How to explore Byron Bay on a budget
This magical beach town is a well-known spot for backpackers travelling the East Coast, and with good reason. Spend a couple of days here and you’ll experience the relaxed Aussie way of life and never want to leave. Enjoy the countless white sandy beaches, great surfing for beginners and pros alike, boutique shopping, live music, and of course the ‘chilled out’ vibes.
Many believe Byron Bay to be an expensive destination, but with a few insider tips, you’ll find that some of the greatest things in life really are free. This Aussie paradise has heaps of great free and budget-friendly options from sightseeing and events, to dining and accommodation.
If you’re planning on backpacking – or just on a budget – here are my top tips for enjoying ‘The Bay‘ (as the locals call it) on a budget.
STAY AT A HOSTEL
If you’re on a budget, then I’d recommend staying at a hostel for your accommodation. Not only is it generally cheaper than a hotel, but you also get access to a whole range of free or budget-friendly activities while also making some new friends. I stayed at Wake Up! Byron Bay and was pleasantly surprised by not only the facilities but also the range of budget-friendly (or free!) activities they put on for guests. From free beachside yoga, personal training, surfboard and stand-up paddleboard hire, bike hire, pancake breakfasts, as well as pizza, BBQ and Sushi nights, the options were endless! If you’re travelling solo or wanting to meet new people, these activities are also a great way to do that.
WATCH THE SUNRISE
There is no better way to start your day than watching the sunrise, and the best spot in Australia is at the lighthouse in Byron Bay. Not only is it the most eastern point of the country with uninterrupted views of the horizon, but will also be one of the first persons to see the sunrise in Australia that day.
Do like the locals and enjoy a morning run up to the iconic lighthouse, or if you’re staying at Wake Up! take advantage of the free bike rentals or lighthouse shuttles.
Before heading back home you can enjoy a coffee and a scone at the Lighthouse Café for only $10, this also includes an amazing view of the lighthouse, ocean and beaches.
While the lighthouse sunrise is breathtaking, it’s also a great place to watch the sunset as well. Nothing beats walking back to town on The Pass with the sky shifting colours that reflects on the water; while surfers ride the last waves of the day. The Beach Restaurant is a great place to spoil yourself with a couple of drinks, enjoying the best view of the sunset while sitting down.
HIT THE BEACH
Byron is full of amazing beaches, but my favourite had to be the beautiful Belongil Beach. This beach is a lot quieter than the Main Beach, meaning you can relax and enjoy the serenity… without the swarming crowds. Lay back and soak up the Aussie sun, have a swim, or even try your hand at yoga!
If you’re staying at Wake Up, Belongil Beach is directly across the road and less than a minute walk from your room. Be sure to take advantage of the free board hire and hit the waves with a stand-up paddleboard, or even try your turn at surfing. If you’re wanting some tips and tricks on surfing, I’d recommend booking a private lesson from a travel agency. (There is one, Peter Pans directly opposite the hostel reception)
EXPLORE THE TOWN, WINDOW SHOPPING AND THE MARKETS
Byron Bay is not only a relaxed beach town, but also a creative hub for of all kind of artists from near and afar. You will find street musicians all over town, local painters, galleries and heaps of Byron Bay-based brands, like Afends, Atmosea and Spell & The Gypsy. Spend a day just walking around window shopping checking out some of the gorgeous local Aussie labels.
If you’re looking to get out of the main town, grab a bike from Wake Up! and head the opposite direction of the town, and you’ll find yourself in the Arts & Industrial Estate. I’d recommend going to the cute Habitat precinct for a quick coffee at Barrio before you hit the shops! Be sure to ride through the estate as you will find lots of hidden free-standing shops and cafés.
If markets are more your thing then you’re in luck! Byron Bay is all about locals supporting locals, and the markets are a great way to actually see and talk to the designers! The first Sunday of every month you have the main market, brimming with local designers, food vendors and more. Barter your way through and score some really great deals on souvenirs, clothes and accessories. If you miss this one, then there is also the Twilight Market which is held every Saturday in the Railway Park, located just near the main bus stop in town.
FREE WINE AND CHEESE NIGHT @ WAKE UP!
It’s really the one day you can’t miss out on, and the reason why so many travelers extend their stay. It’s hosted at the Wake Up! hostel for all guests and it is definitely the day most of the people attend (cause it’s free, and who doesn’t love free food?). You will be served with big cheese plates with different kind of cheeses, hommus, grapes and crackers, with your choice of white or red wine. The atmosphere this night is amazing, and if you’re travelling solo or up to make new friends, this is the event for you!
Hot tip: Wine & Cheese is hosted on Wednesdays, which also doubles as Woody’s Wednesday, and that means free entry and a drink voucher for all Wake Up! guests!
PICNIC AT MAIN BEACH
Bring a big blanket to the Main Beach and enjoy a lazy afternoon in the sun. You will find the lawn in front of the beach full of people, and if you’re lucky a local musician may be playing too. It’s the perfect place to relax and just enjoy. Grab some fresh fruit, bread rolls and spread at Aldi or go to Woolworths for something from the in-store Deli to keep the budget in check.
There’s also many affordable, cheap-eat take-away places close to Main Beach so you can get a delicious Acai-bowl, something from Bay Kebab or burgers at Bayger or Beloporto – all for around $10.
Hot tip: Stay until sunset as there’s usually a drum circle while the sun goes down!
Not a morning person? I’m certainly not. On Sunday morning I woke up at 9am to the blissful smell of fresh pancakes wafting into my room. Lo and behold, I wandered into the common area to discover the staff at Wake Up! Byron Bay dancing away to the radio while whipping up delicious fluffy pancakes for all the guests. It was an all you can eat buffet style pancake breakfast with a range of toppings from maple syrup, banana, fresh fruit and sauces – all completely free.
If you’re keen to explore, these top insta-worthy spots are also a great way to explore all the best places in The Bay while scoring some gorgeous content for the ‘gram.
Whatever you choose to do, Byron Bay is full of amazing things to do that won’t break the bank. Plan ahead, ask the locals, and best of all, talk to any friends/family who’ve been lucky enough to travel through this beautiful beach town.
by Sunniva Kamp
Fashion-loving foodie from Norway who bought a one-way ticket to travel around Australia! Follow my adventures daily on @sunnivakamp