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When you visit Byron Bay – and you MUST visit Byron Bay – one of our top recommendations for things to do is an early-morning walk to the Byron Bay Lighthouse.
In case you didn’t know, Byron Bay is that legendary beach town just 90km South of the Gold Coast.
It’s a popular spot on the Sydney to Brisbane road trip, and is well known for its surfing community and incredible beaches.
It’s that place on the NSW north coast that attracts thousands every year, and many never leave.
Because it’s so popular with not only international tourists but local tourists, too, it can get quite crowded. Which is why a nice coastal walk to the lighthouse is the perfect activity. It allows you to escape the beach crowds for a while and enjoy the peaceful nature that surrounds the city.
But if you’re not sure how to do the Cape Byron Bay Lighthouse walk, or what to expect doing the coastal walk with kids, keep reading to find out about our experience doing this hike.
Disclaimer: We visited Byron Bay as part of partnership with Destination NSW, but all the thoughts, ideas and opinions in this guide are our own.
About the Cape Byron Bay Lighthouse Walk
The lighthouse is situated on Cape Byron, an area so naturally beautiful it’s begging you to explore on foot. The Cape Byron walking track is for sure the best way to take it all in.
Sure you can drive to the top, but you’ll be missing out on the spectacular views of the hinterland, surrounding beaches, sea cliffs, wildlife, and rainforest.
If you are visiting during whale season (June to November) you might be able to spot some humpback whales breaching in the distance. Keep an eye on the shores where it’s possible to see turtles and stingrays in their natural habitat.
We love a coastal walk, especially one we can do with our kids while visiting Byron Bay, so the minute we woke up to a clear blue sky we packed our day pack with water and snacks, slipped on our hiking sandals, and headed for the Cape.
- Distance: 3.7km in total
- Time to complete: at least 2 hours. Allow a couple of hours extra for enjoying the beaches
- Trail type: Loop trail
- Trailhead: The Beach Hotel on Bay Street
- Shaded or open: The path is a mixture of shaded and open, so bring a sunhat and sun cream with you. The path is passes through rainforest where you are protected by the shade of bangalow palms and ancient burrawangs, as well as across open clifftops and open Kangaroo grasslands.
Facilities on the Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk
If you need to plan toilet breaks, you will find toilet and bathroom facilities at Wategos Beach and at Cape Bryon Lighthouse.
Map of the Coastal Walk to Byron Bay Lighthouse
To help you navigate this walk, here is a map of the route and some notable stops along the way.
How To Walk The Coastal Walk to Byron Bay Lighthouse
We started our walk just in front of Byron’s famous pub, the Beach Hotel on Bay Street.
You simply follow the path parallel to the beach until it becomes Lighthouse Road and you’ll come to a boardwalk pictured below with this brilliant view back over Main Beach from the clifftops.
Continue on the main path from here, or, if you want to stop off at some beaches en route, we suggest taking a little detour down the access path to the beach.
Walk up the steps at the very end of the beach to Fishermans Lookout, which sits on top of the cliff tops.
From here you can watch the early morning surfers carving up the waves at one of Australia’s most famous surf break, The Pass.
Once you’ve enjoyed the views from Fishermans Lookout, head back to the main path you were on before.
Once you’re back on the main path you’ll head up the headland with incredible sea cliff views back over The Pass and Byron Bay.
If you need refueling, there is a great cafe behind the beach on Brooke Drive, called The Pass Cafe, which is a great place to get a quick snack and a coffee.
Take you time along this route, as you will be met with incredible delights of the ocean, where you can see pretty much the state’s entire coast.
After taking in the natural beauty and the views of the ocean, follow the path down to one of our favourite beaches in Byron Bay, if not all of Australia, Wategos Beach.
Take a break at Wategos and appreciate the beauty.
On a calm day when the water is crystal clear, the waves are cleanly breaking out the back, and the sun is beating down, Wategos is just a magic beach.
We let our kids climb on the rocks whilst we dreamt of that million dollar property across the road.
Leaving Wategos you begin the final ascent up to Cape Byron and the Byron Bay Lighthouse. As you climb the track you get an incredible view back over Wategos Beach.
Alternatively, you can take a short detour along Little Wategos Track towards Cape Byron Lookout and walk down onto Little Wategos Beach, if you want to extend the walk.
If you time your visit right, Cape Byron Headland is a great spot for watching humpback whales on their annual migration. But typically is a good spot to see dolphins, turtles and surfers.
Otherwise, keep going.
There are a few steps in this last section and little Savannah got a bit tired so up on Mummy’s shoulders she went as we played the “lets count the number of steps” game.
Just before you reach the lighthouse, you will pass by the most easterly point of Australia’s mainland, the Australian Headland, and of course you have to stop for the obligatory photo.
Once you get to this point, you’re almost there. The base of the lighthouse is just one more flight of stairs, and the reward at the top is worth it.
Byron Bay Lighthouse has become an icon for Byron Bay. Built from prefabricated concrete blocks it was finished in 1901 and for a century it alerted passing ships to the dangers of the coast.
It’s the most easterly lighthouse in Australia, and one of the most powerful.
The lighthouse attracts more than 500,000 visitors per year and the site includes the head lighthouse keeper’s residence, and two assistant keeper’s cottages which are available for overnight rental.
Once you get to the top spend some time appreciating the beauty all around you and step inside the lighthouse to learn about its history and significance from the Maritime Museum inside the former lighthouse keeper’s office.
The Lighthouse Cafe serves up yummy cakes, brownies and muffins, or maybe your kids will fancy an ice cream. Just make sure you have cash on you as they don’t take cards.
And there’s no ATM. We learnt this the hard way on a previous visit.
And this is your coffee view back over Byron Bay. Nice huh!
To head back to town, you can either retrace your steps or we suggest walking down Lighthouse Road (where the cars drive up) and you’ll pass Tallow Beach to the south, another popular surfing spot in the region and the view is incredible.
Keep walking down and enter the bush along a walking track called the Tallow Beach Track.
Follow this track through the rainforest and you will emerge on Lee Lane which then re-connects you with Lighthouse Road at the bottom.
Where To Stay in Byron Bay
Booking.com has over 150 properties in Byron Bay from hotels, resorts, apartments and hostels. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.
Here are a couple of hotels to look at:
- Victoria at Wategos offers accommodation with views over the garden, outdoor pool or Cape Byron Lighthouse. Providing surfing amenities, it is just 350 feet from Watego Beach in Byron Bay. Check prices and availability here.
- Beach Hotel Resort Just 150 feet from Byron Bay’s Main Beach and surrounded by lush tropical gardens, this resort offers free WiFi, a luxurious swimming pool and a hot tub. Check prices and availability here
- Raes on Wategos is one of the most famous accommodation options in Bryon Bay and Australia. Voted one of the world’s top 25 hotels by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine, Raes offers a blissful and unforgettable Byron Bay experience. Read More reviews here.
Before You Go
So there you have it, this is how to do the Cape Byron Lighthouse walk, and as you can see it’s a beautiful hike with so much natural scenery and picturesque beaches to explore.
If you want an easier walk, you can simply do this walk in stages and spend more time at the beaches.
There are numerous points along the way where you can stop for breaks and a rest, including some benches where you can unpack a picnic and take in the great views.
If you want to do one of the shorter sections, we recommend doing the section between Wategos Beach and the Lighthouse, assuming you don’t mind a few steps!
If you’re not up for the walk, the easy option is to simply drive up.
Hot Tip: If you’re planning to drive up to the lighthouse at sunset, park in the first car park before you go through the gates, as they kick the cars out of the main car park right on sunset.
But if you’re willing and able, give the coastal walk a go. Breathe in the fresh coastal air, hear the crashing of the waves, and walk amongst the coastal forests.
More NSW Travel Tips
Planning on visiting other places in New South Wales? Then you may like these other resources…
- The ultimate guide to Sydney
- Best things to do in Coffs Harbour
- 2 weeks in South Coast NSW
- 12 Reasons to Visit Byron Bay with Kids
- 11 Exciting Things To Do In Kingscliff, NSW
- Guide To Visiting Yamba NSW: Is this Australia’s best kept secret?
- North Coast NSW Road Trip – Lennox Head to Gold Coast
- Caravan Parks in South West Rocks NSW