Hooray for Byron Bay! This quintessential Australian beach on the southeastern coast of New South Wales is all that and more if you are after a laid back but luscious lifestyle combined with a bohemian vibe. With her chilled out locals and an exotic array of international backpackers and wanderlust seekers, this tiny piece of beach heaven draws you into her soul and is only a 2 hour drive from Brisbane or an easy 1 hour drive from her high rise glitzy neighbour, the Gold Coast.
Cute and quaint with colonial style buildings, shops, pubs, restaurants and bars and of course a golden beach which stretches to beyond where the eye can see, this famous spot well known to celebrities from around the globe and a bucket list highlight for many tourists, is just ‘up the road’ really from my home town and I’m one helluva lucky girl to be able to trek there at any time of the year!
Whether it’s a day trip, weekend vacay or ‘staycay’ or a long, much needed holiday that you’re after, this naturally beautiful little slice of Australia has much to offer. Nut brown bodied nordic folk, surfers and dreadlocked dudes and dudettes roam freely and happily down the main streets or are scattered, lounging lazily like sun drenched lizards on the grassy dunes or the white squeaky beach sand. Everyone is smiling and relaxed and there is a distinct and genuine ‘happy and spiritual’ feel to the area and a real sense of community here, which is lovely. Even the shopkeepers are there to please you and have a chat and no one feels rushed or pressured. No wonder this is a haven for yogis, wealthy retirees and Europeans with working visas all hankering after the ultimate cool hood! I would live there too if I had half the chance… who wouldn’t?
Accommodation is easily found for all types of holidays, be it hotels, hostels, apartments or homes but be warned, prices can be quite eye watering at peak times of the year of course. Why not go all wicked and wild and hire a camper van to park near the beach or even rent a cabin in one of the many caravan and camping sites! Next time for us maybe, but this visit saw MB and I staying two glorious nights at the iconic and centrally located Beach Hotel (beachhotel.com.au) in the ❤ of Byron Bay. With a balcony overlooking the glorious main beach, a small in ground rock pool and a huge, comfortable room, we were not disappointed. The pub attached to the hotel is famous in its own right and offers fabulous and casual meals and drinks available day and night all delivered with upbeat and friendly service and a view to die for! What more could one desire?
View from our room
Byron’s Main Beach is long and wide and finding your own patch of sand is never a question. No squashing together like sardines here! The tourists must be gob smacked at all the space! The ocean is surf and hard waves so watch out if you’re not a swimmer. Saying this however, red suited supermodel/ Baywatch babe lifesavers are on hand till late afternoon everyday so you are always in ultra safe, strong Australian hands. Just be sure to ‘stay between the flags’ at all times! Tallow Beach, Belongil Beach, Clarkes Beach and Wategos Beach are the other popular swimming and surfing spots. Post card perfect and picturesque, they are all just a leisurely stroll from each other. None are crowded and all are the epitome of unblemished nature at her finest.
View from Cape Byron
Apart from soaking up the sun’s rays and perfecting your golden tan, there are many things to do here in this little area. Take the famous Byron Bay Lighthouse for example. Said to be Australia’s most powerful and built in 1901, this striking white structure is set on a rocky point in Cape Byron, which is the most easterly point of Australia and just up from sexy Wategos Beach. With breathtaking views of Cape Byron and the bay, spectacular sunsets and also a top spot for whale and dolphin watching when in season, this is the best stop for that ultimate photo! The walk there from the town centre is just over 4 kms round trip following the Cape Byron Walking Track and is a great excuse to move your body and feel slightly healthy all whilst discovering the National Park and other places like Fishermans Lookout along the way.
For more of an adrenaline rush or just a bit of adventure, try a guided Kayak Tour around the Cape or if you’re brave enough, enrol in a Surf lesson …I wasn’t! (No need to see a half drowned rat being pulled form the waves by muscular Aussie lifesavers …tempting as it may sound… with a surfboard wrapped around her head! ) No… I would rather locate my internal Zen by indulging in a bit of calm and peaceful Yoga, or fossicking amongst the funky shops downtown! Awesome little original boutiques and shops are everywhere in Byron Bay and it would be just rude not to buy even just one tiny treasure from the smorgasbord of stores that are around every corner! Beach babe bliss!
Now for food, the choices here are endless. No matter your palette preference or budget, there is everything from fine dining – think Rae’s @ Watego Bay to ‘late night walk of shame’ kebab shops, even operated by authentic Turkish people! MB and I dined at the very new Bang Bang modern Thai restaurant on night one. It was fabulous. Chic and groovy all at once with a rockin’ French Dj, the food was spicy and on pointe and worth the wait ( as it was busy), with great service and an electric atmosphere to match. Night two had us savouring the delights of The Balcony, a well respected balcony bistro that has been there forever and the roast shoulder of local lamb was a treat! For a night cap, head across the road and upstairs to The Loft, a new kid on the block in Byron which makes the best Espresso Martinis in town. For more of a grunge/local feel, try out the Great Northern Hotel in the main street for a beer and a boogie or relax beachside at the Bay Hotel. There are so many fantastic eating houses around and this is just the tip of the iceberg, but we could not sample them all unfortunately!
Delicious local Lamb Shoulder
Day trips around Byron are a fab idea too as there are many wonderful, quaint little towns to explore on a rainy or sunny day! Bangalow, a small Australian, colonial inland village renowned for its famous organic pork (do yourself a culinary favour whilst you’re there and buy some); Ballina, the original old town; Brunswick Heads – the laid back beach town/ little sister of Byron Bay; the ultra hippy, rainbow coloured harem pant hubs of Nimbin and Mullumbimby and Lismore, Lennox Head and Yamba are all just a wonderful scenic drive away, either along the winding coastal road or inland past lush green, cow filled pastures.
Quirky Brunswick Heads
Before you sadly depart this mini heaven on earth, check out some of the local markets! Thursday in Byron Bay offers the small 8-11am Local Farmers Market (near the railway) and is perfect for fruit and vegetables, cheese and of course pork and lamb. Bangalow Farmers Market is every Saturday, Mullumbimby is on Friday’s and the Byron Flea Markets ( just imagine what undiscovered delights you could find here) are held every second Saturday of the month, just to name a few!
Bus @ the Farmers Markets
The ultimate time of the day in Byron Bay is early morning. What could possibly beat a croissant and a coffee on the beach made with a wink and a warm smile by a local laid back, blond bronzed barista, whilst watching the soft morning waves roll in and feeling the suns light rays stroke your back. Diving into the cold surf and feeling the salt dry on your skin is the best wake up call you can get and I honestly hope that, one day, YOU will get to experience this moment too. It is one of life’s simple pleasures and that in my mind is called Perfection.
…”May every sunrise hold more promise and every sunset hold more peace”… Anon