THINGS TO DO IN NORTH COAST
A quiet oasis to the world stage, the North Coast is as much a stomping ground for A-list celebrities as it is for free-loving souls.
A dramatic coastline and a hinterland that wows, the North Coast of New South Wales is a dreamy destination with a laid-back attitude. Home to some of the best surf breaks on the east coast, rolling hills of fertile farmland, and a sprinkling of must-visit villages, the North Coast is one good-looking region with a whole lot going on.
Once a humble oasis, this sun-loving region is where surfers, backpackers and peace-loving souls came to bask in all of its natural goodness; ocean swells, blissful bushland and easy-going vibes. But the North Coast has hit the big leagues with A-list celebrities and holidaymakers coming in droves. At the centre of it all is Byron Bay – one of Australia's most talked about (and visited) beachside towns, and rightfully so, with its sub-tropical climate, stunning coastline and lush hinterland.
Whether you're visiting or staying for the long haul, the beauty of the North Coast is in its zest for life. From coast to the hinterland, whether you're looking for a party town, family-friendly fun, or a place to retreat to, this spectacular region delivers ten-fold. Packed full of things to do, the North Coast of New South Wales is one hot destination. So, settle in, because our list of things to do is long.
This Insta-famous destination is bursting at the seams with on-trend cafes that champion sustainable eats, boutique shopfronts, farmgate and community markets, plus festivals that promote the easy-going boho vibes this region is renowned for. Yet, it's the coastline of heart-thumping walks (Byron Bay Lighthouse), surfing (The Pass) and diving (Julian Rocks Nguthungulli Nature Reserve) hotspots that really charms. And when the sun dips, Byron Bay's nightlife heats up with late-night bars, lively restaurants and beach parties that kick-on well into the night.
A quiet and pretty countryside town that charms at every turn, Bangalow champions an earthy, boho lifestyle that comes with a dash of coastal cool. It's a standout in the hinterland for its lush surroundings and heritage village. It's filled with lustful cafes with paddock-to-plate menus, trendsetting homeware stores, and markets that are overflowing with fresh local produce, artisan homewares and furnishings that hail from near and far.
Thanks in large part to the North Coast's lush sub-tropical surrounds, the region has a foodie trail that delights at every turn (literally), and with so much organic produce, you know the food is going to be good. Really good! Here, anything goes, from wholefood cafes and global eats to storefronts pumping out ocean-fresh fish n' chips and burgers. But it's places like Three Blue Ducks, Harvest Newrybar, Raes Dining Room, Folk, Woods Bangalow, and The Bread Social that you won't want to miss. Making the local foodie trail one of the best things to do on the North Coast.
Don your hiking boots and pack your swimmers because there is so much to explore. Along the coast or high in the hinterlands and beneath the canopy of lush rainforests, there are walking trails and beaches begging to be explored. The iconic Byron Bay Lighthouse is a must, if not for the walk, but for the views along the way. Foreshore parks give way to miles of beachfront, which is a veritable playground for water sports; surfing, sea kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, windsurfing, and of course, the many tour boats that go out to greet the majestic whales on their annual migration.
Homewares to fashion to surf stores, the North Coast's shopping scene just keeps on outdoing itself, and it’s one of the best things to do on the North Coast. Byron Bay is a bustling centre with international and homegrown designer brands, while Ballina and Lismore have all the big name brands. But venture into the hinterland, and you'll discover some real gems; Newrybar Merchants in Newrybar and Our Corner Store and Bisque Traders in Bangalow.
Arts + Music Scene
With a line-up of sell-out festivals (Bluesfest and Splendour in the Grass), Byron Bay and surrounding towns have a thriving music and art scene. Yet, you don't have to wait for these annual music festivals for some seriously good tunes. Local cafes, bars and pubs promote live music, and buskers and street performers roam the streets and foreshores. Art galleries shine a spotlight on local and international talent, and monthly community markets are a platform for local artisans.
Being the destination that it is, adventure sports have etched their way in, in a big way; mountain biking, deep-sea diving, sea kayaking, sky diving, quad biking. Plus, there are surf schools in abundance and tour operators that will take you out into the deep blue for wildlife encounters - whales, sea turtles, dolphins, leopard sharks.
With so many things to do on the North Coast, you'll want to stay for a while. Beachfront campgrounds to luxurious getaways, there is plenty of places to choose from; luxe stays (Raes on Wategos) to hotels that have been given a lavish makeover (The Bower), to seaside retreats (Elements of Byron Bay) and insta-worthy holiday properties (The Ranch Byron Bay). Yet, nothing is quite like a wellness retreat (Gaia Retreat & Spa). Whichever you choose, one thing is for sure. You'll be in for a real treat.
Where life is meant to be lived in the great outdoors, there are so many things to do on the North Coast of New South Wales.
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