From backpacker Main Beach to the gorgeous Wategos, a curve of sand below the Cape Byron Lighthouse, there are several magnificent beaches to choose from in Byron Bay. But take a short drive outside town and you’ll be rewarded with fine, white sand lapped by warm subtropical waters. Here are five beaches beyond Byron to visit – so dust off your togs.
Just 15 minutes by car south of Byron Bay, the small community of Broken Head has become synonymous with its most famous resident – Chris Hemsworth. But even his ripped physique can’t compete with the raw beauty of this beach, which curls towards a rocky headland that generates some of the best waves around. Opposite the beach you’ll find a grassy picnic area with barbecue facilities, and not much else.
Scooped out of the rocky coastline between Broken Head and Lennox Head lies a clutch of small, pristine beaches off the beaten trail. Accessed by Seven Mile Beach Road, a narrow dirt track that winds up behind Broken Head, Whites Beach is the last bay you reach before the long stretch of sand ending at Lennox Head, known as Seven Mile Beach. Protected from northerly winds and backed by coastal rainforest, Whites is a suitably picturesque spot to while away a few hours. Keep in mind that this is a beach you’ll want to bring your best manners to, as it’s very much a locals’ spot.
Tucked inside the southern break wall of the Brunswick River, tiny man-made Torakina Beach is almost always crystal-clear and swell-free, so it’s a great choice for families. Known as Torakina Park, the grassy bushland the beach backs onto offers picnic tables, toilets, showers and barbecues. Best of all, it’s just a short walk across the timber bridge over Simpsons Creek to the Hotel Brunswick for a beer and a chicken parmi.
Right by the northern Brunswick River break wall lies another calm, idyllic beach, and getting there is half the fun. Known as Harry Hills Beach, this tiny spot is most easily reached via kayak, with swimming across from Torakina not recommended due to the strong currents and boat traffic. If you’d rather drive, you’ll need to head north to the village of New Brighton, then south on North Head Road until the road ends. From here it’s a 400m (1,300ft) walk to the beach.
When the coast is too windy or rough, a handful of small beaches fringing the huge freshwater lake at the southern end of Lennox Head, 25 minutes’ drive south of Byron, offer the perfect sheltered spot. Stained brown by the tannins in the melaleuca trees (also known as tea trees) that surround it, the lake is perfectly safe for swimming. Used for centuries by the Indigenous Bundjalung people for medicinal purposes, the tea tree-infused water may even leave your skin feeling fresher when you get out.