Imagine the white crest and tumbling turquoise water beneath as you coast towards the shore. Then imagine paddling back out into the big blue to wait for that next perfect wave.
The world-class surf in Byron Bay has been a defining feature of the town since the 1960s. From dawn until dusk throughout the year, the water along this coastline is populated with surfers.
Surfing is undoubtedly one of the quintessential Byron Bay activities.
Every local surfer has their favourite spot and each beach is perfect for at least one type of surfer, board and experience level. And if you need to hire a board or refine your laid-back surfer look, there are plenty of places in town to get kitted out.
Let’s discover seven of the best breaks in Byron Bay – a world-class surf destination.
1) The Pass
15-minute drive from Elements of Byron.
Park at: Large car park located next to The Pass Café, just off Lighthouse Road.
Great for: consistent surf that’ll suit any surfer.
Without a doubt, the Pass is one of the busiest and best-known surf spots along the Byron coastline – if not the whole of Australia.
It’s an iconic surf break with big swells, consistent sets and long, peeling right-hand waves. The best surf arrives at low-to-mid tide with a south-southwesterly wind and east-southeasterly swell, but it’s rarely lacking decent waves.
The waters at The Pass are normally busy, particularly in popular holiday seasons, hosting all levels of surfers. Long-boarders are drawn here in particular, travelling huge distances on waves that break at right-angles to the beach.
This small corner of beach, tucked between Clarkes Beach and Fisherman’s Lookout is a hive of activity both in and out of the water. Be careful of the numerous swimmers that share the surf and the dive boats coming and going from Julian Rocks.
2) Tallow Beach
13-minute drive from Elements of Byron.
Park at: Tallow Beach car park at the end of Tallow Beach Road.
Great for: reliable surf when the rest of Byron’s flat.
‘Tallows’ is a popular point break for expert surfers, especially short-boarders, tucked under the south side of Cape Byron.
When the waves are quieter elsewhere in Byron, there’s a strong chance of finding great surf along this 3.2km stretch. Cosy Corner is the best spot when a northerly’s blowing, located at the often-deserted northern end of Tallow Beach.
The best surf at Tallows arrives with a southeasterly swell when the wind comes from the northwest.
But be aware: conditions here can be unpredictable with plenty of strong rips. It’s also largely unpatrolled, so not a place to head if you’re new to surfing.
To see what you Tallows can offer you, check out this video of Tallow Beach from the sky.
3) Broken Head Beach
23-minute drive from Elements of Byron.
Park at: The picnic area at the end Broken Head Reserve Road.
Great for: cranking right-hand point breaks for experienced surfers.
Broken Head Beach is home to an iconic—and massively underrated—surf break, featuring on most surfers’ Byron Bay wish lists.
On a good day, Broken Head can be very good indeed with fast and hollow right-hand point-breaks on offer. It’s best surfed rising and falling tides with a south-southwesterly wind and an east-southeasterly swell.
The surf does tend to be less consistent here than at The Pass or Tallows. Before heading down to the short bush track that accesses the beach, take a look at the latest conditions.
Like Tallow Beach, it’s largely unpatrolled so best left to more experience surfers. Busy on weekends, you can have the surf to yourself most weekdays.
4) Brunswick Heads Beach
18-minute drive from Elements of Byron
Park at: Along South Beach Road or grab a park in Brunswick Heads village.
Great for: expert surfers confident among strong rips.
On the southern side of the break wall in the village of Brunswick Heads is an exposed 10km stretch of sand that sweeps south to the Elements resort.
The strong currents and big swell here create consistent good surf and, with a south-westerly wind, occasional brilliant surf, as this surfing video shows. And as one of Byron’s quieter surf spots, you’ll rarely have to wait your turn or jump off early to avoid others paddling out.
This is not a break to suit novices though. Strong rips are common and there’s a hard-to-spot sandbank that runs down its entire length.
‘Bruns’ is patrolled throughout the summer by the local surf club and there’s plenty to enjoy over the bridge in the village when the surf’s not pumping.
5) Belongil Beach
In front of Elements of Byron, accessed via the Beach Club.
Great for: powerful right-handers popular with non-novice surfers.
At the southern end of Belongil Beach is a popular surf spot known as ‘The Wreck’.
Waves here break right and left around 10m in front of the shipwreck that’s sticking out of the water. The SS Wollongbar sank here in 1922 and has been forming the sandbank that delivers great waves ever since.
It’s best surfed at mid-to-high tide with a west-southeasterly wind and a north-northeast swell.
In calm conditions, The Wreck is also one of Byron’s best places for snorkeling and diving along with Julian Rocks. Belongil’s also a great place to catch the sunrise, as anyone who’s done yoga at Element’s First Light Club will tell you.
6) Clarkes Beach
12-minute drive from Elements of Byron.
Park at: Clarkes Beach car park off Lighthouse Road ($4/hour 9am-6pm daily).
Great for: beginners and body surfers.
Our last two beaches are gentler options, great for novices, long-boarders and paddleboarders.
With its gentle waves and long sandbank, Clarkes Beach is popular with swimmers, snorkelers and novice surfers. If you’re taking your first surf lesson in Byron Bay, chances are it’ll happen here.
Be aware that, strong rips develop in a northerly, making this surf dangerous for novices. These conditions arrive mostly during winter, with conditions staying consistent throughout much of the summer.
7) Wategos Beach
15-minute drive from Elements of Byron.
Park at: Wategos has limited parking spaces; more available at The Pass or Cape Byron Lighthouse car parks.
Great for: long-boarders and paddle boarders.
Our final beach is a secluded haven located just west of the Cape Byron headland.
Wategos is loved by long-boarders and paddle boarders as the waves tend to be fuller, slower and even longer than around the corner at The Pass. And like Clarkes Beach, Wategos is a great place for beginners.
When a south-southeasterly’s blowing, Wategos can deliver great surf for every length of board with right-hand point-breaks arriving around the Cape.
Note that Wategos is a small beach so, if the conditions look good, head out early before it gets overcrowded. And in bad weather, it’s best to avoid this one as the waves here can get very choppy.
Want more inspiration for things to do in Byron Bay? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Byron Bay.