If you love the laidback lifestyle of Byron Bay, here are 21 alternative places that offer beautiful beaches, great surf spots, organic cuisines, and adventure perfect for nature lovers.
The Byron Bay region on New South Whale’s North Coast is a treasure cove of natural delights, from World Heritage forests to idyllic beaches. Byron Bay is a hub of surf culture, organic cuisine, and adventure.
Visiting Byron Bay is an absolute must for nature lovers. This cozy coastal town boasts kayaking, snorkeling, and diving to get a closer look at resident humpback whales and dolphins. Companies like Cape Byron Kayaks and Go Sea Kayak Byron Bay offer unforgettable tours during whale season.
Nature reserves such as Nightcap National Park, part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, and World Heritage-listed Wollumbin National Park invite you to explore ancient forests, magical creeks, and breathtaking views.
Take a hot-air balloon flight with Byron Bay Ballooning to get a birds-eye perspective of the mountains, rainforest, and shoreline. Skydive Byron Bay offers thrill-seekers the opportunity to jump from an aircraft. However, if heights are not part of your repertoire, you can enjoy hang-gliders riding thermals over the Cape Byron Lighthouse while you admire the spectacular ocean view.
Rich soils and sustainable farming practices supply local restaurants, cafes, and markets with an array of fresh produce. Brunswick Heads, Bangalow, and Mullumbimby are communities that combine the casual ambiance of seaside getaways with a dash of city sophistication.
For a change of scenery, you should explore the nearby town of Ballina, which sits at the mouth of the Richmond River and is a short 30-minute drive from Byron Bay. Surf enthusiasts are encouraged to visit the world-famous surf break Lennox Point at Lennox Head, a beachside hamlet between Ballina and Byron Bay.
Byron Bay offers accommodation for every kind of traveler, ranging from beautiful hotels and resorts to hostels and camping areas. Airlines offer flights from Sydney to Ballina. However, touring the legendary Pacific Coast tourism route by bus is by far the more adventurous option.
Table of Contents
- Mission Beach, Queensland
- Broome, Western Australia
- Merimbula, New South Wales
- Torquay and the Surf Coast, New South Wales
- Port Stephens, New South Wales
- Noosa, Queensland
- Yamba, New South Wales
- Nimbin, New South Wales
- Lennox Head, New South Wales
- Daylesford, VIC
- Bellingen, New South Wales
- Mullumbimby, New South Wales
- Exmouth, Western Australia
- Kenilworth, Queensland
- Eumundi, Queensland
- Port Douglas, Queensland
- Port Willunga, South Australia
- Jurien Bay, Western Australia
- Margaret River, Western Australia
- Kuranda, Queensland
- Railay Beach, Thailand
Mission Beach, Queensland
Mission Beach is a stretch of coast in Queensland, Australia, including four villages: Bingil Bay, Mission Beach, Wingaling Beach, and South Mission Beach. Like Byron Bay, this area is a tropical utopia that offers white water rafting, skydiving, and the Great Barrier Reef tours.
Mission Beach is, however, a far quieter vacation spot than Byron Bay. Bingil Bay offers breathtaking and secluded beaches where visitors can enjoy a dip in the warm water. If you’re traveling as a family, you may opt for North and South Mission Beach since lifeguards and stinger resistance enclosures protect you during your swims.
If the picturesque forests drew you to Byron Bay, you would thoroughly enjoy the Kennedy Walking Trail that begins at South Mission Beach. The walk is roughly four kilometers long each way and leads you along the beaches and through the rainforest’s margins. You’ll see spectacular ferns, animals, rocky headlands, and vistas of the islands.
Broome, Western Australia
Both Broome and Byron Bay are seashore bliss; however, Broome has a unique multicultural atmosphere due to its rich history of immigration from Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Japan, and Europe. Red soil meets the shoreline, pearl boutiques meet casual breweries, and activities vary from world-class diving to leisurely camel rides.
Like Byron Bay, Broome has breathtaking wilderness that attracts nature-lovers. The Broome Bird Observatory is a must-see for bird enthusiasts. The observatory is dedicated to migrating shorebird activity along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, with the birds arriving between August and October following a nonstop 10,000-kilometer flight.
Discover the dinosaur footprints, which are thought to be up to 130 million years old, near Gantheaume Point, at Broome’s iconic Cable Beach. These footprints are visible at low tide; but, if you visit during high tide, you may miss them. Luckily, there are plaster casts of the original prints embedded into the rocks at the top of the cliff.
Merimbula, New South Wales
Merimbula is a charming seaside hamlet on the Sapphire Coast with craggy surf beaches and calm coastal lakes. Water sports, whale watching, aquariums and sanctuaries, and sampling the best local seafood are just a few of the reasons to visit Merimbula.
The Merimbula Main Beach is popular with surfers; when the swell is good, the sandbank at the northern end of Main Beach produces a decent break. Short Point offers regular surf and vistas worth a million dollars. Bar Beach is perfect for snorkeling, while Spencer Park Beach and playground are ideal for families.
Charge your fitness tracker because there are several walking pathways in and around Merimbula. The Merimbula Boardwalk along the lakefront is well-signposted with information about the local marine life. Along the 1.2km Goodenia Rainforest Walking Track, keep an eye out for lyrebirds. Bournda National Park and the glistening Wallagoot Lake are just to the north.
Torquay and the Surf Coast, New South Wales
Like Byron Bay, Torquay is one of Australia’s most iconic surf towns. However, it is known for far more than its excellent swell and white sand beaches. Torquay is bustling with culture and cuisine; hip art scenes, trendy restaurants and cafes, laid-back breweries, and music festivals are just a few of the reasons why Torquay belongs at the top of your bucket list.
Torquay’s Bells Beach is notorious for its natural beauty and impressive swell. On most days, local and international surfers may be found ripping up the exposed reef and point break. However, if you are not a surfer, you can sit back and enjoy the spectacle from atop the bluffs or sunbathe on the beach.
For a break from the seashore fun, you could take a trip to visit Bellbrae Estate. Here you may find one-of-a-kind wines made in Torquay, Victoria. The winery’s goal is to combine the area’s distinct surf culture with classic French winemaking processes. Indulge in a bottle of wine and a delicious cheese plate while surrounded by the lush vineyard.
Port Stephens, New South Wales
Byron Bay and Port Stephens share a reputation of being beautiful coastal towns that offer tourists gorgeous beaches, spectacular dunes, coastal hikes, national parks, clean waterways, a laid-back lifestyle, and a variety of accommodation.
Port Stephens is blessed with 26 beautiful beaches where you can swim, snorkel, and kayak. If you are fortunate enough to visit Port Stephens during May and November, you will be able to take a guided cruise to see the humpback whales during their annual migration. However, the friendly resident bottlenose dolphins can be spotted all year round.
Cafés and eateries in Nelson Bay and Tea Gardens serve freshly caught fish and beachfront meals. Beer enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to Murray’s Artisan Brewing Co., where they can sample craft brews such as Whale Ale and Wild Thing.
Noosa, arguably the gem of the Sunshine Coast, is surrounded by beautiful beaches, lakes, and the magnificent Noosa National Park. Noosa is a paradise for those seeking thrilling adventures in the great outdoors. Learn to surf, try stand-up paddleboarding at Laguna Bay, kayak in the Noosa Everglades, go on a sunset cruise, or swim with humpback whales.
Noosa caters to visitors who are interested in a touch of luxury. Spoil yourself with pampers at the outstanding day spas, shop the trendiest styles at Hastings Street and Peregian Beach, and perfect your handicap at Noosa Springs Golf Resort.
Whether you’re dining on the beach or overlooking the river, tasting beers, or relaxing at a friendly rural café, the Noosa dining scene has something for everyone. There are quiet cafés, modern eateries, tables by and on the water, artisan breweries and distilleries, restaurants for the kids, drinks to dazzle, farm-to-fork experiences, and incredible gourmet events.
Yamba, New South Wales
Yamba is a fantasy coastal getaway located at the mouth of the Clarence River on NSW’s North Coast. The town’s beaches offer world-class surf breaks and marine parks teeming with dolphins, sea turtles, and whales. National parks and wilderness reserves surround the idyllic coastline.
If you are keen on angling, you can catch a variety of fish from the beach, the estuary, or the rocks. Alternatively, Reel Time Fishing Charters and Yamba Fishing and Charters offer trips out into the Pacific, where you can cast a line surrounded by stunning blue water. Be sure to visit one of the many bait and tackle shops for information on where the fish are biting.
While Yamba is famous for its beaches and surf, the surrounding countryside is as enticing for its natural forest and all the outdoor experiences that come with them. Clamber to the Yamba Lighthouse, then continue south on the 65km Yuraygir coastal trek to Red Rock, following historic emu tracks in Yuraygir National Park.
Nimbin, New South Wales
Although Nimbin does not boast the seashore getaway that Byron Bay does, you will find that the two vacation spots share a very laid-back atmosphere. Nimbin is one of the world’s most renowned hippy havens found in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, in a lush valley on the edge of an ancient, extinct volcano.
Nimbin is a vibrant alternative lifestyle center that is as enthralling as the old UNESCO World Heritage rainforest that surrounds it. For a break from the city, explore the national parks of Nightcap, Wollumbin, and Border Ranges, which are all part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.
Nimbin is a colorful cultural hub. Browse the beautiful works of local artists and artisans at Nimbin Artists Gallery and Nimbin Craft Gallery, from paintings and fashion to ceramics and jewelry. Nimbin is famous for its festivals, markets, and shows – The Nimbin Poetry World Cup, The Nimbin Roots Festival, and Nimbin MardiGrass Festival are popular amongst tourists and locals.
Lennox Head, New South Wales
Lennox Head, located on the North Coast of New South Wales and a mere 15-minutes’ drive from Byron Bay, is a lovely beach hamlet for a laid-back holiday. Peruse the main street full of boutiques, cafés, restaurants, a post office, and a large strip of park facing the beach opposite, ideal for resting in the shade of the pandanus palms and eating fish and chips.
Lennox Head is a National Surfing Reserve in Australia. The waves at Boulder Beach are perfect for both seasoned surfers and beginners. From Lennox Point’s Pat Morton Lookout, you can watch surfers slice up the waves, or you can see all the action during the Skullcandy Oz Grom Open in July and the Lennox Longboard Classic in August.
Lake Ainsworth is still highly popular, with great picnic facilities and boat rentals available, as well as being fantastic for sailing. The waters are said to have healing properties, and the location serves as the backdrop for the Lennox Head Markets, which sell anything from handicrafts to tropical fruit and vegetables.
Daylesford offers as much natural beauty as Byron Bay; however, it is an idyllic inland holiday. Invigorate your body and mind at Daylesford and the surrounding region’s natural mineral springs and medieval settlements. Take in the fresh country air amid rolling eucalyptus hills and sheep and cow paddocks.
In small rural villages, indulge in spas and wellness retreats, savor wonderful cuisine and wine in country pubs and gourmet restaurants, visit heritage gardens, buy vegetables from farm gates, and shop boutiques and art galleries.
Plan your visit around one of the town’s numerous communal festivities. Daylesford, a provincial gay community paradise, comes alive each March for the annual Chill Out Festival, Australia’s largest country queer pride celebration.
Bellingen, New South Wales
While Byron Bay offers scenic coastline, Bellingen invites you to enjoy a similarly relaxing stay on the picturesque Bellinger River. It is an ideal location for seeing spectacular heritage and natural sights while on vacation. Kayaking and canoeing are popular on the peaceful river, and beautiful drives take you through the World Heritage-listed jungle and stunning waterfalls.
Plan your trip to Bellingen around one of the many cultural events. The Bellingen Fine Music Festival, held in September, is a classical music event. In July, the diverse Bello Winter Music Festival takes place. Book enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the annual Bellingen Readers & Writers Festival will be held in June.
Bellingen has a thriving community of farmers and craftsmen that celebrates its creativity with a lively market and festivals. The Bellingen Farmers & Produce Market is hosted every week at the Bellingen Showgrounds, while the Bellingen Community Markets are held on the third Saturday of each month.
Mullumbimby, New South Wales
Mullumbimby is a picturesque village on the Brunswick River at the foot of Mount Chincogan. This counter-culture hotspot, affectionately known as ‘Mullum’ by locals, is a quick 24-minute drive north of Byron Bay.
Mullumbimby is so near to nature that you may go bushwalking right in town. You may also explore the Brunswick Valley Heritage Park, a botanical oasis for hundreds of rare rainforest plant species. Take the history park’s route to the Brunswick River for a picnic.
The yearly Mullum Music Festival is a major draw. It draws some of the country’s most underappreciated musical performers in what youth radio station Triple J describes as the “cutest and most distinctive event in Australia.” The event is becoming more famous with each passing year, yet it still seems like a local secret.
Exmouth, Western Australia
Exmouth, located at the northern entrance to the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area, is a paradise for nature lovers. Explore the majestic landscapes of the Cape Range National Park and the underwater treasures of the Ningaloo Marine Park. Swim with the awe-inspiring gentle giants of the water – whale sharks, manta rays, and humpback whales.
The area is renowned for its magical oceanfront. Appropriately named Turquoise Bay has earned its place on the list of Exmouth things to do because of its gorgeous blue seas and powdery white dunes. This is the ideal snorkel location and makes for incredible unwater photography because of its crystal-clear water.
Although Kenilworth does not offer the seashore getaway that Byron Bay does, this quaint little town surrounded by lush greenery and the Mary River offers a laid-back getaway. Kenilworth preserves its 1930s ambiance and offers a surprising amount of attraction for visitors, with a highly fascinating history museum and a decent selection of cafes, boutiques, an art gallery, and a dairy factory.
The area is ideal for bushwalkers, with beautiful picnic places and excellent horseback riding and fishing options, with many fishermen targeting bass, perch, mullet, and cod. Escape to Gheerulla State Forest, notable for its rock formations, and camping along Gheerulla Creek. Trail biking, swimming, camping, and bushwalking, are favorite pastimes in this area.
This trendy little town offers the same relaxed atmosphere as Byron Bay. Eumundi is the perfect mix of past and present. Historic structures, modern art galleries, boutique vineyards, and local history museums fill the streets. If you are traveling along the Sunshine Coast, the town is a must-see.
Eumundi is famous for its markets. Deemed some of the best markets in Australia, you can browse the locally produced and handmade goods every Wednesday and Saturday. These markets boast everything from fresh vegetables gathered that morning to mouth-watering street cuisine, local arts and crafts, skincare, apparel, homewares, massage therapists, palm readers, and entertainers.
Port Douglas, Queensland
Port Douglas is a sophisticated yet calm coastal community ideal for couples, families, and single travelers, with a variety of lodging options to suit all budgets, a multitude of restaurants and pubs, and wonderful boutique shopping.
Flex your adventure muscles by exploring the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest, and Cape Tribulation, with several excursions and day trips available. Spend a few nights away from the digital world in the world’s oldest living rainforest, the Daintree, and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the wild.
Port Willunga, South Australia
Port Willunga Beach is a breathtaking stretch on the Fleurieu Peninsula and deservedly one of the most photographed beaches in the area. Be sure to carry your camera close by to capture its golden rock walls, crystal blue waves, and the remains of the Port Willunga Jetty.
Be sure to visit the Star of Greece, a cozy restaurant that overlooks the magnificent coast. Their modern Australian menu with an emphasis on locally caught seafood. Feast on succulent calamari as you admire the incredible view from your table.
Jurien Bay, Western Australia
Jurien Bay is a firm favorite for a getaway in Western Australia. The area is known as an ideal fishing location. Fishing charters provide you with a tailormade experience and tips on where best to cast your line. If you’re not a fisherman, you may enjoy joining a sea lion tour to observe the endangered Australian Sea Lions lounging on the sand in Jurien Bay Marine Park.
Be sure to pack your beach bags and visit Sandy Cape, a picturesque beach located 13 kilometers north of Jurien Cove in a tiny, protected bay that provides excellent swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and sandboarding options.
Margaret River, Western Australia
Margaret River is a renowned wine area that is ideal for enjoying a variety of interests. It’s Australia’s only wine area where you can visit award-winning vineyards and restaurants while also seeing magnificent beaches, lush forests, champion surf breaks, and ancient caves.
Escape the bustling city life by delving into Margaret River’s natural wonders. The area is ideal for birdwatching, discovering hidden swimming holes, and taking a walk through the Boranup Karri Forest. Make your way to the mountain bike trails and marvel at the crystal caves.
Kick back with a refreshing gin, wine, or craft beer at one of the many restaurants that Margaret River has to offer.
Kuranda is a refreshing mountain escape from Australia’s coast during the sweltering summer heat. Kuranda is surrounded by the world’s oldest living tropical rainforest. Both Byron Bay and this inland paradise offer visitors a casual and relaxing atmosphere.
It’s an incredible trip through the World Heritage rainforest to reach Kuranda. Whether you drive up the mountain range, float above the canopy on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, or meander through the Barron Gorge on the world-famous Kuranda Scenic Railway, make sure you allow plenty of time to see everything Kuranda has to offer.
Stay at charming bed & breakfast accommodations, explore the famed Kuranda Markets and village shopping, go on rainforest hikes, and enjoy Kuranda Riverboat excursions, tours, and attractions.
Railay Beach, Thailand
Railay Beach is the ultimate tropical getaway. Beautiful white sand beaches, soaring limestone cliffs, vistas, caverns, and a lagoon buried inside the cliffs, can all be found on a single tiny peninsula. Sunbake on the picturesque beaches, rock climb the magnificent cliff faces, and hike up to the Railay Beach Viewpoint for a spectacular view.
Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes since there are no roads in Railay, only trails. Despite being connected to the mainland, the beautiful Phra Nang Peninsular is virtually blocked off from the rest of Krabi by limestone headlands and steep jungle valleys; the only way to get there is by water.
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