Down Under to Coffs Harbour

Down Under to Coffs Harbour

Is Coffs Harbor worth a visit? This is a question I haven’t thought about in a while, but I’ve been thinking about it for some time because Australia is preparing to open its border to international travel in the wake of the Covid-19.

Many years ago, when I traveled the NSW coast and Queensland on the Greyhound bus, I wasn’t sure if I should stop at Coffs Harbor. The prevailing wisdom was that Coffs Harbor, while beautiful, was more of a destination for the elderly.

Someone like you (and, apparently, cool) like me, would actually like to be further north on the coast, in Byron Bay. I’ll discuss the extent to which this turned out to be true, and I will do some other RE: Coffs vs Byron ideas, in the next few paragraphs.

Down Under to Coffs Harbour

Why I visited Coffs Harbor

Before traveling from Coffs Harbor to Byron Bay, I actually decided to stop by Coffs for a few days, and for some pretty funny reason. See, ever since I saw the Lonely Planet Australia cover that came out at the time, I wanted to see kangaroos on the beach. A quick internet search told me I could see them at Emerald Beach, not far from Coffs’ Big Banana.

It turns out that the search was a bit too quick. While technically I saw ‘roos right in front of the sea, the high grass covered cliff they were hanging around didn’t really get me the shot I was hoping for. Also, I looked goofy and weird in all the photos I took with them which is why I absolutely refuse to share them here.

Down Under to Coffs Harbour

Comparison of Coffs Harbor vs. Byron Bay


Byron Bay’s aptly named Seven Mile Beach, which is visible from Australia’s most easterly point, is hard to beat in terms of magnificence. However, Diggers Beach in Coffs Harbor (which is admittedly a bit of a downtown hike, especially if you don’t have your own set of wheels) is fabulous in its own way, especially in terms of hiking through the jungle. to succeed.


Due to its greater ubiquity as a general travel destination, Byron Bay certainly has a better selection of accommodation than Coffs, from the high end. Byron Bay waves to the Backpackers hostel hotel. On the other hand, you can easily find affordable accommodation in Coffs Harbor, be it Coastal Bay Motel or any number of Airbnb properties.

Catering and nightlife

As with hotels, Byron has a greater choice of restaurants and bars than Coffs, both in terms of cuisine types and numbers. That being said, you can eat well in both places, especially if you don’t mind a simple cafe burger or Asian cuisines like Thai or Vietnamese.


It might seem odd to talk about culture on the Australian coast, especially in areas without a large indigenous presence, that’s fair enough. While most “cultures” in Byron focus on the beach and the aging (increasingly) hippie vibe that dominates the downtown area, my most memorable cultural experience in Coffs Harbor has been (sort of) learn to surf at East Coast Surf School.

Day trips

Probably the most popular day trip from Byron Bay is Nimbin, a small town where all drugs are supposedly legal, and which leans quite dramatically on the hippie vibe you find in town. From Coffs, on the other hand, the most amazing place you can visit is Point Lookout, a scenic vantage point accessed via a short hike through the rainforests of New England National Park.

Down Under to Coffs Harbour

Down Under to Coffs Harbour

Down Under to Coffs Harbour

Down Under to Coffs Harbour

Is Byron Bay worth a visit?

If you end up visiting Coffs I would say you better go before visiting Byron. If you are traveling from Byron Bay to Coffs Harbor (that is, you start somewhere more popular and easy to love, and then follow up with something that takes more time and intention to figure out), you are almost guaranteed to be disappointed. And what about Byron Bay itself?

Well, on the one hand, there is the hype. In addition to Byron Bay’s generally stellar reputation, an acquaintance of mine grew up there. Although Byron Bay has a quirky downtown, beautiful beaches, and a great vibe, it hasn’t changed my life. I don’t feel a strong urge to go back there, even though I technically had room on my last trip to Sydney to make such an excursion, if I had wanted to do it.

Other FAQs on visiting Australia’s Central Coast

Which is better, Byron Bay or Coffs Harbor?

Byron Bay is more famous than Coffs Harbor and easier to love immediately, but these two seaside towns have their merits. Ideally, you would spend at least a night or two in each one so that you can make this comparison yourself, depending on your own preferences.

How many days do you need in Coffs Harbor?

Considering that Coffs Harbor spans a relatively large geographic area and it takes time to reach the north and south points, I would recommend spending no less than two nights in Coffs Harbor. This will allow you a day to enjoy its stunning beaches, as well as a day to hike in the interior rainforests, see kangaroos or learn to surf.

Is Coffs Harbor beautiful?

Coffs Harbor is of course magnificent, whether it is its long golden beaches or the tropical rainforests which line the mountains which then rise in emerald and chartreuse. On the other hand, it doesn’t have the intense and striking beauty of the Australian Red Center, or even the Great Ocean Road near Melbourne.

The bottom line

Is Coffs Harbor worth a visit? I would say yes, but on condition. Namely, if you have time to hike up the NSW coast and have a few things on your agenda in Coffs as well, I would say it’s worth stopping by. On the other hand, if you’re just curious about what to do in Coffs, but have a deeper interest in visiting Byron (nothing wrong with that!), I might suggest you skip Coffs, especially if you’re short on time.

Robert schrader

Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who has traveled the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as “CNNGo” and “Shanghaiist” along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, offers a mix of travel tips, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of traveler’s life.

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