So, you’ve arrived in the beautiful and iconic Byron Bay?
What to do next is the big question… and we’ve got the answer.
Hiring your own car is essential to experience all that Byron Bay has to offer.
At Byron Bay Rent-A-Car we offer a range of vehicles to take your Byron Bay adventure to the next level. Are you ready to enjoy the real Byron Bay?
Why rent a car in
Byron Bay town itself has many beautiful things on offer: delicious cafes and restaurants, the iconic Byron Bay Lighthouse and of course, the beaches… but there is so much more to see.
With limited public transport in Byron Bay, most people walk, drive or cycle to get around. So if you’re visiting the area, hiring your own car is the best way to travel so you can get to the beaches that are a bit more tucked away, the lighthouse to watch the sunset (without having to walk home in the dark) and most importantly the surrounding Northern Rivers.
So what are you waiting for? Book a rental car here or read on to see our list of the best things to do in Byron Bay.
Your Byron Bay adventure awaits.
At Byron Bay Rent-A-Car, we provide the vehicle and inspiration you’ll need to experience the ultimate Byron Bay holiday.
We have stylish MG3s or cost-saving secondhand cars for day trips, Nissan X-Trail SUVs for the more adventurous, Mystery Machine campervans for an iconic Byron Bay camping experience and luxury 8-seaters for families and small groups.
Rent a car and see for yourself that Byron Bay is a lot more than a tourist hotspot by exploring the beautiful hinterland, waterfalls, national parks and neighbouring towns.
Best Restaurants in Byron Bay
Byron is home to a vast range of delicious cuisines with various restaurants and pubs to choose from. For delicious and fresh south-east Asian food, Light Years, tucked away in Bay Lane will not disappoint. Loft Byron Bay boasts beautiful views of the bay if you’re seated in the terrace area, as well as fabulous cocktails.
For all the vegans out there, Yulli’s serves up modern Asian cuisine that will leave the non-vego’s in awe and finally the Byron Beach Hotel will always be a classic, with live music and expansive outdoor areas under a fairy light covered teepee. However, if you want to take a ride in your hire car and get out of the hustle and bustle of central Byron Bay town, here are some of our must try restaurants.
Tree House | Byron Bay
Located just outside the centre of Byron Bay, day or night, Tree House will have you covered. Step off the beautiful sands of Belongil beach after your morning surf and grab a delicous coffee to start your day.
Then once the sun goes down it’s time for wood-fired pizza (the best in Byron Bay), cocktails and live music; but they’re much more than just Pizza.
With an open aired, casual dining layout, eclectic decor and relaxed vibes, you’ll be sure to have fun here.
La Casita | Brunswick Heads
Just north of Byron Bay in the sleepy, beachside town of Brunswick Heads, La Casita is doing anything but sleeping. Open Friday to Monday for Lunch and Dinner, this modern, Mexican restaurant is casual and groovy, filled with rustic decor and a lot of charm. The best way to describe their food – simple, quality, delicious.
It’s a small interior only seating 10 but outside in the leafy courtyard there’s space for 30 and they leave half the restaurant for walk-ins so if you get a hankering for Mexican, you won’t be left in the cold. The restaurant is just a short walk from the centre of town, during the day it might be a bit harder to spot, but after dark when the neon “Mexican” sign is glowing you won’t miss it.
This charming, country pub is a hidden gem only 40 minutes drive from Byron Bay. Established in 1902, Eltham Hotel is the centrepiece of the small historical town of Eltham. 15 kilometres shy of Lismore, if you take the right route (down Bangalow Road NOT the highway) you’ll get to enjoy a beautiful scenic drive on your journey from Byron Bay.
When you arrive, Eltham Hotel will not disappoint. There are good pub feeds and there’s GOOD pub feeds. At Eltham Hotel they’ve got your pub classics, of course, but also an array of delicious “non-pub” meals. The outdoor courtyard is the perfect place for a relaxing arvo with your mates.
Best Best Byron Bay Cafés
One thing we’re not short on here in Byron Bay is cafes – extensive, is probably the best word to describe it. Next time you’re in Byron definitely grab an açai bowl from The Byron General Store or bring a picnic blanket and sprawl out on the grass with an epic burger from Top Shop. Ooh and don’t forget Espressohead (located near Byron Bay library), their smashed peas with feta, salsa verde and poached eggs is next level.
Many may think the cafe scene ends after the stretch between Barrio (Sunrise) to Roadhouse (edge of Byron Bay before Suffolk Park)… which are both fabulous by the way as well, but there is so much more to explore behind the wheel of your Byron Bay hire car.
The Belle General | East Ballina
First things first, we’ll take a little trip to East Ballina. The Belle General, an old general store turned rustic cafe, established itself in 2013 and continues to impress. Walk straight off the sand of Shelly Beach, and cross the road to the Belle General where you’ll enjoy fresh, clean, vibrant food and delicious Allpress coffee (or one of their amazing smoothies… you’ll be hooked).
The Belle General specialises in creating amazing gluten & dairy free alternatives that do not lack in quality, flavour or texture, whilst still offering a large variety of wheat and dairy options so everyone feels at home. Side note: If you’re in Ballina town and not feeling the drive out east, their little sister cafe, Belle Central, is located in central Ballina town and is equally delicious.
Clunes Cafe | Clunes
Take a short scenic drive down Bangalow Road (you might have already passed them once before if you’ve checked out Eltham Pub and didn’t even know it) and tucked away in the tiny village of Clunes beside a general store, lives Clunes Cafe.
It’s cute, quaint and rustic, delivering something new and delicious every time you go, with daily changing cabinet food. Perfect for quick eats, fresh, fruity smoothies and Allpress coffee (everything is served take-away). Enjoy the peace and quiet out on the wooden benches, surrounded by greenery or take your food to the park across the road.
Doma | Federal
Now to Federal. Not too far from Minyon Falls, Nightcap National Park and Mt Warning is a little village called Federal. Twenty-five minutes from Byron Bay, you’ll find Doma on the main street in an early 1900’s historical building. You won’t miss it.
Doma is where Japanese fusion meets Modern Australian food, so if you can’t decide between sushi and a delectable array of Japanese dishes, or a delicious burger, now you can have them both. Doma is very popular among the locals and if you’re travelling through the hinterland towards Nimbin or Lismore you can’t NOT stop here. With quality food full of vibrant flavours and creative flare it truly is… Worth. The. Drive.
Best Beaches in Byron Bay
Wategoes Beach, one of Byron Bay’s treasures, is most easily accessed by car, as it’s not in the main part of Byron Bay. However, if you’re up for the walk it is lovely, albeit tiresome in the sun. Wategoes is a beautiful, sheltered beach with grassy knolls, picnic tables and BBQ’s just off the beach, perfect for an all-day beach hang.
If you get over the sand but still want the cool breeze and a sunset view, head to Rae’s Cellar Bar for some casual beachside dining, 50m off the beach. But be warned… parking is limited, so it may be a few laps… if not a few more… before you get a spot at this beloved beach.
Byron Bay’s most iconic and famous beach, the Pass, is a stretch of sand between Clarke’s and Wategoes that draws in people from all over Australia. Coined as one of Australia’s best surfing beaches, it’s no wonder The Pass is exceedingly popular with both locals and tourists and unsurprisingly busy year round.
Located on a National Park Reserve there are multiple grassy picnic and BBQ areas available for use, next to a little path that will take you right to Wategoes. With waves for everyone from novice to pro you have to be careful surfing amongst the crowds in the water. As well as its beautiful, long waves and lovely family beach, the Pass also acts as the launch point for dive boats going out to explore Julian Rocks.
Belongil Beach has two main access points, via the Main Beach carpark and Belongil itself, both making for two completely different beach experiences. The southern side is separated from Main Beach by the break wall and is a popular location being so easily accessed from town. It’s right in front of a ship wreck known solely as “The Wreck”, also a popular surf spot among locals.
The other main entrance is directly across the road from Treehouse on Belongil (mentioned above) and is a calmer atmosphere and the dog friendly side of the beach. Come down to Belongil Beach and enjoy a beautiful 2.5km walk from Belongil Creek to the edge of Main Beach.
Broken Head Beach
Cosy Corner Beach
Best Waterfalls in Byron Bay
This stunning waterfall is part of the Nightcap National Park, 45 minutes from Byron Bay. Although its most impressive when overflowing after heavy rain, Minyon Falls is beautiful all year round. At the top of the waterfall lookout you can explore the creek, rock pools, and gaze down at an incredible expanse of vibrant rainforest treetops. If this isn’t enough, take yourself down the 13km return walking track. You’ll find yourself surrounded by Australian rainforest and wildlife, topped off by the refreshing swimming hole at the base. The park has picnic, BBQ facilities and toilets, allowing you to enjoy the scenery and fresh air all day.
This not-so-hidden gem is now a popular tourist attraction… and it’s no secret as to why. For a view from the top, follow the walking track up to a lookout over the water. The base of the waterfall can be found by following the distinct (but steep) dirt track, and then along the rocky creek surrounded by luscious, green rainforest. Once you’ve reached the base and taken in the stunning 10m falls, follow the shallow rock pool around up into the cool, rocky cave behind the waterfall. For the full experience, climb down underneath the falls for a very, powerful “shower”. Don’t forget to snap that Insta pic!
If you’re up for a little adventure, head for a drive through the beautiful scenery out-skirting Alstonville to Marom Falls. Just a 500m trail walk under fences and through the fields, this waterfall is a secluded oasis where farms and forest meet — away from the tourist traffic. At the end of the track you’ll find yourself at the top of the rocky cliff with the only two ways down – jump off into the pool below or scale the slippery, uneven path down the side. Make sure you come prepared as there are no amenities, and leave this beautiful location just as you found it!
Nature Reserves & Hiking near Byron Bay
Byron Bay is where the forest meets the sea. Now that we’ve discussed our favourite beaches, it’s time to move back into the hinterland to explore Byron’s other half. Believe or not, our coastline is not our only wonder.
Nightcap National Park
Located in the Lismore hinterland just 45 minutes inland of Byron Bay, Nightcap National Park’s beauty is incomprehensible. This World Heritage Listed treasure is host to many stunning nature walks. They range from a light 45 minute stroll to a full blown one and a half day exploration.
With 4 picnic areas (all with amenities) it makes for an ideal day-trip but can also be extended into a camping adventure and we haven’t even gotten to the best part. In addition to the gorgeous rainforest landscapes and bush walks, both the spectacular Minyon Falls and Protestor Falls are situated in this national park. If you are in the mood for a refreshing freshwater swim, the swimming hole at the base of Minyon Falls is the way to go. While Protestor Falls is visually spectacular, swimming is discouraged as it is home to the endangered Fleay’s barred frog. Words will by no means do this rainforest justice. The only thing to do is to drive out and experience it for yourself.
Border Rangers National Park
Located near Murwillumbah on the rim of a vast volcano sits Border Rangers National Park. With over 30,000 hectares of National Park this gem boasts abundant rainforests, stunning views, pristine creeks and spectacular plunging waterfalls. Being a part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage, much of the flora and fauna remain protected, unchanged and untouched since ancient times.
The national park offers scenic walks, cycling, camping and picnic facilities, so take extra care to not make a mark on the environment while you are visiting. Start with a sunrise at Pinnacle Lookout and work your way down through the array of waterfalls – Brushbox Falls, Evans Falls, Selva and Swanson Falls and if you can’t wake up that early, venture to the Pinnacle last for a sunset of dancing pastels, the perfect way to end your day.
Bald Rock National Park
Located in Tenterfield, just south of the Queensland border, Bald Rock National Park garnered its name from its most prominent and striking feature – Bald Rock, which rises 200 metres above its surrounds. Stretching 750 meters long and 500 meters wide, Bald Rock, decorated at the hands of water-streaking, holds the crown as the largest granite rock in Australia.
There are two marked tracks to lead you on your expedition. Bungoona walk is the easier of the two but we still wouldn’t call it “easy”, taking you past granite boulders on a gradually ascending bush walk. Then on the other hand you have — Rockface walk, a steep walk on the exposed side of Bald Rock, both leading to the summit. Regardless of how you get to the top, this is the time to step back and enjoy the panoramic views and stunning scenery. If climbing a massive rock isn’t your thing, explore the other array of bush walking tracks on offer.
The Best Places for Camping in Byron Bay
But for the ultimate camping experience we recommend jumping in your Byron Bay rental car and heading south on the highway (don’t worry it’s not very far). Pack your car and hit the road for the weekend, you won’t regret it.
Woody Head | Iluka
An easy 1 hour drive south, Woody Head is ready and waiting for you, with all amenities in tow such as showers (don’t forget your gold coins, even just for a cold one), toilets and BBQ’s. Located within the Bundjalung National Park, even with 94 sites, Woody Head is a relaxed camp ground but that does mean an early noise curfew, so it’s not the best place for partying (you might scare the Wallabies away).
Their sites accommodate tents, caravans, camper trailers and camping beside your vehicles. It’s a beautiful option for a weekend away with a sheltered bay that’s perfect for swimming, as well as an expansive rock platform and boat ramp to fulfil your fishing dreams. There are beautiful neighbouring beaches for both swimming and surfing plus (if your car accommodates) Woody Head’s 10 Mile Beach is an ideal track for 4WD.
Brooms Head | Yamba
A little further down the ways, just short of 2 hours from Byron Bay, Brooms Head is 20 minutes east of the highway in Yuraygir National Park and this beach hideaway does not disappoint. With expansive views, spacious campsites and the beach on your doorstep, your weekend is sure to be one to remember.
The beachfront and lagoon side campsites at Brooms Head Caravan Park are suitable for tents, caravans, camper trailers and camping beside your vehicles. The beaches are stunning and pristine, well suited for fishing, surfing or swimming and unlike most, uncrowded. Only a few kilometres north of Brooms Head, the rock pools at Lake Arragan and panoramic views off the top of Red Cliff are a must-see before you leave… trust us on this one.
Wooli | Clarence Valley
Also in Yuraygir National Park, the sleepy village of Wooli is something to behold. Exactly 2 hours south of Byron Bay, the town of Wooli is practically an island, perfectly placed at the end of a narrow peninsular between the Pacific Ocean and the sparkling Wooli Wooli river. There are 7 different camping grounds and parks in the area and thanks to Wooli’s incredible landscape, you’re able to camp in the bush, by the beach or on the river (of course some of these will be more secluded and provide no amenities, so keep that in mind).
Just as Byron Bay’s beaches are beautiful, Wooli’s pristine rivers and stunning waters are what makes it truly magical. But you don’t just come to stare and swim in the water either. Where the beach meets the dividing break wall, between ocean and river, Wooli really comes alive. The southern corner is the spot to hit for surf breaks, a premium fishing experience and provides 4WD access onto Wooli Beach, which curves for over 6km to Wilsons Headland.
Things to do in Byron Bay
Byron Bay Hang Gliding
Are you looking for a breathtaking view and a thrilling adventure? Feel the freedom of soaring gracefully above the cliffs of the world famous Cape Byron Lighthouse for an unforgettable, scenic experience.
Depart from the Cape Byron Headland with Byron Airwaves, who offer 30 minute introductory tandem flights with an experienced instructor. For the most epic views of Byron Bay, take to the skies! And don’t forget to keep an eye out for the dolphins and turtles splashing about in Byron Bay waters.
Learn to Surf in Byron Bay!
Surfing is a fundamental part of Byron Bay’s culture and is largely responsible for drawing in the big crowds. However, it’s not as simple as just stand up and go. We all have to start somewhere, so why not start your surf experience with Let’s Go Surfing.
They offer both private and group lessons for beginners, in packages of 1, 3 or 5. And if you’re wanting to experience something different and maybe a little calmer, set aside 2.5 hours to find out why Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) is one of the fastest growing water sports. Where better to learn to surf than on the beaches of Byron Bay?
Swim with the Turtles
In under 10 minutes, you could be serenely swimming with the turtles. Sitting just off the most easterly point of Australia, Julian Rocks Marine Sanctuary is home to an abundance of mesmerising sea creatures such as turtles, manta rays, hundreds of exotic fish and more. Its location at the intersection of the tropical Coral sea and cooler Tasman Sea is the secret behind its vibrant and diverse marine life. There are many areas to explore and Julian Rocks offers optimal diving and snorkelling conditions due to its protected, shallow waters. Byron Bay Dive Centre will take you on a return boat ride, provide hire equipment and an experienced guide to ensure you get the most out of your underwater adventure.
If you love the adrenaline rush of extreme sports then you won’t be able to go past the epic experience of tandem skydiving with Skydiving Byron Bay. Flying up to an altitude of 15000 feet, your skydive starts with a thrilling 200km an hour free fall for up to 60 seconds, before the instructor pulls the parachute at around 4000 feet.
As everything comes to a still, take in the panoramic views of the Byron Bay coastline and hinterland, the Gold Coast and even as far as Brisbane, as you make your slow descent back down to solid ground. Skydiving Byron Bay boasts their own self-contained drop zone, private airstrip and hangar and with the world class service of their friendly staff, it’ll be an experience to remember!
Hot Air Ballooning
Byron Bay Ballooning offers majestic and stunning sunrise flights over the Byron Bay Hinterland. Starting out in the pre-dawn light, enjoy the breath-taking panoramic views of Mount Warning to the north and the pristine coastline to the east. Float peacefully above the rolling, green hills and enjoy the unique experience of being the first to see the sun rise over the Australian mainland… from above.
Their flight package includes a picturesque, one hour sunrise flight adventure, followed by a celebratory breakfast at Three Blue Ducks, The Farm. Experience a flight unlike any other and enjoy Byron Bay from an entirely new perspective.
Whale Watching Cruise
Byron Bay is renowned for being one of the ultimate locations to observe the yearly migration of humpback whales, especially from the Cape Byron Lighthouse, with many people eagerly waiting and optimistically pointing from the most easterly point every time a wave crashes.
Instead of crowding to catch a glimpse, Out of the Blue Adventures will guide you on their incredible Whale Watching tour from Ballina’s Richmond River to the immaculate waters of Cape Byron Marine Park. You’ll even be listening to live humpback whale song through their specialised underwater hydrophone. Get up close and personal, while experiencing the astonishing humpback whales in their natural habitat.
Where can I find a Theme Park?
Being a small town we don’t have any theme parks located directly in Byron Bay, but if you head north just over the Queensland border there is an epic array of Australia’s best theme parks for all you thrill seekers! Hot tip for speedily getting onto rides: we highly recommend going on a weekday and steer clear of the public holidays.
As a theme park, water park (seasonal) and zoo, Dream World is the whole package and has something on offer for all ages. For you adrenaline lovers, Dream World is home to the tallest free-falling ride in the country, the iconic Giant Drop, dropping 39 thrilling stories at the speed of gravity, along with many other rides that are sure to get your heart racing.
Then head over to Tiger Island for an up close and personal experience with the jungle’s most fearsome predator or to the Corroboree to observe some of Australia’s most beautiful native animals… yes, that means pictures with Koala’s. Find your happily ever after with the full Dreamworks experience: “A world where fairy tales come true,” at their film inspired rides (especially good for the young ones).
Wet 'n' Wild
What could be better on a hot day, than slipping and sliding into Australia’s Biggest’n’Best Water Park? Do the words Tornado or Kamikaze spike your interest? Because they’ll definitely spike your heart rate. You’ll find both of these and more in the Extreme H20 zone for the biggest drops, fastest speeds and most twists and turns. If you want to stand over a trapdoor and enjoy a vertical, free fall drop into one of four transparent, looping slides, then this is the place to be, but if not, probably steer clear and take full stock of all the brilliant rides around the rest of the park.
Time to chill? Laze around in a comfy tube as you float through the soft, river waters of Calypso Beach, amongst sub-tropical gardens, a pirate castle and of course, a Caribbean Shanty town… Heat up in the hot tubs of Whirlpool Springs or cool down in the Giant Wave pool once you’re all “thrilled” out.
You can’t beat Australia’s number 1 theme park, with countless Warner Brothers movie inspired rides and maximum levels of thrill. The Superman ride will leave you breathless, reaching 100kms an hour in only 2 seconds… and that’s just the beginning.
If the film side interests you more, enjoy their 4D film experience, stunt shows, parades or their studio showcase – the largest Warner Brothers showcase in the Southern Hemisphere with authentic props and costumes from all your favourite hit movies… Suicide Squad anybody? Are rollercoasters not scary enough? If you’re in Byron over October, Movie World puts on a seasonal Halloween event with terrifying mazes, haunting precincts and a whole lot of spooky fun coming out after dark – it’s called Fright Night for a reason.
Other road-trip-worthy locations
As the epicentre for entertainment and tourism in the Gold Coast, it’s unsurprising that Surfers Paradise has a long-established reputation for its electric nightlife. Renowned for its beautiful, golden beaches, popular shops, cafes and high-rise enveloped skyline, after dark is when the energy of Surfers Paradise really starts buzzing. The central strip is inundated with specialty bars for social drinks and pumping nightclubs, where you can dance the night away.
Nightlife aside, the Gold Coast also offers some of the best shopping destinations in Australia. Ten minutes from Surfers Paradise, Pacific Fair Shopping Centre is home to over 400 stores boasting a mix of luxury designer labels, popular Australian retailers and iconic global brands, with a delicious array of cafes and restaurants to keep you satiated, so you can shop all day long.
Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, is a large city situated on the river, here to fulfil your culinary, cultural, entertainment and shopping needs. Packed with an array of world-class galleries, museums, exhibitions spaces, theatres, markets and worldly cuisine, there possibilities are endless. If it’s nightlife your chasing, Fortitude Valley is one of the best areas in Brisbane, full of bars, clubs, restaurants, live music venues and a wild atmosphere.
On the other hand, built along the river, you have South Bank, a burgeoning urban metropolis and the cultural and touristic hub of the city. During the day, laze on the 17 hectares of lush parklands, take full stock of their sensational shopping or peruse one of their many venues and galleries, such as, the QPAC (Queensland Performing Arts Centre) or the GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art). Once night falls it’s time to sample the incredible restaurants and roof top bars they have on offer. Last but not least, with over 50,000 seats, Suncorp Stadium will blow you away if you’re lucky enough to be up in Byron when your favourite sports team or musician is playing.
Located over an hour inland from Byron Bay is the iconic hippie capital of Australia, Nimbin. Tucked away in lush hinterland, Nimbin put itself on the map in 1973 with the Aquarius music and arts festival, that saw thousands of students, hippies and alternative types flock to the area with shared ideals of communal living, world peace, free love and drug use. Many stuck around and formed communes.
Today Nimbin’s biggest annual festival is the Mardi Grass, a colourful celebration of the town’s proud marijuana culture. If a psychedelic time travel experience back to the 1970’s sounds like your cup of herbal brew, then a trip out to Nimbin won’t disappoint. Just watch out for the over enthusiastic street vendors. For those who prefer a more wholesome experience, head over to the Channon Craft Markets to enjoy delicious food and the arts, crafts and fresh produce that is abundant to the local region.