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SUMMARY
+ Beautiful right pointbreaks
+ N-S swell window
+ Byron Bay backpacker heaven
+ Warm, clear water & dolphins
+ Lush natural backdrop
- Rarely any big swells
- Lack of reefbreaks
- Intense and constant crowds
- Pricey accommodation
oneill



Far North Coast, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA


Lennox Head, Craig Parry

Surf Spots

Evans Head
Saltwater
Ballina South Wall
Ballina North Wall
Flat Rock Ballina
Lennox Head
Broken Head
Suffolk Park
Tallows
Wategoes (Byron Bay)
The Pass (Byron Bay)
The Wreck (Byron Bay)
Brunswick Heads
Pottsville Beach
Cabarita
Kingscliff
Fingal Head

The Surf

Byron Bay is mainland Australia’s easternmost tip, sticking out into the blue Pacific, attracting surfers to a veritable array of long golden beaches and rocky headlands. From a sleepy coastal hippy town that encompassed the Far North Coast vibe, Byron has mutated into a virtual city, attracting movie stars, property developers and hordes of backpackers. While there are some epic set-ups, a lack of decent-sized swell dictates that conditions are fairly inconsistent, relying on summer cyclone swells or big winter S swells to create waves worth remembering. Typically, shoulder-high waves snap across the sandbanks in clean, small-size swells, while bigger days see short, steep close-outs relying primarily on wind and tide to give rideable waves at the main beaches. It’s these bigger days that get the handful of quality pointbreaks to rumble into life with locals descending from miles around.



When to Go

The main winter swells occur April-September from lows stationed in the Tasman Sea producing consistent E-S swells. In summer, December-April is the tropical cyclone season in the Coral Sea, but it is rare to get many long period NE swells and if the cyclone is too close, the surf will be choppy and erratic. E and SE swells are far more generous and help boost the annual mean wave height to 6-7ft. Wind is crucial, the best being SW, which often blows May to August. Summer sea breezes start off with N- NE dominance as early as Sept/Oct, before SE takes over by Feb/March. Occasional hot NW’ers will groom everything on the coast but as temps rise, the NE’ers kick back in. As a general rule, beachies are better at high tides and pointbreaks on the low tides. Tide range can reach 6ft (1.9m).

SURF STATISTICS
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
dominant swell NE -NE NE -SE NE -SE NE -SE NE -SE NE -NE
swell size (ft) 5 5-6 5-6 6 5 5
consistency (%) 73 84 78 70 60 59
dominant wind N -S E -S SE -SW SE -SW N -NE N -S
average force F4 F4 F3 F3 F4 F4
consistency (%) 62 63 59 49 61 73
water temp (C) 26 25 23 21 22 24
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts springsuit springsuit springsuit boardshorts
Population
Byron - 9,000

Coastline
1,900 (1,180mi)

Timezone
GMT +10hr

Travel Information

Weather

The far north coast climate is much closer to Queensland’s subtropical weather than Sydney. Summer temps average 21-28°C and winter temps 15-21°C, giving Byron Bay an excellent year-round climate. The beaches around Byron offer clean, warm water, 26°C (79°F) in summer and 21°C (70°F) in winter, a springsuit should be enough for most sessions, the need for a light fullsuit only required on cold winter mornings or in cold SW’ers.

Nature

Hike the 3.7km Cape Byron walking track through rainforest, beach, grassland and clifftops to the lighthouse. Take binoculars to spy whales Feb-March and schools of dolphins May-October. Check the beautiful hinterland of National Parks and rainforest for bushwalking and waterfalls. Visit eclectic towns like Nimbin. Socialise with the huge international crew of visitors and locals in lively bars like the Beach Hotel, which displays big screen surf videos.

Hazards

In 2015 alone, NSW recorded 14 unprovoked shark incidents, resulting in one fatality at Ballina. Lots of shark activity at Brunswick, Byron, Tallows, Suffolk Park, Broken, Lennox, Ballina and Evans Head. Bluebottles (stinging man-o-war) on NE winds are more of a nightmare. Crowds are bordering on insanity, especially when learners mix with the ultra-competitive local crew at breaks like The Pass.

Hints

Shapers like McTavish and Maddog have showrooms both in town and the industrial estate. Expect $500+ for a shortboard and $1400 for a McTavish longboard. Beginners have a huge choice of surf schools in Byron Bay. Avoid Dec-Jan high season.

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