Hostelworld Guide for Byron Bay

Eoin White


Famous for surfers who catch waves, hippies who hang out, sun worshippers top up their tans and others who come to be at one with themselves, Byron Bay is the first stop for many backpackers travelling north up the east coast of Australia from Sydney. It's all beaches, bronzed bodies and beautiful people here. As this is mixed with a slow pace of life, your time here could be spent recharging the batteries and taking things down a notch or two. But if you begin to tire of wallowing away in hammocks or lazing on beaches, there are a host of adrenaline pumping activities to push you to the limit also.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: An hour from Byron you'll find The Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta which welcomes domestic flights and international flights from New Zealand, Japan and Malaysia. More domestic flights arrive at Ballina airport, some 30 minutes from Byron. There are regular bus services to the town from both.

By train: The days of getting a train to Byron Bay are sadly over. But the council decided to turn the negative into a positive as the railway station is now a pub (see 'After Dark' below).

By bus: By far the most popular and economical means of getting to Byron is by bus. There are regular coaches running between Sydney and Brisbane which stop at the main bus shelter in the heart of town.

Getting Around

On foot: Byron is a small beachside town and everywhere is within easy walking distance. Take care in the early afternoon though when temperatures can soar.

By bus: Byron has a local bus service but the chances of you using it are very slim indeed. If you are planning a trip out of the town it will be more than likely be on an organised tour.

By taxi: A handful of hostels are located outside the town so if you don't fancy the walk you may need a taxi. It's generally easy to flag down a cab, especially in the town centre. If you have any problems getting into town just ask your hostel to call a cab for you.

 Byron Bay facts

Name: Contrary to popular belief, Byron Bay was not named after the poet Lord Byron. Instead the honour fell to Captain Cook's vice-admiral and one day grandfather to (you guessed it) Lord Byron.
Population: Byron Bay and its surrounding area is home to approximately 30,000 people.
Founded: Discovered in 1770 by Captain Cook, the town wasn't founded until 1860 when it became a shipping port.
Area: The Byron Shire covers an area of 566km².

Byron Bay boasts a subtropical climate which means warm summers and mild winters. You'll actually see more rain during the warmer months (mostly in the evening) while winters are usually dry, clear and sunny. For these reasons the Byron area is lush and green and on most days you'll be able to see rain falling on mountains in the distance. During summer months temperatures hover around the 25°C mark while during winter you'll be looking at a crisp 15°C.

 Good to know...

Language: English
Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
Electricity: 240 volts, 50 cycles
Telephone code: +61 (Australia), 02 (Byron Bay)
Emergency code: 000
Time Zone: GMT +10 hours
Central Post Office: 61 Jonson St
Main Tourist Office: Jonson Street (behind the main bus stand)

Embassies / Consulates

USA: +61 (0)2 9373 9200
UK: +61 (0)2 9247 7521
Canada: +61 (0)2 6270 4000*
South Africa: +61 (0)2 6273 2424*
Ireland: +61 (0)2 9231 6999
Germany: +61 (0)2 6270 1911*
Spain: +61 (0)2 9261 2433
Italy: +61 (0)2 9392 7939
New Zealand: +61 (0)2 8256 2000
France: +61 (0)2 9261 5779
*Number is for embassy in Canberra

Hostelworld Guide for Byron Bay

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Byron Organic Kitchen, 4 Byron Street Byron is full of organic produce and this little café is a great place to grab some tasty grub at any time of the day. There are homemade soups, salads and sandwiches along with freshly made juices which are an ideal, healthy treat while sheltering from the sun. Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, closed Sat & Sun.

Monterray Jacks, 1 Carlyle Street Whether for breakfast or lunch make sure you check out this groovy little café as you're sure to leave satisfied. The prospect of the biggest breakfast in town is one reason to eat here and the other is the backpacker lunch special which serves a different dish every day at budget-friendly prices. Open Mon-Fri 8am-3pm, closed Sat & Sun.

Rainbow Seafood, Lawson Street Traditional fish and chips is the perfect accompaniment to a day at the beach and Rainbow Seafood is the best in town. Its popularity is perfectly displayed on a huge map where visitors have marked their home country with a pin - not much space is left. Kiwi owner Jules will also lock you in conversation for hours if you let him. You have been warned. Open daily 8am-10pm.

 Tip top

Top Shop, 65 Carlyle Street Byron Bay's best kept secret is a small, suburban diner serving an assortment of café favourites made from only the freshest local ingredients. The stars of the show are the mouth-watering burgers which are out of this world and, along with the coffee, the reason why so many locals like to keep this place to themselves. Open daily 6.30am-5pm.

Asia Joe's, Bay Lane Taking their inspiration from Asian street food, the staff at Asia Joe's serve up delicious meals for extremely reasonable prices. As it's small and popular with locals, expect to wait for a table. But once you get one you'll realise it was worth it. Open daily 5pm-11pm.

Buddha Bar and Brewery, 1 Skinners Shoot Road Just outside of town you'll find the uber cool Buddha Bar and Brewery which serves up home brewed beers in a relaxed setting. The bar also has a cinema for those quiet midweek nights and plays host to live music every weekend. Open daily 12 noon-1am.

 Table manners

Cheeky Monkeys, 115 Jonson Street A Byron Bay institution, this is the only place guaranteed to draw the crowds every night of the week. With games, competitions and special offers most nights, it's a huge draw for all the backpackers in town. Take note that it can get extremely busy later in the night once the drinks are cleared for table-top dancing. Mon 7pm-midnight, Tue-Sat 12 noon-3pm & 7pm-midnight, Sun closed.

The Beach Hotel, Bay Street Australia's most easterly hotel is also Byron's largest music venue. Gigs are staged from Thursday to Sunday when it gets jam-packed and you need to arrive early. But beachgoers are also attracted for some refreshment during quieter times like moths to a flame. Open daily 10am-1am.

Cocomanga's, 32 Jonson Street Byron's only real nightclub provides ample space to show off your funky dance moves among countless others. Things don't get going until 11pm, but once they do the ground floor DJ keeps everyone going until the early hours, while upstairs is plenty of space to chill out. Open Mon-Sat 9pm-3am, closed Sun.

The Rails, Jonson Street Heard before it's seen, The Rails is an old converted railway station that boasts its original platform and tracks. It plays host to live music most nights, which pleases the loyal, local crowd who line the bar chatting sporadically in between games of darts. It's a bit rough around the edges, but it's the closest thing to a 'pub' you'll find in Byron. Open daily 12 noon-1am.

 Don't Miss

 Budget Tips

Flying Trapeze Ever wanted to be part of a travelling circus? Well now you've got the opportunity to learn all the tricks of the trade at this indoor circus school complete with a full size flying trapeze for you to have a swing at. During your day you'll get to complete a 'catch' and perform many other death defying stunts.

Surfing It would be criminal to leave Byron without trying surfing at least once as there are few better or more scenic places to learn. You will find a huge choice of surf schools to try and each one guarantees that you will stand on your board while surfing on your first lesson. No pressure of course...

 Catch a kayak

Kayak with dolphins What better way to spend your morning than in the company of playful dolphins out in the middle of the bay? Start out by paddling through breaking waves into calmer waters where you'll find not just dolphins, but sea turtles and humpback whales (at certain times of the year) too. To get up close and personal you're also given time to dive into the water for some snorkelling.

Hang-Gliding One of the best ways to see the stunning east Australian coastline is from up in the air and in Byron Bay hang-gliding is the way to go. Introductory tandem hang-gliding flights are very popular among visitors and once you're up there, hanging on the breeze, you'll see why.

Visit Nimbin Just 70km from Byron Bay is Nimbin, a tiny village famed for attracting those who wish to live an alternative lifestyle. This is all thanks to the 'Aquarius Festival' which was held there in 1973 and attracted many students, 'hippies' and more. Most of these stayed, making the village what it is today.

For details of tours/activities visit the tourist office.

Take the free shuttle buses There are a number of free shuttle buses that will take you to some of the town's most popular bars. One of the most frequent runs to the Buddha Bar and Brewery and if you're there during the evening you can hop on one back to Cheeky Monkeys to keep the night going.

Book tours at the tourist office When booking tours do it through the town's tourist information office as they don't add a fee for the service. They also have a board with all the latest deals on activities in the local area along with up to date information regarding any special offers that might be available.

Gain free entry to bars While walking around town during the early evening keep your eyes peeled for reps handing out coupons and bracelets for free entry to the local bars and clubs. If you do manage to spot them you will probably also get a free drinks voucher, which is nice. And ask in your hostel if they have an arrangement with Cocomanga's - most do.

 Go east!

Walk to Australia's most easterly point For a fun, free half-day out take a walk to Cape Byron Lighthouse and enjoy some spectacular scenery along the way. Starting at the beach, follow the paths around the headland through protected rainforest and past Australia's most easterly point to get to the summit for breathtaking views. The best times to go are at sunrise and sunset and a round trip takes about two hours.

Rent a bike As Byron is a cruisy sort of place, cruising around on a bike for as little as $10 a day is a great way to explore this famous town. Then you can explore other beaches such as Tullow Beach which isn't as busy as Main Beach, and the lush Arakwal National Park. For bike rentals visit 'Surf & Bike Hire' at 31 Lawson St.

Hostelworld Guide for Byron Bay