North Coast, NSW

Five less-busy destinations on the NSW North Coast

By Rosie Stevens

September 11, 2020 | 4 minute read

Cabarita beach
Cabarita beach

Google search a trip to the NSW North Coast and you’ll be inundated for recommendations for Byron Bay, Byron Bay, and Byron Bay, with potentially a drive-by of Coffs Harbours’ Big Banana if you’re lucky.

While Byron is considered a stunning stalwart of the area, there really is so much more to discover along the beautiful North Coast, without the sometimes overwhelming busy-ness of the Bay (and way less tourists to boot.)

Here’s where to consider next time you're planning a trip on the North Coast of NSW. 

Brunswick Heads

Just 15 minutes outside of Byron but offering a completely different feel, Brunswick Heads is a gorgeous, unspoilt coastal village that brings its visitors back to the simple things in life. Fishing, surfing and whiling away the day on the beach is what a trip to Brunswick Heads is all about—and you might even spot a whale or dolphin while you’re at it.  

While its all about tranquility and seaside charm, you’ll be pleased to know that there are also plenty of places to stay and plenty of restaurants—including one of NSW’s top-rated regional restaurants, Fleet. Brunswick Hotel is another must-visit, and there’s plenty of casual cafes for your morning brew. There are also a range of accommodation options; holiday parks, hotels, motels and campgrounds, depending on your needs.  

Jacaranda in Spring
Jacaranda in Spring


Although not situated on the coast, Grafton still has a water vibe due to its location on the banks of the Clarence River. Bursting with Victorian and Edwardian architecture and history, this regional town offers elegance and classic country charm and is one big Heritage Trail

A walking tour is a wonderful way to really soak up the history of the place. Grafton Gaol and Christ Church Cathedral are great starting places, and the Grafton Regional Gallery is well-worth checking out; it exists as a huge cultural drawcard to the town, providing a compelling and ever-changing program of exhibitions, events and education programs.  

The town is also known as the jacaranda city, thanks to spectacular Spring scenes turning Grafton purple—and the iconic Jacaranda festival that’s held at the end of October, which attracts visitors from around the world. The beautiful Nymboia National Park is also on Grafton’s doorstep—a breathtaking example of the region’s stunning rainforest scenery.  

Evans Head

Just north of Yamba lies a true slice of unspoilt Aussie paradise—tranquil beaches that stretch for miles and a charming town that’s perfect for those looking to switch off and escape. Surrounded by national parks, water sports are a way of life here—making it the perfect place to try your hand at some kayaking, stand up paddle boarding or canoeing.

The Evans Head Living Museum tells an interesting tale about the region’s military heritage and is well worth exploring, meanwhile there are plenty of places to stay in the area, from campgrounds and holiday parks to cabins and hotels.

Evans Head
Evans Head


Slightly better known than some of our other recommendations but definitely worth a visit, the beautiful surfing and fishing village of Kingscliff is situated right at the NSW/Queensland border and is quickly emerging as one of the state’s best coastal getaways.

Thanks to its position on one of the country’s most picturesque coastlines, Kingscliff is perfect for those that love spending time in nature; surfing, fishing, walking, snorkelling, stand up paddle boarding and more. It’s also another hotspot for dolphins and whales, and the vantage point of Fingal Head is a must-visit, where you have an excellent chance of seeing dolphins every single day. What a find!

Cabarita Beach

Named Australia's Best Beach for 2020, Cabarita Beach has a stunning nature reserve to the north and west and the beautiful Pacific Ocean to the east. Yet this small coastal village offers as relaxed and beachy a lifestyle as they come.

Well-known for its excellent surf, whale-watching and fishing opportunities—if you’re into spending a lot of time outside, you need look no further. The slow pace of life makes it perfect for soaking up the great outdoors with family.

For eats, the Cabarita Beach Hotel is a mainstay of the town, while in nearly Casuarina, cafe Tucker and new pizza joint Jordy’s Casuarina really deliver the goods. The ultra-luxurious Halycon House is one of Australia’s most unique 5-star boutique hotels, which also boasts hatted restaurant Paper Daisy onsite. What more could you want!

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