Unless you have been hiding under a rock, I think most people know that Byron Bay has some pretty incredible beaches. But beaches is not beaches for everyone- it depends what you are looking for.
Belongil Beach in Byron
Is located on the western side of the Main Beach car park and offers a quieter beach by Byron standards for nice walks or a beach horse ride. It’s a 2.5km stretch to the mouth of Belongil Creek. Zephyr Horse Riding offer rides along this quieter stretch of beach, here you can feel the wind in your hair and enjoy the splash of the waves. The beach is dog friendly from the point adjacent to Manfred Street extending easterly to a point on the western side of Main Beach Car Park.
Main Beach Byron
You feel like the town of Byron literally flows out onto the sand at Main Beach. Here you can see and be seen! A meeting place for locals and people from all over the world, Main Beach has personality, colour, noise and atmosphere! Being so popular, this beach has lifeguards all year!
Walk along the calmer bay like waters to Clarkes Beach, situated between Main Beach and The Pass. This area of the beach is fairly well protected offering calmer swimming conditions (except if it’s a Northerly). You’ll see many learn to surf schools here and young families.
The Pass is a famous surf beach for its right-hand point break when the swell is good. Climb the stairs to the top of the viewing platform to gain a birds eye view of the surfers below and beautiful views of Cape Byron Marine Park. If you want a carpark, get there very early, this place is busy, same with the waves, if you are learning to surf make way for the local, more experienced surfers. The Pass Café tucked in the trees behind the beach offers great views of the surf and dishes up breakfast and lunch 7 days.
Watego’s and Little Watego’s
It is no wonder this little patch of paradise is on millionaires row! Wategos Beach is a 2 km walk from the Byron Bay town centre. It also sits at the base of the Cape Byron Lighthouse, perched high on the hill. The walking path between The Pass and Wategos, via Little Wategoes and up to the Lighthouse is a must for the reasonably fit given there are a few steep sections. If you’ve never ventured to Australia’s most easterly point then don’t miss this. It does get very busy and parking can be at a premium so be prepared!
A sheltered little beach that is ideal for families, a fantastic place to picnic, play in the sand and swim. BBQ’s and picnic tables are available but you’ll need to be quick to nab them!
At the far end of Tallow Beach to the south of the Cape Byron Lighthouse lies the Broken Head Nature Reserve. Surround yourself with spectacular beauty, rainforest walks and pristine beaches. If you want to get away from the crowds at Byron’s Main Beach without going too far then this is the ideal place. Don’t miss the track through the rainforest to the Three Sisters lookout and emerge to stunning views and isolated beaches looking south towards Lennox Head.
Just a 20 minute drive south of Byron Bay along the Coast Road is the beachside town of Lennox Head. This trendy surf town boasting restaurants and cafes, boutiques and the best gelato shop! face the magnificent seven mile beach. The northern end beyond the surf club offers 4WD enthusiasts the opportunity to take to the sand (just pick up a permit from the electronic booth opposite the surf club) and an off-leash dog friendly beach. This is seclusion, nature and untouched beauty at its best.
Further south is the family friendly ‘boat channel’ off Rutherford Street. It’s a safe haven for swimming and snorkeling and on a high tide the reef provides the perfect protection from the waves.
If surfing is your thing, try out the waves beneath the Lennox Point headland. This is a famous world class right hand surf break – one of the top ten breaks in Australia. What makes it even better is it doesn’t have the crowds trying to compete for the waves.
Ok, so technically this isn’t a beach, but we have to mention the tranquil fresh tea tree stained waters of Lake Ainsworth. The lake is located alongside Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head. It is popular with families and everyone really. In summer you’ll see oversized white swans and pink flamingoes floating on the lake as well as stand up paddle boards and kayaks enjoying its beauty and calm waters. With free BBQs and grassed areas surrounding its beach areas, the lake is a popular attraction for leisure and the therapeutic benefits of its tea tree infused waters.
The 32 Kms of Pristine Beaches South of Byron
Including Lennox, this section of the east coast boasts 32 kilometres of pristine beaches all the way to the river town of Ballina in the South (just 31 kms from Byron Bay). If you are looking for great surf beaches, peace and quiet, easy/free beachside parking, coastal walks and safe swimming then these are just some of the benefits of heading south of Byron.
The Ballina Coast is one of those underrated areas that continues to attract people from all over but still feels very local.
Sharpes Beach just south of Lennox has a resident coffee truck and food truck parked beside the sand. It reminds me of the vibe you got at Byron’s Wategos Beach years ago! Grab a coffee and walk along the sand around to Flat Rock (a unique basalt outcrop – the ‘flat’ rock’ – jutting seaward from a grassy promontory and surrounded by coastal bushland) or take the Coastal Recreation Path through the bushland if on bike, scooter or pushing pram duty.
Flat Rock is popular with kite surfers, a viewing platform on the coastal path gives a great place to watch these colourful crafts litter the skyline.
Deciding to stick to the coastal path, maybe picking up the walking pace, you come across Angels Beach and Shelley. You’ll see families and kids fossicking along Shelley Beach and its rock pools through the thousands of beautiful shells that line its beach each morning. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to guess where this beach got its name!!
Time for the best smoothie you’ve ever had at the Belle General Café along Shelley Beach Road and their famous fish tacos – totally mouth-watering. Then it’s up to the Ballina Lookout, little Lighthouse and onto Lighthouse Beach that finishes at the North Wall, the opening to the mighty Richmond River.
Walk the length of the North Wall and wave to the guys in the Marine Tower as you pass. These volunteers monitor the treacherous Ballina bar. At the very end the elevated viewing area allows you to appreciate the river and the beaches to the north and south, see dolphins, watch surfers and boats manage the incoming waves. You might also need to dodge the bike riders and kids whizzing past on their scooters. This popular shared path continues along the river all the way into the town centre of Ballina.
Speaking of beaches South! Why not continue your journey along River Street, through the town centre and take the Burns Point Ferry to South Ballina (From $6.50 for vehicles one-way as at October 2020).
When you get off the ferry, turn left and follow the Richmond River Nature Reserve all the way to the South Wall. Here you can wander out along the wall and admire the views of Ballina Island to the north. If nature, bird watching and a secluded bay for cooling off in is your thing, then you do not want to miss Mobbs Bay near the mouth of the Richmond River. Mobbs Bay is a deep indentation in the south bank, protected by the South Ballina break wall. This is a great spot for bird watching with the reserve containing mangrove, saltmarsh, coastal heath and paperbark swamp with littoral rainforest elements home to many species of birds including the pied oyster catcher.
There is a camp ground, Ballina Beach Village over that side, but not much else. They do have a fairly cool well stocked kiosk and café out the front that welcome visitors, otherwise you’ve got to catch the car ferry back to Ballina and what feels like civilisation.