Byron Bay is one of the most popular beach destinations on the East Coast of Australia. But what if you’re visiting with a dog? On my recent visit with my pup I investigated everything dog-friendly in Byron Bay, and can recommend these options for your visit…
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Byron Bay
When it comes to dog-friendly accommodation in the heart of Byron Bay, there’s not as many options available as you’d expect. Even most of the caravan parks don’t allow dogs, and the rates are generally more expensive that other coastal towns further south, even compared to Ballina.
Your best bet for affordable dog-friendly accommodation in Byron Bay is Ingenia Holidays Byron Bay. Located a few kilometres south of Byron Bay proper in Suffolk Park, the park allows pets both on camp sites and in selected cabins. (Just the studio cabins, I believe.) Blackout dates apply, but are not listed on the website.
It’s a very large park, the largest in Byron Bay, with lots of unpowered sites in particular. It’s no surprise then that the rates for unpowered sites are a lot cheaper than for powered sites, something to keep in mind if you don’t really need power. For powered sites or cabins, it’s best to book, either by calling or emailing if you want to stay with a pet.
One of the benefits of staying at Ingenia Holidays Byron Bay is that it’s just a short walk to the off-leash Tallow Beach, located behind the park. However, in between lies a wetlands area, and the access path sometimes floods. When we stayed, the path behind the caravan park was very muddy, and once it reached the public pathway it was flooded. I did notice a fenced area at the rear of the park though that seems to be for off-leash exercise, although it was un-signposted and not on the map.
Another option, immediately south of Ingenia Holidays, is the Byron Bay Rainforest Resort. The resort has nine self-contained cottages, all of which are pet-friendly, for an additional charge. It’s a peaceful spot, surrounded by remnant coastal rainforest and wetlands, with lots of walking tracks on the property. Just don’t expect a luxury resort, it’s more basic in style.
Another pet-friendly option near Byron Bay is The Chalet Motel in Brunswick Heads, just 20 minutes to the north. The Chalet is a classic 60s-style motel, albeit freshly renovated, with beautiful stylings, luxe toiletries and smart TVs. Brunswick Heads is a more relaxed alternative to Byron Bay and there’s an off-leash beach within walking distance. There’s an additional charge of $30 per stay for your pet.
Dog-Friendly Dining in Byron Bay
While there’s not much dog-friendly accommodation, there’s no shortage of dog-friendly places to eat out in Byron Bay and the surrounding towns. Just walk along the main streets and there’s plenty of cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating, many with water bowls put out for the pups of locals and visitors.
One of our favourite dog-friendly spots around Byron Bay was the Treehouse on Belongil. It’s a very spacious venue with a tropical vibe, open daily from early to late for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just a drink. It’s a great spot to head before or after a walk on the off-leash Belongil Beach, with dogs welcome at the many outdoor tables.
Another popular spot in Byron Bay these days is the Byron Bay General Store. Established as a general store in 1947, these days it’s a rustic chic cafe serving up mainly vegan fare at breakfast and lunch. There’s plenty of outdoor seating and we spotted lots of dogs when we visited, even one inside, but maybe that was just for ordering. I highly recommend the smoothie bowls!
I also recommend heading to the Stone & Wood, whose Byron Bay brewery is located just west of town. The brewery and tasting room is open during the day, and their friendly staff assured me dogs are welcome in the large outdoor space. We just picked up some takeaway beers, but tasting paddles are available to sample their large range, as well as a small food menu.
If you head further west from Byron Bay, just before the Pacific Motorway is The Farm. The very popular Three Blue Ducks restaurant is located here, with plenty of outdoor tables where dogs are welcome. Alternatively, just grab a snack from inside or from the gelato stand, and take a walk around the property. Your dog is welcome to join you on the 1km route around the farm, as long as they stay on a leash.
Note that if you’re considering heading to the Byron Farmers Market, dogs are not permitted. I’m not sure if this applies at the other markets in the Byron Bay area.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in Byron Bay
Two of the beaches right in Byron Bay allow dogs off-leash: Belongil Beach and Tallow Beach. Belongil Beach is located just west of the Main Beach in Byron Bay (where dogs are prohibited), and is a very popular spot with backpackers. The waters are pretty sheltered, and it’s a great spot to head for a walk, picnic or to enjoy the sunset. The off-leash section starts just west of the Main Beach car park and extends west to Manfred Street in Belongil.
Tallow Beach is located just south of Cape Byron. In total it’s 6.5km long, but the off-leash section is about 1.5km in length, from just south of the Arakwal National Park (there’s an access path on the northern side of the caravan park) south to Jarman Street in Suffolk Park. This beach is more open, with rougher waters, and quieter.
Another beautiful off-leash beach to head with your pup is Brunswick Heads Beach. This beach is located 20 minutes north of Byron Bay and is popular with locals, away from the bustle of Byron Bay. The off-leash section is well signposted, starting just south of the Surf Club and extending for 400m south to the boundary of Tyagarah Nature Reserve.
Alternatively, if you head south of Byron Bay, Seven Mile Beach in Lennox Head has an off-leash section. Famous for its surf break, the off-leash section of this beach starts just north of the Surf Club, adjacent to Lake Ainsworth, and extends to the very distant end of the beach.
To access the off-leash beach section, use the access path just north of the Surf Club, with dogs required to be on leash on the path. Confusingly, Pacific Parade is no longer open to vehicles and there’s plenty of dog prohibited signs around, as dogs are not allowed on the land surrounding the lake. Alternatively, take Camp Drewe Road around to the 4WD access point north of the lake.
Additionally, in Ballina, dogs are allowed off-leash at The Spit.
Off-Leash Dog Parks in Byron Bay
If you’d prefer to skip heading to the beach with your dog, there’s also an alternative off-leash dog exercise area at Suffolk Park, just south of Byron Bay. The reserve behind the northern end of Beech Drive, right around the lake, is off-leash. It’s a peaceful spot for an off-leash walk away from the road.
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing Around Byron Bay
Unfortunately, dogs are prohibited from one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Byron Bay, Cape Byron and its Lighthouse. This area is situated in the Cape Byron State Conservation Area, which prohibits dogs.
The Cape Byron State Conservation Area extends across most of Cape Byron, excluding the residential areas at Wategos Beach and behind Clarkes Beach, but including the actual beaches at Wategos Beach and Clarkes Beach. Off limit to dogs is the popular walking track to the easternmost point in Australia and the lighthouse.
However, there’s plenty more sightseeing options available around Byron Bay that do allow dogs. Once you’ve had your fill of the beaches and cafes around Byron, get in your car and head off on a road-trip through the Byron Bay Hinterland to stop at these dog-friendly destinations.
1. Visit The Farm at Ewingsdale
Just 10 minutes west of Byron Bay, adjacent to the Pacific Motorway, a must-visit stop is The Farm. As well as being home to the Three Blue Ducks restaurant, it’s also an actual farm.
There’s a recommended 1km-long tour around the property, which can be done self-guided or guided, a chance to view the animals and produce growing there. On-leash dogs are permitted to join you. Perhaps also stop off at the Bread Social Bakery or Baylato for snacks.
2. Head to Newrybar
The delightful small village of Newrybar is also just off the Pacific Motorway, southwest of Byron Bay. The village is home to the award-winning Harvest Newrybar restaurant. But there’s also the wonderful Harvest deli and coffee-stand and some gorgeous shops, Harvest Marketplace and Luther & Co.
Luther & Co was named after their recently passed away German Shepherd, Luther, and you’re still likely to encounter a dog or two out the front. I’m not certain if dogs are allowed inside, but it’s still possible to browse the front.
Plus don’t miss grabbing one of the delicious sausage rolls at Harvest deli, enjoying it out on the verandah, or some of the sourdough bread baked in the 118 year old wood-fired oven.
3. A Stroll Through Bangalow
Not far from Newrybar is the larger town of Bangalow. This is also a great shopping destination for homewares and clothing, even if you just stick to window shopping. Perhaps also stop off at Butcher Baker Bangalow or Bangalow Bread Co for a sweet snack.
Many of the buildings lining the main street of town are 100 years old or even older. Keep an eye out for the Bangalow Heritage Walk signs on many of the buildings, for details of their history.
4. Hiking at Rocky Creek Dam
Not far inland from Byron Bay is the Nightcap National Park, home to a beautiful World-Heritage listed rainforest. While dogs aren’t allowed in the park, head to the adjacent Rocky Creek Dam, part of the Rous County Council Rainforest and Water Reserve, where on-leash dogs are permitted. The dam is a 55-minute drive inland from Byron Bay, along some beautiful but bumpy roads.
Unfortunately, the dam was closed when I visited in late June, but by all reports it’s a great destination to head with your dog. There’s multiple walks available, up to 2.3km long. Just skip the longer walks that enter into the national park. There’s also a grassed picnic area.
5. The Hippie Town of Nimbin
A little further inland from Byron Bay is the old hippie town of Nimbin. It’s a further 40 minute drive from Rocky Creek Dam, or 75 minutes directly from Byron Bay. Alternatively, the road from Lismore is less windy and bumpy, especially if you’re driving a campervan like we were.
Originally a small dairy farm, Nimbin became the hippie capital of Australia when it hosted the Aquarius Festival in 1973. I thought there was a strange vibe around the town, and people have mixed opinions about visiting.
Perhaps head there on the weekend for the Nimbin Market, held on every forth and fifth Sunday of the month. Alternatively, the town is home to plenty of quirky boutiques and shopfronts, including the Nimbin Hemp Embassy, plus some colourful murals and new-age cafes.
6. A Tasting at Cape Byron Distillery
Not far from Bangalow is the Cape Byron Distillery, a producer of fine gins and liqueurs, and soon also whiskey. While only guide dogs are allowed on the regular tours, well-behaved pet dogs are welcome to join you for a tasting on the balcony.
I didn’t get a chance to visit while I was in Byron, but their location surrounded by rainforest and a macadamia orchard looks gorgeous. Bookings are essential.
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