen, and some really aggressive birds. Hot tip: kookaburra’s are mean, protect your food. One flew straight at me, stole a kabob off the grill, then took off and ate it in a tree. It came back every day to see what else it could get, but we were wise to the bird.
It was a great spot. Basically just full of other camper vans, you have your wicked campers, your space ships, your juicy campers, your hippie vans. Very clean, very relaxed, very conveniently located and after days on the road it felt very civilized.
THINGS TO DO
Just off the shore of Byron Bay is Julian Rocks, a protected nature reserve, comprised of two small islands. The Rocks are surrounded by beautiful fish, sea turtles, seals and passing whales. Julian Rocks is just a five minute boat ride from shore and is surrounded by beautiful aquatic life including three different species of sea turtles. We went snorkelling with the Byron Bay Dive Centre. They provided all the gear including a wet suit. Their guides were really excited to point out special the wildlife and give tips on snorkelling technique.
Kayaking is just one way to experience the abundance of wildlife in Byron Bay. Cape Byron Kayaks offers group kayaking experiences with experienced guides who have a lot of local knowledge regarding the marine life. Our tour had about 30 other kayakers of varying abilities. Humpback whales migrate through Byron Bay in the spring, and we were lucky enough to get a front row seat of some whales passing. Although, I have to admit, being in an open kayak, in the open ocean, with just a helmet, next to leaping humpback whales is a bit nerve-wracking. A young Aussie girl, who was kayaking with a guide, asked if anyone on our tour spoke English. She asked directly after we were speaking with her and the guide. I guess she doesn’t understand Canadian!
Australia’s most easterly point is home to a gigantic white lighthouse. Construction for the lighthouse began in 1899 and today is the brightest lighthouse in Australia, shinning at an intensity of 2,200,000 cd. You can start the hike from downtown on the beachside trail and walk all the way up to the lighthouse, or you can drive (but where’s the fun in that?). The hike is a rolling trail that you’ll have to share with dozens of other tourists; the lighthouse gets approximately 500,000 visitors a year. The trail offers stunning viewpoints where you can watch for whales, dolphins, surfers or just look out into the never-ending horizon of nothingness.
4. Wategos Beach
When you’re done the hike to the lighthouse plan for a picnic and a swim at Wategos beach, you’ll need it. The white sandy beach is in it’s own little cove. It has changing stations and an outdoor barbeque area. The beach gets some nice little surf so it is a perfect place to stop for some food and a little swim in the waves after a hike.
5. Catch the sunset drum circle
Just before sunset on main beach an incredible drum circle forms. Drummers of all skill levels come together and jam. Dozens of people join the crowd to listen and dance. The incredible Australian sunset combined with the rhythmic punctuation of the drumming is a special combination. It’s like staring into a fire.