When you think of surf destinations, usually three places come to mind: California, Hawaii, and Australia. We’ve been all around the world with our Surf Guides, from California, Florida, New Zealand, Moorea, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Costa Rica, to New York and finally this week we are headed back to Australia with Brand Ambassador Ellen Moon! Grab your bathers (hint hint our new drop-dead-gorgeous one-piece just landed in our online shop) and let’s head to Byron Bay!
Surf Guide: Byron Bay
G’day! I’m Ellen (@artemis_eleven, or El to my friends) and I live in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, the Northern Rivers, home to the world famous Byron Bay. Originally I’m a Pom, Aussie slang for English. I grew up on the tiny island of Jersey, officially the sunniest place in Great Britain(!), which is where I discovered my love of the ocean and where I learned to surf. Although I love to surf, SUP, and wakeboard, my real passion is being in/under the water. Pretty much every Saturday and Sunday you’ll find me with my fins and mask on, underwater camera in hand, exploring the reefs and wrecks around Byron Bay.
Location: Byron Bay, Australia
Where to surf:
This right hand point break is great for beginners and longboarders, with smaller, mellow waves that you can ride right to the beach (although this means a long walk back!). Round the back of the point the waves are bigger and punchier, so there are options for shortboarders too.
Crowd Factor: The Pass is by far Byron’s busiest break so the crowds are always an issue, especially in summer and school holidays. Due to its popularity with beginners, drop-ins are common and rogue boards are always an issue, so be sure to keep your wits about you!
Right in front of the town, this is the place to surf if you want to put on a show for the patrons of Byron’s busiest pub, the Beach Hotel.
Crowd Factor: With its proximity to town, there are usually a fair number of people in the water. This beach is popular with tourists and patrolled in summer, so be sure to surf outside of the flags.
Just north of Main Beach, this break is named for the SS Wollongbar, which lost its tie to the old Byron Bay Pier and sank in a cyclone in 1922. The powerful right hander waves are consistently hollow due to the sandbank that the shipwreck creates. The currents are often strong, so depending on the size of the swell, this one might be best left to the more experienced surfers!
Crowd Factor: Popular with the locals, this is best admired from the shore unless you know what you’re doing. On a flat day though, be sure to get out there with your snorkel and mask and check out the wreck!
While not as popular as The Pass, Wategos still has decent waves for most of the year, with the added advantage of being a bit quieter. The location of some of Byron’s most exclusive homes, this beach often has a great longboarding wave off the point, but can be a bit messier in the bay.
Crowd Factor: On days that The Pass is too busy, head over to Wategos for a less stressful experience! Beware of the rip though, it travels west towards The Pass. So, if you find yourself near to the rocks on the west of the bay, don’t try to scramble out, just go with the rip and ride a wave in at The Pass.
Nested under Cape Byron at the north end of Tallow Beach, Cosy Corner offers great right and left-handers, depending on the swell direction. The bonus here is that this is often the only break that is sheltered from the dreaded northerly winds that hit us in September & October.
Crowd Factor: Crowds aren’t usually a problem at Cosy Corner, except when the northerly winds blow as it is often Byron’s only protected spot! Beware of the current that sometimes flows near to the rocks, it can take an inexperienced surfer out to sea pretty quickly.
Water temperature: The water ranges from a balmy 28⁰C/82⁰F in summer (February/March) to a slightly nippier 21.5⁰C/71⁰F in winter (July/August). We have a very pleasant climate, so you shouldn’t need more than a spring suit in winter and your MI OLA bikini (or board shorts) in Summer. Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen though – the ozone layer is pretty thin over Australia.
When to surf: Byron Bay has something to offer all year round! However, the northerly winds come through in spring (September-October) and pretty much destroy any decent surfing waves (sometimes with the exception of Cosy Corner, which is a bit more sheltered). Every cloud has a silver lining though; Springtime in Byron Bay is perfect for kite surfing and wind surfing!
Other activities: Byron Bay is situated within the Cape Byron Marine Park, so we benefit from pristine waters with an abundance of marine life. There is great scuba diving at Julian Rocks (depending on the time of year you can see manta rays, grey nurse sharks, wobbegongs (type of shark), turtles, as well as an array of fish, corals and sponges) and even just snorkelling off the beach you can expect to see turtles, wobbegongs and stingrays. On flat days, Byron Bay is ideal for paddleboarding or kayaking, and daily tours run from Clarke’s Beach. A trip to Byron Bay wouldn’t be complete without completing the lighthouse walk along the coast and up to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse, on the easterly-most point of mainland Australia. Byron Bay is famous for its hippie vibe, so be sure to check out the local artisan markets too. Not far from the town are some great waterfalls and swimming holes, my favourite has to be Killen Falls. You can swim right underneath!
How to get there/where to stay: Byron Bay is about half way up the east coast of Australia. It’s just off the Pacific Highway, so easy access from any of the cities on Australia’s east coast (2 hours drive from Brisbane, 9 hours drive from Sydney). If you’re flying in, Byron Bay is close to three major airports – Ballina/Byron (for domestic travellers), Gold Coast (for domestic and Asia/Oceania international flights) and Brisbane (for global international flights). Being a major tourist destination, there are plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from campsites to 5 star hotels and apartments
Apres Surf: Byron is popular with backpackers, and if this is your crowd, the best place to hang out and grab a beer and a burger is the Beach Hotel before partying the night away at Cheeky Monkeys. For those of us whose clubbing days are behind us, Byron has a great selection of restaurants that also do a mean cocktail – try The Balcony or The Treehouse. For those of you that prefer a craft beer, be sure to try out the local tipple (alcoholic drink), Stone & Wood Pacific Ale, at The Railways Bar (affectionately known as The Rails) or head to the beer garden at the Byron Bay Brewing Co. and enjoy the live music.