Tips for Hiking the Cape Byron Coastal Walk
Among the many sites worth seeing in New South Wales, the Cape Byron Coastal Walk is one of the most spectacular. The 3.7km loop takes you along the coast, through a rainforest and to the easternmost point in mainland Australia, offering stunning views around every corner. The best part? The coastal walk is free, and easy enough for the entire family to enjoy.
Before you slip on your sneakers and head to the walk, though, keep in mind some of these tips to ensure that you get as much as you can from this NSW treasure.
About the Walk
The Byron Bay Coastal Walk circles the Byron Bay Lighthouse; the well-maintained track circles a cape jutting into the ocean. You can pick up the track on Lighthouse Road, just east of the town of Byron Bay, or at several points along the track. Many people start from Byron Bay Beach. Not only is it easy to access the track from the south end of the beach, the track at this point passes right by the Byron Bay Hotel, an ideal spot to stop for lunch, dinner or a refreshing beverage after the strenuous walk. In fact, if you plan to book a hotel in Byron Bay, this is a good choice, as it offers easy access to the beach and all of Byron Bay’s activities.
The walk itself is relatively easy for someone in reasonably good shape but there are plenty of steep areas and stairs that make it difficult for those with prams or in wheelchairs. At a leisurely pace, the walk takes about two hours, but allow plenty of time for taking in the sights along the way, and possibly stopping for a drink or ice cream at the lighthouse.
What You’ll See
The Cape Byron Coastal Walk meanders past some of the most picturesque scenery in coastal Australia. Parts of the track pass through ancient rainforest, where you’ll enjoy the shade of bangalow trees, while other portions pass through kangaroo grasslands.
While the entire walk is scenic, some particular places to watch out for include:
- Wategos Beach. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, the Coastal Walk offers panoramic views of the golden sands and breaking waves. Watch for surfers in the water, or head down to the beach yourself for a cooling dip.
- Most easterly point of Australia. Just before you reach the lighthouse, you’ll spot a marker indicating the most easterly point on mainland Australia. You might even encounter wild goats in this area.
- Whales. From May through October, the waters of Byron Bay are part of the migratory path for humpback whales, and there’s a good chance you’ll see one or two along the way. Also watch out for dolphins, turtles and stingrays in the waters along the track.
- Byron Bay Lighthouse. This historic lighthouse was built in 1901 to warn ships of the dangers off of the shores of NSW; it still remains the brightest lighthouse in all of Australia. If you book ahead, you can take a guided tour of the lighthouse and the keeper’s cottage.
Tips & Warnings
While the Byron Bay Coastal Walk is scenic and an easy hike compared to those in some of Australia’s other natural areas, it can still be treacherous if you don’t prepare.
When walking the track, stay on the track — avoid getting too close to the cliff’s edge. Also, apply plenty of sunscreen and wear a hat, as the sun is quite intense in this area. Bring along plenty of water, and cash if you want to grab a snack at the lighthouse café, as they don’t accept plastic. And of course, don’t forget your camera and binoculars if you want to get a closer view of the wildlife and Mt. Waring in the distance.
The Byron Bay Coastal Track is a good way to get some exercise and experience the natural beauty of Australia’s coast. The track tends to be crowded with locals on the weekends, but it’s still an enjoyable experience for the entire family.
About the Author: Writer Cassie Sanderson lives near Byron Bay and has completed the Coastal Walk several times. A highlight of one walk was spotting a mother humpback whale and her calf just a few hundred metres from shore.