Outsiders Club

The History of Surfing in the Byron Shire Region

13 May 2023
5 minutes

If your idea of holiday heaven is surfing from dusk to dawn, then Byron Shire on the NSW Far North Coast is a must-do. And it’s an area that’s played a vital role in the history of surfing in Australia.

History of Surfing in Byron Bay


Surfing (as we know it today) was brought to Australia in the mid 1910s by Hawaiian Duke Khanamoku. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that a distinct subculture developed; one heavily influenced by American surfing trends.

We’re talking the original ‘surfies’, complete with peroxide hair and deep suntans. Their soundtrack was iconic surf music, and their conversations littered with California jargon (e.g. cowabunga!).

And their nomadic lifestyle was all part of the fun. They simply strapped their boards on top of their cars and vans and drove along the NSW coast, keeping an eye out for the best places to surf.

And when they found Byron Bay ... well, it’s little wonder they stopped.

The welcoming hippy lifestyle and beautiful natural environment were the perfect backdrop to those endless surf beaches and the fun, free-spirited lifestyle of the surfie.

So it was in the 1960s and 70s that Byron Bay became synonymous with surfing. And the surfers have been coming ever since.


Top surf spots in Byron Bay

With its warm water, consistent swells and groomed sandbanks, Byron Bay is now one of most iconic places in the world to surf. It also offers nine outstanding surf beaches.

From ‘The Wreck’ which is great for beginners, to ‘The Pass’, ‘Wategos’ and ‘Belongil Beach’, you’re spoilt for choice in this lovely part of the world.

And you’ll be in good company too. Some of the world’s best pros call Byron Bay home. Even legendary surfboard maker (or ‘shaper’) Bob McTavish has been here since the 1960s.

Bob and Nat Young were responsible for the ‘short-board revolution’; cutting down longboards to create new manoeuvrable boards. A way of surfing that completely transformed the industry.

But there’s more to surfing in the Shire than Byron Bay.

Strap the boards on top and drive north to surf beaches such as North Brunswick, South Brunswick and New Brighton Beach. Or go south for great surfing at Suffolk Park, Broken Head (both North and South), Kings Beach, New Brighton Beach and Golden Beach.


Sound fun? Time to gather the crew and organise your next surfing trip. And we’ve got your accommodation needs covered.

Reflections Byron Bay is just 10 minutes’ walk from the heart of Byron Bay. Or for the excellent surf beaches of Brunswick Heads, stay in our Ferry Reserve, Massey Greene or Terrace Reserve holiday parks. Find more fantastic things to do in the Byron region here

See you on the next wave!