Top 10 tips for navigating the Byron Bay Lighthouse Walk
G’day nature lovers,
The lighthouse is one of the iconic features of Byron Bay, no trip to Byron is complete without a visit.
I’m often asked “What’s the best way to get to the Byron Lighthouse?” I always reply, “It depends on your fitness, but as with everything in live, always take the high road.” Here are my top 10 tips to navigating the Byron Bay Lighthouse Track.
Everyone refers to it as the Lighthouse walk, but the walk is in fact the Cape Byron Walking Track. The track is 3.7km, but there’s all’s sorts of ways to do it.
Tip #1 Look at a map
Every time I walk the track, I come across people who don’t know where they’re going, so look at a map. Or you can download the Byron Bay Walk Tour app.
Tip #2 Lighthouses tend to be on highest point
Lighthouses tend to be on headlands, not on beaches. The Cape Byron Lighthouse stands on a headland that is at 100m, which means what ever way you go you’ll need climb at least 100m, add another 23m if you go to the top of the lighthouse.
I’ve talked to many people who have not completed the lighthouse walk, they get to Wategoes or the Pass, see the big hill and turn back, I say to them, “just tell people that you’ve walked the lighthouse track, and that you’ve seen the lighthouse”. This is not a lie, it is a slight omission of truth, but not a lie. The truth is the lighthouse walk is not for the faint hearted. If you don’t think you can climb 300+ stairs, up a 100m hill, catch a taxi or Uber it. You can always walk back down.
Tip #3 Sunset or Sunrise are the best time to go
It depends if you’re an early riser or not but sunrise or sunset are great times to visit the lighthouse. Check out the sunrise/sunset times before you set out. Make sure you take a torch becasue it could be dark on your way there or your way back.
If the sunrise /sunset doesn’t fit into your schedule. You can walk up there any time. But in the warmer months, try walking first thing in the morning or late afternoon, as it can get quite hot. Also take water, wear a hat and sunscreen – sorry if I sound like like your mother, but if I could count the times I’ve seen backpackers walking up their in bikinis, then seeing them the next day all sore and red like lobsters.
Tip #4 Always take the high road
As with everything in life, the Cape Byron Track is best if you take the high road. When you reach the Captain Cook Lookout look right, and you’ll see Lee rd, walk up that rise and you’ll find the trail head that will take you up and over some ancient dunes with littoral rainforest.
If you want to walk up the easiest way, when you’re at Captain Cook Lookout car park, follow the board walk, when the board walk ends, keep following the road. When the road divides, you guessed take the high road and follow the yellow line
Tip #5 Walk anti-clockwise
I find the easiest way to walk the Cape Byron Track is anti-clock-wise. I often see people struggling up the stairs, in full sun on Wategoes hill. If you go anti-clock wise, you walk up the hill with less stairs, often under the shade of trees. Then of course you get to walk down Wategoes hill, with full view of the incredible vistas.
Unless of course you’re, looking for an extra difficult challenge, then I’d suggest going clock wise.
Tip #6 Allow enough time
I often get asked how long it takes to walk around Cape Byron, well it depends, on where you start from and which track you take. The loop walk from Capitan Cook’s Lookout is 3.7km. The loop itself should take between 40-50 minutes, depending on how fast you’re going, which way you go and whether or not you stop to look at the vistas, wildlife.
If you’re walking from town, it also depends on where you’re starting from the Visitor Centre, is 1.7km from the start, allow 20-30 minute to get to Captain Cooks Lookout then 40-50 minutes to do the loop walk, 60-80 minutes in total. If you’re starting from Shirley St, it is 2km from the start, allow 25-35 minutes to get to Captain Cooks Lookout then 40-50 minutes to do the loop walk 65-85 minutes total.
You can also walk along the beach to The Pass, this takes a similar amount of time, depending on the tide.
Tip #7 Stop and look at the vistas and wildlife
The Cape Byron walk has some spectacular vistas, it is well worth stopping and taking it all in. It also gives you an opportunity to rest, if you need it.
There is also abundant wildlife on the walk. I quite often see Swamp Wallaby and dolphins, plus heaps of birds such as brahminy kite, white bellied sea eagle, rainbow lorikeet, noisy friarbird, figbid, lewsins honey eater, eastern whip birds, crested terns to name but a few. But one of the big draw cards is from June-October when we see the humpback whale migration. This year it is estimated 30,000 humpback whales will swim past the cape. It is a great whale watching spot, especially great for people who don’t have good sea legs or stomachs.
Tip #8 Stop for ice cream
There is a cool cafe beside the lighthouse keepers cottage, where you can get yummy ice cream, and let’s face it, you’ve earned it after walking up that massive hill. You can also get, tea, coffee, drinks, yummy cakes and light lunch options. You can also stop for some yummy food at The Pass Cafe , which is on your way back to Byron (if you’re going anti-clockwise).
Tip #9 Go inside the Lighthouse
The lighthouse is open from 10am-4pm most days (it is staffed by very knowledgeable volunteers). There is a very cool museum downstairs that is open most of the time. But they do run tours inside the lighthouse most days (depending on staffing levels), places are limited. So when you get to the lighthouse, go straight inside and get a ticket for the next tour (do that even before you get your ice cream).
Tip #10 Go to the most easterly point
Cape Byron is the most easterly point on Australia’s mainland. You should make sure you go to the sign and get your photo taken.
Make sure you step away after you’ve taken your photos, because chances are, someone else is waiting patiently for you to move so they can take their photo.
If you swim about 12000km from here you will hit the coast of Chile (maybe you’ll come across some islands on the way.)
So there you have it, my top ten tips for doing the Byron Lighthouse walk. Always take the high road, be considerate of others, stop and look at things and listen to your mother. Have you walked it? What are your tips?
Enjoy your journey.