An absolute must-visit beach in Byron Bay NSW is Wategos Beach! Think dolphins and surfers, perfect golden sands, dreamy beachfront holiday homes, barefoot chic vibes and the odd Hollywood celebrity.
Known as one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches, Wategos Beach is also known as Byron’s most exclusive beachfront suburb and it’s here that the elite and wealthy come to let their hair down.
That being said, there is an extremely laid-back gentle – almost magical vibe about Wategos that makes everybody feel welcome.
Ask anyone who is very familiar with Byron and chances are they’ll tell you that Wategos is their favourite beach in Byron Bay.
Whether because it’s the perfect beach to escape the hordes of people at Byron’s busier beaches such as Main Beach and Clarkes Beach, or because of the lush tropical rainforest skirting the beach, the sheltered waters, the laid-back surfers or the unbeatable vibes – whatever the reason, many will agree that this is the ideal beach in Byron Bay and no trip to the area is complete without a visit to the iconic Wategos Beach!
Here’s all you need to know about Wategos Beach including how to get here, things to do and the best accommodation!
Where Is Wategos Beach In Byron Bay?
Wategos Beach is located north-east of the centre of Byron Bay and slightly north-west of Cape Byron Lighthouse. It lies roughly between The Pass (a famous surfing spot in Byron Bay) and Cape Byron Lookout.
If driving from the centre of Byron Bay it will take around 10 minutes to reach Wategos Beach. Alternatively, if you walk along the coastal boardwalk from Byron Bay it will take around 1 hour to reach Wategos Beach.
Wategos Beach location on Google maps
How To Get To Wategos Beach
The nearest airport to Byron Bay is the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, located 37km south of Byron. It will take roughly a 40 minute drive from Ballina Airport to get to Wategos Beach.
You can catch the Byron Easy Bus from Ballina Airport to Byron Bay for $50 per person – it will drop you off at your accommodation and then pick you up again when you’re ready to depart.
Alternatively you can rent a car, which may make it easier to get around.
Just be aware parking around Byron Bay and Wategos Beach can often be tricky as it is quite limited, plus parking during the day is metered and costs $4 per hour so the costs can add up!
Don’t think to skip paying for your parking at the parking meter or to stay parked longer than is allowed (parking is limited to 4 hours maximum – after that you need to move your car) – the parking wardens are extremely hot around here and you can get fined $271 if you’re parked inappropriately or without a valid ticket!
Especially during the summer months, you may struggle to get parking and will sometimes have to drive around the area a few times before you find a spot unless you arrive early in the morning!
For these reasons, many people prefer to forgo the car and just use Uber to get around or walk where possible.
Wategos Beach lies about 1 hour drive south of The Gold Coast and the Queensland/New South Wales border and is a must-visit on any East Coast Australia road trip.
Whether you’re driving from Sydney to Brisbane or all the way up to Cairns, a stop at Byron Bay and Wategos Beach is a must for a few days.
Note that if you’ll be coming to Byron Bay in a campervan you absolutely can not sleep in your campervan overnight on any streets as you will get a big fine.
Either reserve a spot at Reflections Holiday Park Clarkes Beach – located in the centre of Byron, or at Belongil Fields Caravan Park located a couple of kilometres out of town but more affordable.
THINGS TO DO AT Wategos Beach BYRON BAY
If you’re a longboarder and keen to hit the waves without too many surfers around, Wategos Beach is the ideal place to go. Bottlenose dolphins can often be seen surfing the waves here too, so make sure to keep an eye out for them too!
If you want some surfing lessons at Wategos then Rusty Miller – a local surfing legend offers private lessons.
Relax On Wategos Beach
Wategos is the perfect place to spend an afternoon relaxing on the beach away from the crowds, going in the water for a dip and then having a picnic by the beach!
There are several free BBQs just behind the beach, so make sure to bring some food so you can whip up something quick on the barbie and enjoy!
The water is calm if you’re going in for a swim at Wategos as the beach is protected from the big waves by Cape Byron Headland. Do be careful however that rips and strong currents can sometimes occur on the eastern part of the beach.
Wategos Beach is patrolled by lifeguards in the summertime months, so make sure to always swim between the flags!
After your swim you can get freshened up in the showers located just behind the beach. There are also bathrooms available.
Go For A Drink, Lunch Or Massage At Rae’s At Watego
Located in a prime spot mere steps away from Wategos Beach is Rae’s – the boutique hotel with an outdoor beach bar and restaurant attached.
Stop off for a drink or a quick bite and admire the views of the ocean – the vibes here can’t be matched! There’s also a day spa here if you really need to unwind and relax!
Rae’s at Wategos is known internationally as one of the best hotels in Australia so a stay here is really special! With only 7 rooms available, you definitely need to book in advance if you want to stay overnight!
Walk To Cape Byron Lighthouse
An absolute must-do when at Wategos Beach – and at Byron Bay for that matter – is to head up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse. This offers fantastic views over the beaches of Byron Bay and the hinterland, as well as out to the ocean and is one of the best photo spots in Byron Bay.
It’s truly breathtaking. During the winter months the headland is also a great place to spot migrating humpback whales heading up and down the coast!
The most popular way to get to Cape Byron Lighthouse is to walk from Wategos or central Byron as parking is extremely limited up at the lighthouse (plus costs $8 per hour). And yes – there’s always a parking warden around!
To reach the Cape Byron walking track from Wategos Beach, walk to the eastern part of the beach. Behind the beach you’ll find the walking track.
Follow the path around and up the hill – it should take around 15/20 minutes to reach Cape Byron Lighthouse from Wategos Beach (the track is 850 metres, going uphill gently).
Honestly the amount of time it takes to walk almost takes the same amount of time if you are driving from Wategos Beach up to Cape Byron Lighthouse as you have to go back on yourself when driving as it’s a one-way road up to the lighthouse, whereas the walking track is much more direct!
The Cape Byron Walking Track is an absolutely stunning walk and it’s not too long if you walk from Wategos Beach.
Plus there are many viewpoints along the way to stop off and enjoy the spectacular views, so it’s a really nice walk to do at a leisurely pace.
The walk goes through the rainforest and many people do it in their flip-flops after they’ve been to the beach so you don’t need specific hiking gear – it’s a good well-trodden path, with a few sets of stairs.
Also look out for the sign that says the most easterly point of mainland Australia!
The views from the top of Cape Byron headland are spectacular at any point of the day, however sunset is the time that draws the most crowds! That being said, there is a lovely laid-back atmosphere at this time and it feels very special.
There is plenty of space around that it doesn’t feel crowded, and many people bring up a picnic and drinks and enjoy the views with friends and some music.
If you can bear to wake up early, visiting Cape Byron Lighthouse at sunrise is a must-do when in Byron Bay.
This is the most easterly point of mainland Australia, so this is the first place in mainland Australia to see the sun every morning – pretty cool right?!
You definitely won’t have the place to yourself at sunrise – even then you will struggle to get a parking spot, so get there early if driving, or be prepared to walk up with a friend (and don’t forget torches as it’ll be dark when you’re walking up!).
Walk To Little Wategos Beach
Another one of the best things to do at Wategos Beach is to walk across to Little Wategos Beach. Located just 300 metres from Wategos Beach, below Cape Byron Lighthouse, Little Wategos is known as the most easterly beach in the whole of mainland Australia!
And even better is that this beach can only be accessed on foot so there’s a lovely secluded vibe! Little Wategos is one of Byron Bay’s hidden gems not known to many and is truly breathtaking!
Being one of Byron Bay’s least inaccessible beaches, Little Wategos is the perfect spot to go if you wish to get away from people as it never gets busy!
The small beach is great for swimming as it is well-protected and fairly sheltered. However, always take care as there are no lifeguards here and currents can sometimes be strong, so always let someone know you’re going in the water.
It’s also a popular fishing spot due to the variety of fish that can be caught here.
Little Wategos Beach can be accessed via the beginning of the Cape Byron walking track (but instead of turning right to go up to the lookout you carry straight on).
Alternatively you can just walk across from Wategos Beach along the rocks on the eastern side of Wategos Beach to Little Wategos – see the picture below.
Watch The Sunrise
Head down to Wategos to watch the sunrise and enjoy the beach almost to yourself. The locals here love to start their day early and you’ll see some of them enjoying the morning with a coffee in hand, others going for a brisk morning walk, and a few eager surfers already catching their first waves.
Take time to enjoy the sunrise vibes on this beautiful beach.
Walk To Byron Bay From Wategos Beach
Once you’ve explored all around Wategos Beach, make sure you head to Byron Bay! You can drive into the centre of Byron Bay in 10 minutes, but the scenic walk is a must-do.
Head west of Wategos, behind the showers and barbeques and you’ll find the walking track that will take you to Byron Bay. The walk takes you past The Pass – Byron’s most popular surfing spot.
Enjoy a coffee at The Pass Cafe, head down to the beach and up to the Fisherman’s Lookout to enjoy the views and look for dolphins, then continue your walk along Clarke’s Beach to reach the centre of Byron!
When in Byron, enjoy a drink or meal in one of the cafes, visit one of the many boutique clothing, artwork or crystals stores, or relax on the beach! There’s definitely something for everyone in this vibrant and laid-back surf town.
Other Things To Do In Byron Bay
Make sure to peel yourself away from Wategos and explore the rest of Byron Bay – there are some great activities you can do here!
Whether you want to go horse riding on the beach, go snorkelling at nearby Julian Rocks to see leopard sharks, grey nurse sharks, turtles or even manta rays and humpback whales or go sunrise kayaking with dolphins – there is so much to do in Byron Bay.
If you have a few days in Byron Bay, make sure to head into the Byron hinterland on a day trip to wacky Nimbin, Minyon Falls and Crystal Castle nearby!
Crystal Castle and Nimbin in particular are so unique and unlike anywhere else in Australia!
Alternatively, explore other areas along the coastline nearby, such as Yamba (dubbed the ‘new’ Byron Bay) and Angourie further south, or Dreamtime Beach (another one of the best beaches in Australia) and Fingal Head Causeway – Australia’s equivalent of The Giants Causeway further north!
Best Byron Bay Tours
Byron Bay has some great tours and activities to do, from snorkelling at Julian Rocks with leopard sharks or grey nurse sharks, to horse riding on the beach – there’s something for everyone.
Here are some of the best tours and activities I have done and recommend:
Where To Stay In Wategos Beach & Byron Bay
Byon Bay, and Wategos Beach in particular have some lovely accommodation options. Accommodation at Wategos Beach is much more expensive than in Byron Bay, so here is a selection of accommodation options I recommend:
If you’re looking for a unique boutique hotel right on the shores of Wategos Beach – Rae’s At Wategos is it. Hands down the best place I’ve ever stayed all the times I’ve been in Byron. With just 7 suites here you need to book it fast!
Stunning 1 bedroom apartment at Wategos Beach with ideal beach views from the balcony.
If you are looking for some mid-range accommodation in Byron Bay, I recommend staying at The Lord Byron Hotel.
The Lord Byron is situated in a very convenient location in Byron and is another one of my favourite Byron hotels.
Explore the town using their complimentary bikes, enjoy their heated pool and hot tub, play tennis at their tennis court, or just chill on your balcony!
The cheapest accommodation you can find in Byron is at Byron Bay YHA.
When To Visit Wategos Beach – Byron Bay
If you enjoy the beach when there are fewer people around, avoid it during the school summer holidays (December and January), as well as on public holidays, weekends and the school holidays in April and September.