Captain Cook lookout and picnic area
Cape Byron State Conservation Area
Family-friendly Captain Cook lookout and picnic area offers scenic coastal views, golden beaches and walking options in the beautiful Cape Byron State Conservation Area.
- Cape Byron State Conservation Area
- Entry fees
$4 per hour (pay and display machine). Or you can buy an NPWS Annual Pass.
- What to
- Drinking water, hat, sunscreen
- Please note
- Remember to take your binoculars if you want to go birdwatching or whale watching
Captain Cook lookout and picnic area in Cape Byron State Conservation Area provides parking and access to one of Australia's most popular beaches. Under the shadow of the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse, you can step out on the popular Cape Byron walking track, an invigorating 3.7km walk taking in coastal cliffs, rainforest and spectacular beaches.
With loads of parking and easy access to the beach, it’s a family-friendly picnic spot with something for everyone. Head down for a refreshing swim in the crystal clear waters before enjoying a picnic lunch.
Enjoy the reviving coastal breezes and natural beauty of the surrounding headlands, rainforest and beaches. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins frolicking in the waves and be sure to pack your binoculars if you’re visiting during whale watching season.
For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/lookouts/captain-cook-lookout-and-picnic-area/local-alerts
- National Parks Contact Centre
- 7am to 7pm daily
- 1300 072 757 (13000 PARKS) for the cost of a local call within Australia excluding mobiles
- in Cape Byron State Conservation Area in the North Coast region
- Cape Byron State Conservation Area is open all hours, but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.
- Cape Byron Lighthouse precinct is open 8am to sunset.
- The Maritime Museum in the former Lighthouse Keeper’s office at the base of the lighthouse is open 10am to 4pm daily.
- Opening before 8am for events or disabled access can be arranged by prior notice – contact NPWS Byron Bay office during business hours 02 6639 8300.
Park entry fees:
Cape Byron Lighthouse precinct and Information Centre: $8 per vehicle per hour/$4 per hour motorcycles. Maximum 1 hour per vehicle per calendar day, including all NPWS annual passholders.
Captain Cook lookout, Cosy Corner, and The Pass: $4 per vehicle/motorcycle per hour. Pay and display machines - cash and credit cards accepted.
Coach entry: $26 per coach up to 30 seats; $50 per coach 31 to 43 seats; $83 per coach 44 seats and over.Buy annual pass.
All the practical information you need to know about the Captain Cook lookout and picnic area.
Getting there and parking
Get driving directions
On entering Cape Byron State Conservation Area:
- Follow Lawson Street east from Byron Bay until it becomes Lighthouse Road
Park entry points
- Cape Byron State Conservation Area See on map
- Sealed roads
- 2WD vehicles
- All weather
Parking is available at this location, including some designated disabled spots – entry fees apply. It can be a busy place, so parking might be limited.
Best times to visit
There are lots of great things waiting for you in Cape Byron State Conservation Area. Here are some of the highlights.
With the weather being a bit cooler, it's the perfect time of year for walking, barbecues and picnics on the beach.
Summer holidays beckon you – enjoy swimming, snorkelling, surfing, building sandcastles, or relaxing in the shade.
Cape Byron is a great spot to watch for whales on their annual migration - remember to take binoculars.
Weather, temperature and rainfall
22°C and 27°C
15°C and 21°C
The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day
- Flush toilets
Maps and downloads
Disability access level - medium
- Assistance may be required to access this area
A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.
Cape Byron Information Centre
199 Lighthouse Road, Byron Bay NSW 2481
- 9.30am to 4.30pm daily. Closed Christmas Day
- 02 6639 8300
Captain Cook lookout and picnic area is in Cape Byron State Conservation Area. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:
Cape Byron Lighthouse
Perched high above Byron Bay's glorious coastline, historic Cape Byron lighthouse was constructed on this rugged headland in 1901. Its landmark 22m high white tower houses the light that still illuminates the bay of an evening. To find out more about the lighthouse take a tour with an expert guide and be sure to check out the Maritime Museum. In days gone by, lighthouse keepers were responsible for igniting the lighthouse's light of an evening. The keepers have long been replaced by automated light systems; however the Victorian Georgian style cottages in which they lived remain as heritage listed buildings. Today they operate as holiday accommodation, having been carefully restored to offer modern convenience while retaining their historical charm and an insight into the life of a lighthouse keeper.
- Cape Byron Lighthouse: A special place Experience a bird’s eye view from the top of the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse in this Early Stage 1 (Kindergarten) geography excursion. Students will learn about the features of this special place and its significance to people and the community.
- Cape Byron Lighthouse: A special place Experience a bird’s eye view from the top of the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse in this Stage 1 (Years 1-2) geography excursion. Students will learn about the features of the lighthouse and its significance to people and the community.
- Signal on the shore: Australian colonies Join us as we explore the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse on this Stage 3 history excursion. You'll learn about the lighthouse keepers and their families, and discover how these people helped shape the development of Australia’s history.
Keepers of Country
Walgun, as Cape Byron is known by its traditional custodians, maintains spiritual, cultural and historical importance for the Bundjalung of Byron Bay (Arakwal) Aboriginal People. The pipi midden (shell mound) at The Pass is one of the largest and oldest in far north NSW.
- Palm Valley Palm Valley, or ‘The Pass,’ offers well-equipped picnic areas right by the beach, plus a popular café, several walking tracks, and access to the Fishermans lookout.
View from the top
Cape Byron State Conservation Area is part of a significant north-to-south regional corridor for migratory animals, including the fruit dove and cuckoo shrike. Locals you might be lucky enough to spot while touring the area include threatened wallabies and sea eagles. A peaceful walk through the area’s serene littoral rainforest, with plant life; such as laurel trees, white lace flowers and basket ferns, to admire along the way, is sure to further enrich your experience of the Cape Byron area.
- A whale of a time Discover the wonderful world of whales on this Stage 2 (Years 3-4) excursion around Cape Byron headland. This excursion is designed to support the Living World Science and Technology topic content strand.
- Byron tandem hang gliding flights and lessons Try the thrilling sport of hang gliding with a tandem flight over spectacular Cape Byron or nearby Lennox Head. With 40 years’ experience, Byron Airwaves Hang Gliding School is your ticket to the freedom of flight.
- Cape Byron walking track Enjoy spectacular coastal views along the Cape Byron walking track that takes you on a hike through rainforest, beach, grassland and clifftops to the lighthouse.
- Cape Byron: The earth’s environment Join us on an Earth’s environment geography excursion at beautiful Cape Byron for Stage 2 (Years 3-4) students. Students will explore the features of the reserve and learn about people’s differing perceptions of the park and how it is managed.
- Wategos Beach Located just north west of Cape Byron and the lighthouse, Wategos Beach is one of Byron’s best places to picnic, paddle and play.
- Whale secrets Discover whale secrets in a playful mix of drama, games, story and ocean discovery for Stage 1 (Years 1-2) students. This excursion supports the Living World topic of the K-10 Science and Technology syllabus.
- Whale secrets Discover whale secrets in a playful mix of drama, games, story and ocean discovery for Early Stage 1 (Kindergarten) students. This excursion supports the Living World topic of the K-10 Science and Technology syllabus.
Plants and animals you may see
Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)
The curious pelican is Australia’s largest flying bird and has the longest bill of any bird in the world. These Australian birds are found throughout Australian waterways and the pelican uses its throat pouch to trawl for fish. Pelicans breed all year round, congregating in large colonies on secluded beaches and islands.
Australian brush turkey (Alectura lathami)
The Australian brush turkey, also known as bush or scrub turkey, can be found in rainforests along eastern NSW. With a striking red head, blue-black plumage and booming call, these distinctive Australian birds are easy to spot while bird watching in several NSW national parks.
Superb fairy wren (Malurus cyaneus)
The striking blue and black plumage of the adult male superb fairy wren makes for colourful bird watching across south-eastern Australia. The sociable superb fairy wrens, or blue wrens, are Australian birds living in groups consisting of a dominant male, mouse-brown female ‘jenny wrens’ and several tawny-brown juveniles.
Wonga wonga vine (Pandorea pandorana)
The wonga wonga vine is a widespread vigorous climber usually found along eastern Australia. A variation of the plant occurs in the central desert, where it resembles a sprawling shrub. One of the more common Australian native plants, the wonga wonga vine produces bell-shaped white or yellow flowers in the spring, followed by a large oblong-shaped seed pod.
Cabbage palm (Livistona australis)
With glossy green leaves spanning 3-4m in length and a trunk reaching a height of up to 30m, the cabbage tree palm, or fan palm, is one of the tallest Australian native plants. Thriving in rainforest margins along the east coast of NSW, in summer this giant palm produces striking spikes of cream flowers which resemble cabbages.