Byron Bay Beaches – Are They Safe for Summer?


Despite their stunning beauty, many of you may be wondering about Byron Bay beaches and safety in the lead up to summer school holidays NSW in the wake of the increase in shark attacks along our coastline this year.

Recently awarded ‘Winner of the Best Beachside Town’ by Australian Traveller People’s Choice, and with Ballina Byron Gateway Airport experiencing record numbers, Byron Bay weather is hotting up for summer and there’s no doubt that many of you, whether living here or on holiday in Byron will be heading down to the beach for some fun in the sun!

With this is mind, I have done the research for you and put together clear information primarily sourced from the DPI  (Department of Primary Industries) to ease your concerns and enable you and your family to make the most of your summer at both Byron Bay and Ballina’s beaches.

The NSW Shark Summit held in September 2015 is at the forefront of a campaign to use the latest deterrent technology alongside current shark behaviour to pinpoint the best way forward in boosting protection against shark attacks.

and the outcome?

Further to this summit, the NSW Government is currently fast-tracking the rollout of its world-first $16 million shark deterrent strategy.  $250,000 has been allocated to a targeted campaign to help reduce the risk of further attacks along the NSW North Coast.

This includes;

  • North Coast Local Waters shark tagging project led by DPI’s internationally respected shark biologist Dr Vic Peddemors
  • Additional DPI Fisheries staff carrying out increased on-water surveillance between Ballina and Evans Head
  • Use of DPI Fisheries boats to assess local conditions that will inform research about bait fish, water temperature trends and shark behaviour
  • A public education and awareness blitz in collaboration with NSW Surf Life Saving Clubs
  • Fast-tracked funding for new lookout towers from the Towers Grant Program

and what does this mean for our beaches?

Byron Bay Beaches

Byron Bay Beaches

PatrolledMain Beach, Belongil Beach, Clarkes Beach, The Pass, Wategos, Tallows, Broken Head

As part of the shark management strategy, Clarkes Beach has been fast-tracked the delivery of a 4G listening station to provide real-time tracking data of tagged sharks.

Furthermore, the NSW Government has increased aerial helicopter surveillance on the North Coast. From 1 December to 26 January 2016, weather permitting, helicopters will fly from Byron Bay to Evans Head twice daily.

In order to maintain the biodiversity of Cape Byron Marine Park, smart drum lines will NOT be trialled in Byron Bay waters.

Ballina Beaches

PatrolledLennox Head, Sharpes, Shelly, Lighthouse

Unpatrolled – Seven Mile (excluding Lennox Head), Angels, Boulders, Flat Rock, South Ballina

 Ballina Patrolled Beaches

As part of the shark management strategy, Sharpes Beach in Ballina has also been fast-tracked the delivery of a 4G listening station to provide real-time tracking data of tagged sharks.

Ballina Beaches will also be covered by the increased aerial helicopter surveillance on the North Coast where, weather permitting, helicopters will fly from Byron Bay over the Ballina coastline to Evans Head twice daily from 1 December to 26 January 2016.

In addition, Ballina will also be the first site to trial ‘smart drum lines’ as a measure to better protect both surfers and swimmers over summer.

Ballina Shire Council have also taken the initiative to improve the beach information provided to the public by developing MyBeachInfo website with a mobile app becoming available in the near future.  My Beach Info Logo

It consists of a map of the coastline that displays icons of beach openings, closures and cautions. When a decision has been made by local authorities to open or close a beach, updates will be made to the website.

The roll out of the latest shark mitigation and deterrent technology in Byron Bay and Ballina is part of an extensive trial. The challenge and ultimate goal being  to create a combined and effective long-term solution to protect ocean users while at the same time, considering the importance of our ecological footprint and striving for a balance with marine biodiversity.

So what can you do to reduce the risk of a shark encounter?

As part of their education and awareness blitz on water safety at the beach in the lead up to school holidays NSW; below are the SHARK SMART TIPS being rolled out by the DPI to the public:

Byron4Kids Shark Smart App Information


Want to know WHICH BEACHES ARE PATROLLED AND WHEN in Byron Bay and Ballina?

To keep your family safe this summer, head to:  Byron4Kids – Byron Bay and Ballina Beach Guide

Bullet points of essential information are listed next to each beach and if you click on a particular beach – eg Main Beach, Byron Bay you’ll find an informative article containing handy-to-know details such as nearby amenities, stroller friendly pathways, which are the dog beaches or if you can grab a snack close by. There’s also some useful photos to help you make your decision!

Things to do in Byron Bay School Holiday Activity Guide