Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
Wategos Beach (NSW 14) is a popular, picturesque beach up to 600 m in length and backed by an amphitheatre shaped valley near the tip of Cape Byron. The valley was settled in the mid-1930s by the Watego family who grew bananas and vegetables where houses now stand. The road from Byron Bay runs right to the back of the beach where there is limited parking along the back of the beach and a small park at the northern end. The 4 km long Cape Byron Walking Track runs along the rear of the beach.
Owing to the passage of sand waves round the Cape, the beach and surf zone can be narrow in some years with rocks and a boulder beach exposed, and up to 100 m wide the next. The waves that refract around Cape Byron produce usually wide shallow surf zone that breaks over the attached bar, with a broader bar and trough occurring offshore when the sand waves are present.
Little Wategos (NSW 15) is Australia's easternmost beach, situated just inside the eastern tip of 100 m high Cape Byron and just 150 m in length. The beach can only be reached on foot and consequently is not as popular with adjoining Wategos. However if you are walking round to Little Wategos, or down the steep track from the lighthouse, don't be fooled by it attractive setting and usually low waves. The beach and surf, like Wategos undergo major changes as sand moving around Cape Byron and accumulates before moving on toward The Pass. This sand normally forms an attached bar of variable width. The waves however tend to run along the shore producing at time a strong northward current. Also do not swim out toward the Cape, not only are there rocks present, but even on a calm day strong ocean currents can sweep south past the Cape. It can be particularly hazardous if you diving off the Cape.
Wategos is relatively safe beach patrolled in summer, but still stay close inshore as currents and holes can lie off the beach and bar. Be careful near the Cape where strong ocean currents can occur on even calm days.
Waves usually break gradually, spilling over the wide sand bar and patchy reef, producing a friendlier surf suitable for long boards and learners. Highly variable depending on wave and bar conditions
Wategos usually has a shallow sandy bed that is fished for flathead and whiting. The Lookout around the rocks on the northern side is protected in southerly weather. Eddies from the East Australia Current can come right into The Cape bringing tropical fish, however the rocks are steep and dangerous.
The Cape Byron Lighthouse is Australia's easternmost structure, and provides spectacular views, while the Cape itself is composed of 400 million year old metamorphic rocks.
- Formal parking area