Byron Bay Surf
Surfing, perhaps more than any other religion, is the common denominator in Byron Bay. Blessed with a selection of world class breaks, Byron Bay has become a surfing mecca.
Surfing (in itself) has no discrimination - old and young, rich and poor, men and women, children and adults, black and white, locals and anyone else - all come to pray in the blue room.
In Byron Bay, we are fortunate to have a variety of breaks that cater for a skill levels. Choose from Wategos, The Pass, Belongil, The Wreck, Broken, Tallows and Cosy Corner - depending on your skill and where the wind is coming from.
When the Byron Bay surf is up, Byron is cruising. When there's been no swell for a couple of weeks, you can feel the frustration in the air, as the devotees struggle to find the same peace as they find in the ocean. Then the swell picks up again, and so does the buzz in Byron.
The testimony to Byron's love affair with surfing can be seen on the main street - no less than 5 surf shops on Jonson St and a countless procession of surfboard wielding backpackers.
This is a far cry from Byron's origins as a surf town. It was more than 40 years ago when Byron first made waves on the surf scene.
In 1962, two lucky New Zealanders chanced upon Lennox Head, and the world surf press loved it. Naturally, Byron soon followed suit and has since become one of Australia's favourite destinations.
Byron Bay surf is truly blessed with a collection of north, east and south facing beaches - warm water, quality waves and a view to die for. There's almost always a wave there to be had if you know which break to go to.
For beginners, the bay itself is the most suitable. This is the most protected Byron Bay surf area and also the closest to town. In actual fact, the bay is comprised of a number of breaks - Belongil, The Wreck (named because of the ship wreck lying in the sand), Main Beach, Clarks, and The Pass (going from North to South). Somewhere along this stretch you are bound to find a wave tailored to your skill level.
It's not uncommon to see some of the more senior members of the surfing community riding a massive 100 meter long wave from the Pass all the way to Main Beach. The Pass is a long, winding right, dependent on sand distribution, but usually starting close to a top-end rock outcrop and peeling way down toward Clark's Beach over a half mile away. Often the wave gets hollower as it runs.
These breaks (especially The Pass) are a magnet for longboard riders - so much so that it can quite dangerous at times. The rule in this situation? Be courteous and respect your fellow surfers.
Just below the Lighthouse on the northern side, you find Wategos and Little Wategos. Again, this is Long Board heaven - and again, it can get pretty busy out there. Here you will find a combination reef-sand point break producing slow rights and a beautiful swimming zone, as long as you're not particularly afraid of sea life! If it all gets a bit too much, Wategos Beach is a great place just to soak up the beautiful scenery. And, If you've got a spare few million dollars just floating around, why not buy a place whilst you're there!
On the southern side the lighthouse is Tallows Beach. This beach stretches all the way from Cosy Corner (directly under the lighthouse) through Dolphins and down to Broken Head - a magnificent piece of coastline no matter what the weather conditions. For the most part, the waves here are larger and more challenging. Protected from the northeast sea breeze, Tallows is the haunt of mobile surf schools, surfing families, and most of Byron's hot young crop. For most of the year there are no beach patrols and the rip here is often very strong. Tourists drown here almost every year, so please be careful.
Byron Bay Surf Breaks
Belongil: Best swell E/SE, Sandy Bottom, River Mouth and Beach Break
The Wreck: Best Swell E/SE, Rock/Sandy Bottom, Point Break
Main Beach: Best Swell E/SE, Sandy Bottom, Beach Break
Tallows: Best Swell E - S, Sandy Bottom, River Mouth Beach Break
Broken Head: Best Swell S/S-E, Sandy Bottom, Point and Beach
Bring your: Short board, longboard, "fun board", six-channel, whatever
Best season: Late summer/autumn
Access: Parking lots almost right on the northern-facing spots; for Tallow Beach, it's parking then a short bush-track walk
Crowd factor: Can be very crowded, especially at The Pass, with a high proportion of longboard riders. Please be careful and respect your fellow beach goers.