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Byron Bay Beaches
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Byron's beaches are like a dream come true, which sounds like a cliché until you experience them. If Australia does one thing really well, it has to be the beaches, and Byron's are among the best in Australia. Stretching between the headlands of the northern New South Wales coast, many are sheltered from the southerlies and offer great surf breaks. Clean and undeveloped, the beaches are not overcrowded with high-rises, or in fact with buildings of any sort.
Here, where the Coral Sea to the north meets the Tasman Sea in the south, Cape Byron protrudes into the Pacific Ocean and forms the most easterly point of the Australian mainland. Dramatic views from the headland are your reward for walking to the lighthouse (you can drive, but it takes the drama out of the scenery, and it will cost you $6 to park your car). From the Cape you will see stunning views over the Bay to Mt Warning and the Border Ranges, or south over Tallow Beach to Broken Head in the distance.
It may be a surprise, but Cape Byron is not all sand and surf. If you walk up Lee Lane from the Captain Cook lookout (off Lighthouse Road) you will find yourself in littoral (coastal) rainforest, with banksias, Bangalow palms, cabbage palms and melaleuca species. Emerging from the rainforest, you'll be rewarded by a wonderful view to the south along Tallow Beach and maybe by hang-gliders taking off from the wooden platform.
A few more hundred metres and you come past the historic lighthouse cottages, to the lighthouse itself (www.lighthouse.net.au) and then down the path to the extreme easterly point. Continue down the hill to Little Wategos and Wategos beaches and back along the paths to Byron Bay. You will almost certainly see pods of bottlenose dolphins from up here, and possibly rays and sea turtles.
In the appropriate seasons, Cape Byron is one of the best vantage points for whale-watching. From the end of June to August, the huge mammals migrate northwards to calve in the warm northern waters. Then, in September and October, they return with their new babies, sometimes stopping in the Bay for some whale R&R and to teach the young ones 'breaching' and 'slapping'. Most whale sightings are of humpbacks, distinctive by their spinal shape, but it's also possible to see other species.
However, back to the beaches. Gleaming white tiny-grained sand and clear turquoise-blue water only occasionally sullied by the debris of storms are what you can expect in Byron. Sometimes after a strong northerly wind 'cornflakes' - scraps of floating seaweed - appear in the waves, turning them a greenish-brown rather than the usual aquamarine. But nearly all year round, the water and the beaches invite luxurious sunbathing and clean swimming.
Byron Shire offers over 30km of beaches, from the busy, patrolled (in summer) beaches near the town, to isolated coves, nudist and dog-friendly beaches within 10-15 minutes drive. Ranging in temperature from around 18°C in the winter to 26°C in the summer, the water is perfect for most of the year, and only slightly chilly in winter. All year round, wear a hat and high-rating sunscreen as, even in winter, the Australian sun burns.
Byron Bay Surf Breaks and Surf Forecast
Byron Bay has always been popular with surfers, check out the following breaks :
The Wreck : NE, E swell - S, SW wind - holds 1-4ft
The Pass : NE, E swell - S, SE wind - holds 1-6ft
Wategos Beach : NE, E swell - S, SE wind - holds 1-3ft
Cosy Corner : NE, E swell - NW, N, NE wind - holds 1-6ft