Byron Bay isn’t all perfect beaches and dreamy point breaks ya know? Freshwater swimming holes and plunging waterfalls dot the surrounding Byron hinterlands and coastline. These are our favourite swim spots to cool off in near Byron Bay.
1. Killen Falls
Time from Byron: 30 mins
Situated in the Byron Hinterland, Killen Falls is a 10 metre waterfall that plunges into a swimming hole surrounded by rainforest, rugged cliff edges, with a cave eroded away behind the falls. Paradise, right?
From the car park, it’s just a short 600m walk to the lookout on a track that winds along a creek and through lush foliage before entering onto a platform overlooking the waterfall and swimming hole.
It’s about a 1km hike to the base of the falls, with the final five minutes becoming a little slippery and steep. The trail’s a little uneven, but not too difficult to navigate.
Killen Falls is a refreshing place to cool down, but be aware there are deep sections as well as submerged rocks beneath the water’s surface. You can also scramble over to the cave and sit behind the waterfall without getting wet!
Pack a picnic and spend some time relaxing on the rocks. It’s best to go in the early morning to try and avoid the crowds.
2. Lake Ainsworth
Location: Lennox Head
Time from Byron: 30 min
Lake Ainsworth doesn’t sparkle crystal blue in the sun – in fact, it’s stained slightly brown – but don’t let that stop you from entering its waters. This is a tea tree lake, coloured by the drip, drip, drip of tea tree oil into the water by the surrounding trees. It smells delicious and will do wonders to revitalise your skin after all that salty water.
You’ll find Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head, only 100 metres from the dunes of 7 Mile Beach. There are picnic tables, BBQs, and walking paths nearby, and the lake’s perfect for a SUP session or a paddle in the kayak.
3. Minyon Falls
Location: Nightcap National Park
Time from Byron: 45 min
With water plunging around 100 metres to splash into the freshwater pool below, Minyon Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the Byron area. The water gushes over ancient solidified lava flows that used to make up part of the Tweed Volcano, and tumbles down to the palm-shrouded gorge and swimming hole below.
The view from Minyon Falls lookout at the top of the falls extends for miles, reaching the coastline on a clear day.
The 13km loop Minyon Falls walking track takes you down, down to the base of the falls where you can slip in for a dip. There’s also a picnic area here, with BBQs and picnic tables, so it’s easy to spend the day. Just know, it’s a steep trek back up to the car.
4. Tyagarah Lake
Location: Tyagarah Nature Reserve
Time from Byron: 25 min
Another tea tree lake in Byron, Tyagarah Lake is a little further out of the way, meaning it’s less likely you’ll have to share the banks and calming waters.
There’s a path that circles around the lake if you’re up for a stroll, otherwise just bliss out by the water’s edge and wade around in the calming and rejuvenating water.
5. Protestors Falls
Location: Nightcap National Park
Time from Byron: 1hr 15min
Getting to Protestors Falls is a bit of a road trip in itself, but with the luscious Nightcap National Park to explore, the drive is well worth it. The falls got its name from the first successful anti-logging protest in 1979 that saved much of the surrounding old regrowth rainforest. Hell yeah.
If you’re looking for a place to cool off, unfortunately, Protesters Falls isn’t it. Swimming is restricted here in an effort to help look after the Fleay’s barred frog, but you can always wander through the rainforest and stare up at the towering Strangler figs on the 1.4km Protestors Falls walking track which will land you at the base of the falls.
6. Marom Falls
Time from Byron: 50 min
Marom Falls (aka Marom Creek Falls) is a perfect little waterfall, flowing over a sheer rock face into an expansive swimming hole. The waterfall’s actually situated on private property, but lucky for us, the owners are happy to let the public make use of this gorgeous piece of nature.
If you weren’t keen on a dip, the 15 minute trek through an open, sunny paddock will change your mind. Alternatively you can take the 5 minute walk to the top of the falls and jump in, and save yourself 10 minutes walking time.
At both the top and base of the falls there are plenty of big flat rocks to make like a lizard on, so you can warm up again before your next submersion.
7. Bexhill Quarry
Time from Byron: 40 min
The mesmerising cobalt blue waters of Bexhill Quarry are enough in themselves to warrant a trip out here, which is lucky because swimming in the water is probably bad for your health.
Located at the site of the old Bexhill Brick Works, copper sulfate from the quarry is what gives the water its surreal colour, but is what also severely increases the acidity of the water, making it harmful to swim in.
Swim here at your own risk!
Feature photo by @patsuraseang