This beach on the southern side of Ballina Head is a popular place for the locals to cool off in summer or surf year round.
Lighthouse Beach stretches out between Ballina Head and the northern “training wall,” the man-made breakwater that marks the mouth of the Richmond River. The beach is backed by residential streets, with a grassy reserve between the road and beach.
The beach is about 2,300 feet (700 meters) long. This stretch of sand only developed when the adjacent Richmond River entrance walls were built in the early 1900s. What was formerly Shaws Bay naturally filled up with sand and Lighthouse Beach was born.
If you are visiting in summer, explore the beach in the early morning before the crowds arrive and sunbathing becomes impossible due to the heat. The sunrise views from the beach are ever-changing, but always magical. Stick your toes in the sand and breathe in the salty sea air, while listening to the sounds of the waves and the seabirds. Dolphins visit the beach regularly and migrating humpback whales can be spotted offshore between June and October as well.
To cool off after a long walk, dip in the clear South Pacific waters. Swimming can be treacherous here though, even if you are used to ocean swimming, because of a few permanent tide rips and strong currents. One rip runs out against Ballina Head and has been nicknamed the “Shelly Beach express” because it can drag you out there in no time. Avoid going near the seawalls at all times.
Lighthouse Beach is monitored by surf life savers during the busier weekends and holidays, with a set of flags indicating where it is safe to swim. A great alternative for families is the ocean pool at Shelly Beach, which provides a safe beach environment for children.
Or how about a spot of surfing? Lighthouse often gets good breaks on the outer bar and inside the north entrance wall. This wall is also a popular fishing spot, because it allows you to fish both the ocean and the river mouth. Another popular activity here is windsurfing.
Lighthouse Beach is located in East Ballina. You can park by the surf club situated under Ballina Head or in the car park by the river entrance wall. The surf club has a kiosk and there is also a café farther along Lighthouse Beach.