Must Do Byron Bay on a Budget | Travel Guide

Last updated on 6 May, 2020

Much loved Byron Bay or “Byron” is a must do destination on many travellers itineraries. Discovering and exploring Byron with its luxury and bohemian accommodation, restaurants, shops and salons has the potential to be expensive but we are here to tell you how Byron Bay on a budget can be done. We will show you how you can enjoy the best of Byron Bay must do attractions for less money than you might think. 

Located on the far north coast of New South Wales 800 kilometres north of Sydney and 165 kilometres south of Brisbane, Byron Bay Australia’s most easterly town. It is part of country traditional owned by Bundjalung Arakwal people. Byron’s location means that any visit or holiday is likely to be hot or warm although school holidays and when events such as the Blues Festival are on, prior planning and booking accommodation would be required. 

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Wategos Beach

Famous for its stunning beaches, lush rainforest and a vibrant community of locals and visitors as well as its speciality shops, pubs, eateries and regular events, it is easy to see why so many people love Byron and why it attracts so many visitors each year. 

With many great free things to do in Byron Bay as well as using some budget friendly travel ideas, this is a popular tourist destination that can be enjoyed and experienced even by those of you on a meager travel or holiday budget. 

As always with our articles dog friendly attractions have the 🐾.

Top Tips for Seeing Byron Bay for Less Money

Visit Outside of School Holidays and Major Events

There really isn’t a bad time to visit Byron Bay. We were there the June and the weather was sunny and warm. It wasn’t quite hot enough for us to swim but plenty of other people were, having a wonderful time. The weather was perfect for walking and exploring the area.

Visiting outside the Christmas summer holiday and Easter holiday as well as other school holidays and avoiding events such as the Blues Festival will save you a fair bit of money on accommodation and camping costs. Prices for a campsite during these times are up around $100 per night, more for motel type accommodation and you have to put up with a lot of people everywhere you go. In the low and shoulder periods campsites are more affordable at nearer to $40 – $50 per night. 

There is no free camping or low-cost camping such as a showground in or close to Byron Bay. Council rangers are fairly consistent at fining those who camp illegally and know where the popular spots are. 

Shop at Supermarkets and Enjoy Picnics 

Byron Bay has lots of great restaurants, cafes and bars to eat and drink at. Maybe you would like to do this on occasion but doing it every meal will deplete your funds very quickly. There are lots of BBQs and picnic tables around the local area where you could eat your lunch and other meals. There are supermarkets including Aldi and Woolworths locally to buy the food supplies you need. 

Plan and Limit Your Stay 

People visit Byron for one day and others stay for months. With a limited budget it is possible with some planning to visit for a day and see Byron Bay’s must see attractions or stay a few days and enjoy more time at the beautiful beaches and seeing a bit of the surrounding area. 

Our recommendation if you can afford is to budget to stay for 1-3 nights in the low or shoulder periods using your funds to pay for a campsite, some fuel and food.

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Byron Bay Hinterland

Walk and Take Advantage of Free Parking

Byron Bay has a lot of metered parking and a limited the amount of parking in the popular tourist spots which often means you can end up spending time waiting for or driving around trying to get a spot. If you are willing to do a bit of extra walking (1 – 2 kilometres) there are free 4 hour and all day parking in town. The other benefit is these spots are often easier to get so may save you time.

Metered parking costs $4 per car per hour or $8 to park at the Cape Byron Lighthouse (if you can get a spot) which is technically the park entry fee. If you have a National Parks Pass, parking at the lighthouse is free. It is important to know that all parking is cash only and you will need to have the exact amount.

Also for those travelling in a caravan it is strongly advised that you do not tow your caravan around the Cape Byron area as the roads are narrow and it is highly doubtful you will get parking. Instead stick to the centre of town or unhitch your caravan if you are visiting for the day and do not have a campsite booked, and leave it parked in town for the day.

Do the Free Must Do Things in Byron Bay

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Little Wategos Beach and Walking Trail

Cape Byron Walking Track

Cape Byron Walking track is a 3.7km circuit beautiful coastal walk in the Cape Byron State Conservation Area. The track makes its way through rainforest, past beaches, to lookouts and the Cape Byron Lighthouse taking about 2 hour with brief stops. It is suitable for all ages, there is some sections with steep steps and hills and there are no push bikes.

Along the walk you may fortunate to see whales from June to November each year or other sea creatures such as turtles, sharks, dolphins and sting rays are routinely seen. The trail will take you a number of Byron’s best spots and most famous attractions written about below.

We recommend taking your time and making a day of doing the Cape Byron Walking Track enjoying the sights as well as taking a swim or picnic. Consider taking with you swimmers, hat, sunscreen, camera, insect repellant, food, water, thongs/sensible shoes, binoculars (for whale watching) and snorkel.

Further we recommend making use of the 4 hour free parking on Massinger Street, walk the 1 kilometre to the start of the track.

Captain Cook Lookout 

Captain Cook Lookout is the first thing to do along the Cape Byron Walking Track. It has historical significance and is a great place for whale watching and views of the ocean. 

Clarke’s Beach

Clarke’s Beach is one of Byron’s beaches and this one is has rock and tidal pools to explore and is good for snorkelling along the rocks close to shore. This is an unpatrolled beach.

This is one spot along the walking track that you may like to stop, have a swim or a snorkel before continuing to the next spot on the track.

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The Pass and Fisherman’s Lookout
The Pass and Fisherman’s Lookout

The Pass is another beach along the walking trail. The 800 metre long beach with its white sand, shallow water and long running waves is a popular spot for families be and those learning to surf.

There are BBQs and picnic tables close by making this a great spot to perhaps stop for lunch on your walk. 

The Fisherman’s Lookout has some of Byron’s best views overlooking The Pass from its wooden viewing platform. It is a terrific spot to look out for whales so don’t forget your binoculars.

Wategos Beach

Wategos Beach is a small protected beach in cove along the Cape Byron Headland. It’s water is blue,c and usually calm with smaller waves great for swimming, kayaking or SUP. This beach is not patrolled.

Little Wategos Beach and Walking Track

Little Wategos as the name suggests is the smallest beach along the track. It is also the most secluded at the end of the cape. It is also Australia’s eastern most beach.

To reach the beach there is walking track. Little Wategos is a popular rock fishing spot. 

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Views along Cape Byron Walking Track
Australia’s Most Easterly Mainland Point

This is as far east you can be on mainland Australia. The viewing platform reached by climbing some steep stairs to climb and hills is totally worth it for the views of the ocean especially at sunrise. It is majestic with the rainforest behind you and the ocean expanding out before you. 

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Cape Byron Lighthouse
Cape Byron Lighthouse, Museum and Tour

Cape Byron Lighthouse is Australia’s most easterly structure. In operation since 1901, the 22 metre high white tower sits on Cape Byron Headland 94 metres above sea level and overlooking Cape Byron Marine Park.

The best times to visit the lighthouse is sunrise or sunset when the colours of the sky and ocean is the most spectacular. If you cannot get there then it is a great place to visit throughout the day and enjoy the panoramic views.

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Lighthouse Keepers Cottages

The Maritime Museum inside the lighthouse has much to see and is free. The museum is open from 10am – 4pm.

There are also tours of the lighthouse run by volunteers go for 20 minutes and take you up to the deck at the top of lighthouse tower. Tours limited to 10 people per group are also free (donations are welcome) and run between 10am – 3pm daily.

Parking at the lighthouse is very limited and costs $8 for which you need to have the correct change (cash). Park Rangers are on duty while the park gates are open which is 8am to sunset.

Visit Bryon Bay’s Other Beaches

Main Beach and Foreshore 🐾

Main Beach is in the centre of tow, is easily accessible and very busy. Also with the grass foreshore overlooking the beach a regular spot for live music and buskers, Main Beach is a terrific place to chill. This is a patrolled beach.

Foreshore is dog friendly. Main Beach is not.

Parking: Closest all day free parking in on Butler St

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Sunset on Belongil Beach
Belongil Beach 🐾

Belongil Beach at the north end of Main Beach is a brilliant dog friendly beach with an off leash exercise area your dog will love and so will you. This beach is gorgeous, great for swimming and for a long beach stroll. It is less crowded than Main Beach too.

The northern end of Belongil Beach is clothing optional.

Parking: Closest all day free parking in on Butler St

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Tallow Beach
Tallow Beach 🐾

Tallow’s is 6.5 kilometres of wide, expansive stunning beach. There are often very few people and with a beach this long it doesn’t take much to find a secluded spot.

Part of Tallow Beach between Jarman Street and Awakral National Park is dog friendly. It is a brilliant beach for letting your dog have a run.

Parking: There is free parking on First Avenue, Suffolk Park near the entry to dog friendly section of the beach.

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The Farm at Byron Bay

More Free Things to Do in Byron Bay

The Farm at Byron Bay

The Farm was one of the absolute highlights for us in Byron Bay. They have Highland Cows!! It is a small working farm that prides its self on sustainable farming practices and allows visitors to come see what they do and explore the farm. There is free self guided farm tour along an easy 1.5 kilometre walking track. On the tour you can see various crops as well as animals including the Highland Coos, pigs, chickens, horses and bee hives. There is also a macadamia plantation where you can collect fresh nuts and crack them to eat (at no cost).

At the farm there is also a playground for children as well as a restaurant if you wish to buy a coffee or meal and a plant shop.

There is an ample amount of parking and it is a great place to spend a couple of hours. It is not necessary to spend money, you can just do the free self guided farm tour if you wish. Don’t forget to take your camera.

Location: 11 Ewingsdale Road, Ewingsdale

Parking: Free

Byron Bay Markets 🐾

Byron Bay Markets are as much a part of Byron as its beaches, lighthouse and shops. The markets have an awesome atmosphere and sell everything from fresh produce to hand made goods.

Byron Community Markets are held 1st Sunday of the month at Butler St Reserve 8am – 3pm.

Byron Beachside Market is held four times a year at Main Beach Foreshore 8am – 4pm.

Byron Twilight Markets are held every Saturday night from October to April at Railway Park 4pm – 9pm.

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Killen Falls
Killen Falls Public Reserve & Emigrant Creek Dam 🐾

Killen Falls are a short drive out of the centre of town into the foothills of the hinterland. There free parking at the start of the walking track to the falls and the dam. The walk to the falls takes about 15 – 20 minutes each way with some sections being steep, slippery and potentially muddy. Holding to branches that hang over the track helps with keeping you steady and on your feet as you descend down the track. There are also rocks along the creek to walk over so wear sensible shoes. We did see plenty of people managing to do it with bare feet so – do it your way.

The falls are great and the best thing about them is that you can get right in behind the falls which is a great experience. There is also a swimming hole at the base of the falls to enjoy when the weather is warm enough.

The Emigrant Creek Dam is a very short walk along a sealed path. We did it because it was at the same place as the waterfall. Honestly, I wasn’t overly fussed with the dam but if you are there for the 10 minutes it takes you should have a look.

Location: Killen Falls Dr, Tintenbar

Parking: Free 

Tyagarah Nature Reserve

A 7km section of protected coastline between Brunswick Heads and Byron Bay this is a bit of paradise away from the centre of Byron. The highlights of the reserve are the Tyagarah Tea Tree Ponds (or lakes), the stunning Tyagarah Beach and walking trails.

The ponds are freshwater that overtime have become coloured and infused with the oils from the surrounding tea tree shrubs. Some people believe the tea tree has healing properties regardless is a lovely place to visit and swim.

Tyagarah Beach is a designation naturalist beach where clothing is optional. It is also a spectacular beach with breathtaking scenery and is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, fishing and just hanging out.

The reserve has a series of walking trails to enjoy. We recommend wearing suitable clothing and footwear even you plan on spending time before or after on the beach or in the ponds. The reserve also has picnic tables for your use.

Access to the reserve is along 2 km of dirt road suitable for any vehicle just take your time. Strictly speaking visiting the reserve will cost you $8 if you take your car but it is also difficult to get to unless you are a keen bike rider without a car. Actually visiting the reserve is free.

Location: Greys Lane, Tyagarah

Parking: At the reserve $8 per vehicle for all day parking. Need to have the correct change. 

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Kayak Belongil Creek
Kayak or SUP on Belongil Creek 🐾

If like us you travel with your own kayak, SUP or similar head over to Belongil Creek for a paddle. The creek is easily accessed along its bank (see address below) and is an easy paddle with the creek passing by Cumbebin Swamp and mangroves. You may even get to see glimpses of kingfishers.

The north end of the creek is a marine sanctuary, clearly sign posted and dogs are prohibited. Otherwise the rest of the creek is dog friendly. 

Location: Childe Street, Byron Bay

Parking: Free residential street parking

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9 thoughts on “Must Do Byron Bay on a Budget | Travel Guide”

  1. I would love to take Cape Byron Walking Track. I love lighthouses, especially ones that you can go inside. Are all lighthouses in NSW white? I have never seen a bright white one in the US>

    • The Cape Byron trail is one of my favourite walks in Australia. You should definitely do it if you ever get the chance.

      Many of Australia’s lighthouses are white, it is our preferred lighthouse colour but not all are white. There’s one in a place called Carpenter Rocks that is bright Orange just for something different 🙂

  2. Beautiful! the wildlife and natural areas and beaches in Byron Bay are gorgeous and are certainly giving me some wanderlust right now. I would love to wander along the ocean or visit one of the farms in this post.

    • It is such a beautiful place. We thought it’d be really touristy which some bits are but if you get out the beaches and the natural attractions it is wonderful.

  3. This looks like such a beautiful place! I would definitely like to visit the Byron Farm – highland cows are my favorite!! I first saw them in Scotland, and now I’m obsessed. Wouldn’t expect to find them in Australia!

    • Highland coos (and elephants) are my favourite too. They’re so adorable. Definitely go to the Farm to see them.

  4. Byron Bay looks like it is everything I love about Australia all in one place, especially those beautiful beaches! It’s good to know that visiting outside of major holidays can help make the trip more budget-friendly. I’m tentatively planning to go back to Australia in 2021 if I can, and was thinking of doing Sydney, Brisbane, or both, so this is a really helpful post! I’ll keep Byron Bay in mind for sure!

    • I hope too travel around the world is happening in 2021. Byron is a great stop on a road trip between Sydney and Brisbane or as a trip from Brisbane.

  5. I’ve never heard of Byron Bay and this is a great guide to experiencing it on a budget. I always tour lighthouses, so that would be high on my list. The beaches you shared sure look lovely and very strollable. I appreciate that you’ve noted the places that have free parking. Kind of surprised that in this day and age you need to have correct change for the metered parking. I hardly carry cash, so it’s a good reminder to plan to have some change on hand!


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