In an age of televisions, computers, theme parks and homogenised shopping centres, Byron Bay offers a refreshing family holiday experience. Byron Bay gives your kids a taste of what holidays at the beach were like when you were young, while also providing plenty of ‘life’ and new experiences for older children. Whether your family is enjoying time at the beach, exploring the hinterland, watching the sunset drumming at Main Beach, listening to the music at the Sunday markets, or just relaxing in your accommodation, we’ve no doubt you’ll return home with fond memories of your Byron Bay family holiday.
Bryon Bay Family-Friendly Beaches
The beach is perhaps the best defence any parent can have against the modern world and will occupy kids for hours on end. If you haven’t had a family holiday for a while, you’ll be amazed that your kids actually remember how to play, relax, fool around and enjoy themselves without necessarily being ‘entertained’!
Byron Bay has many family-friendly beaches, including:
- Main Beach – in the centre of town, Main Beach is always popular. It is patrolled by the Surf Life Saving Club in Summer.
- Belongil Beach – a relaxing, dog-friendly beach that stretches north from Main Beach
- Clarkes Beach – located along from Main Beach as you head south toward The Pass, Clarkes Beach has good swimming conditions most days, often with shallow tidal pools that are perfect for young children
- The Pass – popular for surfers of all levels (and very busy in Summer), but also provides a protected beach and swimming area, lookout and barbeques.
- Wategos Beach – a famous long-boarding beach, also popular for picnics and barbeques.
- Cosy Corner – tucked in under the cape, Cosy Corner offers a sheltered beach area when the northerlies are blowing. From the carpark at the end of Tallow Beach Road it's a 10-minute walk along Tallow Beach; take an umbrella and plan to spend a morning or afternoon there.
- Broken Head Beach – ten minutes south of town, with rock pools and more room to move when the town beaches are busy.
Of course many kids are out of the practice of going to the beach and may require some reminding of what to do, so here are a few tips …
Water activities: Whether it’s swimming, body surfing, skim-boarding, body-boarding, snorkelling or surfing, the water is an endless source of entertainment. Don’t swim if there are blue bottles in the water (you’ll see them on the shoreline or on Main Beach the surf lifesavers will erect signs to warn you). On these days, the Byron Bay swimming pool at Main Beach is a great option and still looks out over the ocean.
For teenagers, activities such as surfing lessons, scuba diving and kayaking provide the opportunity to meet people, learn a new skill and have something to tell their friends about when they return home. Cape Byron Kayaks and Go Sea Kayak both have kayaking trips twice daily, and there are several surf schools. If you’re on the hunt for a surfboard, North Coast Surfboards offer new and second-hand boards and are more than happy to share some local surfing knowledge.
Beach walks: Take a walk from Main Beach to The Pass and scale the steps to the lookout for a great vista of the surfers carving smooth lines into the Bay. If you have a dog, you can walk the other direction from the Main Beach carpark along Belongil Beach. Dogs are also allowed on parts of Tallow Beach at Suffolk Park.
There are plenty of other great family beach and bush walks. Check out our Walking Trails page for more information.
Scavenging/Collecting/Exploring: Cosy Corner, Broken Head, Wategos and The Pass are all good for rock pool visits, while Tallow Beach and Belongil Beach are great for collecting beach treasures after big storms.
Beach Games: Beach games include (but are not restricted to) beach cricket, beach football, kite flying, beach volleyball, and frisbee – sell them to your kids as ‘like a Wii, but better!’. If you’ve come unprepared, Fit! in the main street has everything you’ll need to inspire your beach sporting activities, as well as swimwear and activewear.
Drawing in the sand: Great for teaching the Buddhist approach to impermanence, drawing in the sand is kind of like a really slow Etch-a-Sketch. Sell it to your kids as graffiti practice!
Making Sandcastles/Drip Castles: A sandcastle is a replica of a castle made of sand. Castles are what royalty used to live in back in the romantic days of Europe; if your kids can’t picture one remind them of the Disney logo. Buckets often come with strange bumps on the bottom to help create turrets; these were traditionally used for cover when shooting arrows at the enemy trying to attack you. If they got too close you’d pull up the drawbridge and send them crashing into the moat. For best effects fill the moat with piranhas, sharks and/or crocodiles; if all else fails pour boiling oil on them from above (you may need to improvise here).
Drip castles are alternatives to traditional castles and resemble mosques more than castles due to their spires.
Creative types can sculpt sand into other shapes also such as cars, mermaids, dragons, turtles, dolphins and modern art. If all else fails, bury your kids up to their necks and go for a beer at the Beach Hotel.
Reading: Before iPads, people read books. They work well in a sandy environment and, if thick enough, can double as a kind of Egyptian headrest – harder to sell to the kids, but worth a try.
Photography: Encourage your kids to learn how to photograph something other than a self-shot. Introduce them to landscapes, clouds, animals, surfers, or hippies. If they learn to photograph the place they’ll actually see it better and maybe even come to thank you.
Byron Bay Playgrounds and Skate Parks
Several small playgrounds are located along the esplanade walk from Main Beach down to Clarke’s Beach, as well as in Railway Park (opposite the Post Office) and Suffolk Park.
There are skate parks located behind the Youth Activity Centre (YAC) in Byron Bay, in Mullumbimby, Suffolk Park, Brunswick Heads, Lennox Head and Ballina.
Byron Bay Indoor Activities
If rain strikes during your Byron Bay family holiday, you won’t be short for entertainment. Circus Arts at the Arts and Industry Park has daily circus classes for all ages and abilities, and casual visitors are welcome. For an adventurous addition to your holiday, take a class in the flying trapeze.
There’s also a well-run indoor playground for kids at the Arts and Industry Park. Kid’s World costs $10 per child and has a café for parents.
If your kids are suffering multi-media withdrawal there are two cinemas in town. The Dendy cinema in the centre of town offers your traditional movie-going experience, but also check out the Lounge Cinema, next to the Buddha Bar, for a more unique experience. There is your usual array of DVD shops, as well as internet cafés if your kids are desperate to get online (and many accommodation spots and cafés have complimentary WiFi).
The Crystal Castle is 20-minute drive from Byron Bay and has well-manicured gardens for kids to wander about. There’s a labyrinth, giant Buddha, rainforest planting section, Buddhist World Peace Stupa under construction, loads of crystals, and a great café with views over the hinterland.
The Macadamia Castle offers a groovy playground, mini-golf, animal petting and another great café. Teenagers can try out the Segway rides.
Organic Baby Shop
If you have young children, or are expecting, Nature’s Child at the Arts & Industry Park will leave you feeling thoroughly inspired by their extensive range of goods for babies and young children. This award-winning shop was a first of its kind, stocking everything from organic cloth nappies to baby hammocks, non-toxic toys, baby slings, gorgeous clothing, and literature. They have done everything possible to make mums, dads and children feel welcome, even providing a breast-feeding couch, nappy-change and toilet facilities for your convenience when you visit the store.
Dining with Kids
Byron Bay is pretty relaxed and kids are generally welcomed everywhere. There is also a delightful absence of certain overly-familiar fast-food outlets that dominate many other towns. At Byron Bay’s famous Earth’n’Sea pizza and pasta restaurant kids will love the old-fashioned booths, with pencils and colouring pictures provided to younger diners. These days, sushi is just as likely to rate as a preferred meal for kids – O'Sushi, in the Woolworths Plaza, has a sushi train and is known for its friendly service. Kids are also big fans of yum cha from Red Ginger. For fresh-made icecream at its best, In The Pink is located in Jonson Street.
The Sunday markets provide fantastic entertainment for kids of all ages. The markets move around the Shire and are held in Byron Bay at the Butler Street Reserve on the first Sunday of each month. See our Market Guide for more information.
If your kids get into trouble while you are away there are a number of medical centres and chemists in town, as well as an unprecedented collection of healing arts to set them right. The Byron Bay Hospital has a 24-hour emergency department.