Whether you’re into surfing, swimming or lazy days on the sand, there’s no better place for a beach holiday than Byron Bay. Located on Australia’s East Coast, the town enjoys an enviable coastal lifestyle, with so many places to throw down your beach towel that it’s hard to know where to start.
In this article, we’ll introduce all of the best Byron Bay beaches (including those surrounding the town and a few beyond), so you can start planning your next coastal vacation.
Main Beach is where everything happens in Byron Bay as it lies directly in front of the town. It stretches east from the carpark at the end of Johnson Street to Clarkes Beach and west to the oceanfront Apex Park. A grassy lawn backs the sand where people come to socialise, picnic and play music, with a really sociable, laid-back vibe.
Main Beach is a great spot for swimming, with gentle waves and the Byron Bay Surf Club (one of Australia’s oldest) watching on for your peace of mind. There are barbecues and toilets backing this Byron Bay beach, as well as a children’s playground. When it’s time to eat, you can take your pick from the global eateries that line Johnson Street or feast on seafood at Fishheads. At the end of the day, be sure to join the locals for sundowners at the iconic Beach Hotel.
Parking in the Main Beach carpark is $4 per hour, with a four-hour parking limit enforced between 9 am to 6 pm throughout the week.
- Family Friendly (beach is patrolled).
- Shops, cafes and restaurants close by.
- Grass areas for picnics.
Belongil Beach & The Wreck
Directly west of Main Beach is Belongil Beach, a 2.5-kilometre stretch of sand that’s often quieter than its neighbour. It’s a popular setting for long beach strolls, particularly amongst local dog owners thanks to the off-leash area between Manfred Street and the Main Beach car park. While Belongil Beach is relatively safe for swimming, it’s best to do so near the Main Beach end where the waters are patrolled.
One of Belongil Beach’s most famous features is the SS Wollongbar, a passenger steamship that got stranded in the surf here in 1921. It’s now a great snorkelling spot, as well as having a sheltered reef break that attracts surfers when the conditions are right.
The closest toilets to Belongil Beach are in Apex Park (near the Byron Bay Surf Club), with parking available at Main Beach ($4 per hour) or on Border, Don and Childe streets.
On the other side of Main Beach is Clarkes Beach, which is one of the best Byron Bay beaches for beginners learning to surf. This north-facing strip of sand has relatively small, consistent waves, as well as some rocky areas near the shore where you can snorkel and swim.
Clarkes Beach is just a 10-minute walk from the centre of Byron Bay and due to its easy accessibility, it’s usually packed with surfers from sun-up to sun-down! To watch all the action, grab a bite to eat at the Byron Beach Cafe, which overlooks Clarkes.
Parking in the Clarkes Beach carpark is $4 per hour, with a four-hour parking limit enforced between 9 am to 6 pm throughout the week.
- Great for begninner surfers.
- Beware, parking can be scarce.
If you continue heading east from Clarkes Beach, you’ll end up at The Pass, another surf break that enjoys near-perfect conditions for long rides. A set of stairs lead up to the Fisherman’s Lookout where you can watch the surfers in action. Alternatively, head to the Pass Cafe, which is located just behind the beach on Brooke Drive and serves up delicious breakfasts and lunches in a forested setting.
The Pass is around 30 minutes on foot from the centre of Byron Bay. Unfortunately, it’s not dog-friendly but there are toilets nearby. Parking at The Pass costs $4 per hour, with a four-hour parking limit enforced between 9 am to 6 pm throughout the week.
- Has a stunning lookout.
- The Pass Cafe serves a delicious variety of food and drinks.
One of Byron Bay’s most beautiful beaches, Wategos, lies to the east of The Pass and can be accessed on foot via the Cape Byron walking trail in around 40 minutes. Backed by million-dollar properties, this sheltered strip of sand is ideal for swimming, with crystal clear waters and gentle waves for beginner surfers and longboarders.
Barbecues and picnic tables are dotted beneath the shady trees that back the sand while great coffee and hearty fare is dished up at the Soul Kitchen Cafe.
Parking at Wategos Beach costs $4 per hour, with a four-hour parking limit enforced between 9 am to 6 pm throughout the week. Parking is VERY limited here, so arrive early or you’ll miss out!
- Picnic benches and barbecues are available.
- Perfect for familis as it is a sheltered beach.
- Restaurants close by.
Little Wategos Beach
A wooden pathway leads from Wategos Beach to Little Wategos, which holds the title of being Australia’s most easterly mainland beach. At just 150 metres in length, it is one of Byron Bay’s shortest stretches of sand but enchanting, to say the least. Swimming and sunbathing are the orders of the day here, with the sheltered setting making it ideal for kids.
From Little Wategos Beach, you can follow the trail that leads up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse, a whitewashed landmark that offers sweeping views across the coastline. There is no parking at Little Wategos Beach, so either leave your car at Wategos Beach or come on foot from Main Beach.
Tallow Beach & Cosy Corner
On the other side of the Cape Byron headland is Tallow Beach, a long stretch of sand that forms part of Arakwal National Park. At its northern end is Cosy Corner, a popular surf spot that is protected from the northerly winds but does experience strong rips.
There are great views across Tallow Beach and Cosy Corner from the Cape Byron walking track, with the sand stretching all the way south to Broken Head. In the middle of the beach is an off-leash area where you can let your dogs roam free, with the rougher conditions here meaning it’s not so popular with surfers or swimmers.
Tallow Beach can be accessed from the carpark at the end of Tallow Beach Road and costs $4 per hour.
- Dog friendly areas.
- Part of Arakwal National Park.
- BEWARE – Unpatrolled and experiences strong rips, probably not the most family friendly Byron Bay beaches.
Best Beaches Near Byron Bay
Situated around 20 minutes drive from Byron Bay is Tyagarah Beach, a seven-kilometre-long stretch of coastline that is protected within a nature reserve. It’s the perfect spot for swimming and sunbathing away from the crowds, as well as offering the chance to spot migrating humpback whales in the spring. Tyagarah also has a “clothing optional” section of sand, which is located around 500 metres to the west of Belongil Creek.
Tyagarah Beach can be accessed via Grays Lane, with parking available on site. Entrance to the Tyagarah Nature Reserve costs $8 per vehicle per day, with a self-registration booth on-site (bring the correct change!)
At the far northern end of the Tyagarah Nature Reserve is Torakina Beach, a sheltered stretch of paradise that’s just five minutes’ walk from the cafes of Brunswick Heads. It’s particularly popular with families due to its swell-free waters, picnic tables and bathrooms, as well as boasting two much-loved children’s playgrounds.
Backing the beach is the grassy bushland of Torakina Park while the meandering Brunswick River is just waiting to be explored by kayak or stand-up paddleboard.
Free parking is available at Torakina Beach.
At the far end of Tallow Beach is Suffolk Park, which curves gently south towards Broken Head. Because it is so exposed, this beach features strong rips roughly every 250 metres, so you should only swim between the patrolled area in front of the Suffolk Park township. There are also some beach breaks, although we would only recommend experienced surfers head out due to the rips.
At the beachfront Gaggin Park, you’ll find a children’s playground and toilets, as well as picnic tables and barbecues. Dog owners can let their pups run off-leash along some sections of Suffolk Park – just check the signage on arrival.
Parking costs $4 per vehicle per hour, with pay and display machines on site that accept both cash and cards.
Broken Head Beach
Less than 10 minutes’ drive south from Byron Bay will see you at Broken Head Beach, which lies at the far end of Broken Head Reserve Road. This stunning stretch of sand provides a setting for swimming, surfing and fishing, as well as the occasional game of beach cricket.
To spot migrating whales, you can follow the Three Sisters walking trail that leads through a tract of rainforest to a viewpoint overlooking Kings Beach.
Parking costs $4 per vehicle per hour, with pay and display machines on site that accept both cash and cards.
Seven Mile Beach
If you continue south, you’ll eventually end up at Seven Mile Beach, which is located in the town of Lennox Head, around 20 minutes’ drive south of Byron Bay. It’s famed for its right hand surf break, which is considered one of the top 10 waves in the country. For swimming and snorkelling, head to the boat channel off Rutherford Street where you’ll be protected from the waves.
If you’re into off-road driving, you can purchase a beach access permit from one of the self-registration machines on Camp Drewe Road ($20 per day, card only) and explore the secluded northern end of Seven Mile Beach. Dogs are also permitted off-leash in this area.
Parking is available at the Surf Life Saving Club near Lake Ainsworth, which is at the northern end of the township.
- Dog-friendly from north of Lake Ainsworth.
- A wide and sandy open beach.
- Patrolled seasonally.
Where to stay in Byron Bay
From Airbnbs to caravan parks, luxury dwellings and apartments, Byron Bay offers accommodation to suit all travel styles and budgets. You can splurge at the iconic Byron at Byron, stay at the hacienda-inspired Raes at Wategos or park your camper at the waterfront Clarkes Beach Holiday Park. For a touch of nostalgia, stay at the beautifully renovated Clarkes Beach Cottages or bunk down in a teepee at the legendary Arts Factory Lodge.
Byron BAy BEaches: Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to swim at Byron Bay beaches?
Main Beach (which lies directly in front of the Byron Bay Surf Club) is generally a safe place to swim, with mostly gentle waves and lifesavers on patrol throughout the year. Belongil Beach is also a good option, although we would recommend swimming at the end closest to Main Beach where you’ll be within view of the lifeguards.
Both Wategos and Little Wategos beaches are great alternatives, with sheltered waters and the added bonus of perhaps spotting dolphins or migrating whales.
Is Byron Bay beach disappearing?
While Byron Bay has been experiencing an erosion process known as “headland bypassing” at Main Beach, it definitely hasn’t disappeared! Recent aerial imagery has shown that sand is gradually moving back towards Main Beach and the Byron Shire Council is currently intervening to help prevent future erosion.