HEY THERE, BYRON BAY
Travellers from all walks of life have seen the (first) light of day in this funky town
Spectacular beaches, toocool-for-school eateries, Zen-inducing spas, jawdropping scenery and perfect waves – it’s little wonder that Byron Bay is on the radar for local and international travellers alike.
Positioned on the northern NSW coast, an hour’s drive south of the Queensland border, the perfectly situated town has been a go-to for surfers and counterculture types since the ’60s, but these days it’s not only surf hounds and hippies who are flocking in their droves. Thanks to a hefty cash injection from tree-changing city slickers, this formerly humble slice of paradise has transformed into a destination for demanding holiday-makers. Yep, these days, visitors can swim in crystalclear seas, hike in pristine hinterland and take in the natural beauty, all the while enjoying worldclass fine dining, fancy resorts and expertly made coffee. Add to this a friendly, free-spirited population and a perennial summer ambience and you have a recipe for holiday heaven.
Whether you only have 24 hours to spare or a week, read on for how to make the most of your stay in Byron Bay.
WHERE CAN I BE A BEACH BUM?
Given the year-round sunshine and subtropical climate, no visit to Byron is complete without daily swims, and happily the area is home to some of the state’s best stretches of sand.
Firstly, head to the aptly named Main Beach. In the thick of the action, this is the closest to town and the most popular. Come here at sunset and you’ll see crowds of backpackers taking in the beautiful display to a soundtrack of bongo drummers. Another go-to is Wategos Beach. Sitting below Cape Byron, this is a great all-rounder being sheltered, family-friendly and with excellent facilities, including picnic tables, barbecues and toilets.
HOW ABOUT CATCHING THE BEST BREAK?
One of the world’s most iconic places to surf, whether pro, beginner, or fairweather surfer, there’s a break in Byron for everyone. The Pass, between Wategos and Clarks beaches, is known globally in the surfing community due to its long, consistent, right-hand break that caters to most abilities. As an added bonus, celebrity resident Chris Hemsworth is a regular here, so you may find yourself sharing surf space with Thor.
WHAT CAN’T I MISS?
Viewing a breathtaking sunrise at Australia’s most easterly point. The 4km coastal walk that leads to the famed Cape Byron Lighthouse is special at any time, but for serious bragging rights time your visit with dawn. A mere 200m from the lighthouse lies Australia’s most easterly point, which means you’ll be the first in the country to see sunrise.
Afterwards, stroll along the clifftop walk taking in the surrounding beaches and wildlife. Time your visit right and you’ll even be able to see humpback whales during their annual migration. NATIONALPARKS.NSW.GOV.AU
WHERE SHOULD I CHECK IN?
There’s ample accommodation options, both in and surrounding Byron, from self-catering cabins and resorts, to Airbnb and camping, but one of the best is also one of the longest established. Set within a lush, 18ha rainforest five minutes from the town centre, The Byron at Byron Resort is an oldie but a goodie.
Accommodation comprises 92 airconditioned suites, all nestled among the forest and accessed via wooden boardwalks positioned over the undergrowth. Wake in a forest canopy to the sound of the nearby ocean (Tallow Beach is a short walk away) before making your way to the Instagram-worthy infinity pool. Flanked by cosy sun loungers and a sauna, guests can also partake in complimentary daily poolside yoga classes. And if that’s not enough to garner some Zen, the range of indulgent treatments at the in-house spa will. THEBYRONATBYRON.COM.AU
HOW ABOUT DINNER HOT PICKS?
For dinner with a view, make a reservation at Beach Byron Bay. Located smack bang on the beach with unsurpassed ocean views, diners can eat while watching dolphins frolicking and surfers carving it up. Food-wise, you can’t go past the seafood with freshly shucked oysters, white anchovies, fish ceviche and grilled king prawns taking a starring role on the menu, alongside dishes that use organic local produce, whether it be tomatoes from nearby Coopers Shoot, or mozzarella from Byron. Guaranteed to make your soul and your stomach sing.
In the thick of the action a few metres back from Byron’s Main Beach Balcony Bar & Oyster Co overlooks the hustle and bustle of the town’s main thoroughfare. Do your best to score a seat on the outdoor veranda, where the expansive deck is the perfect place to people-watch and soak in a balmy Byron evening.
Under new management for the past two years, the venue channels a seaside vibe with tropical palms and whitewashed walls.
Wednesdays’ $1 oyster happy hour are a must for penny-pinchers. BEACHBYRONBAY.COM.AU BALCONY.COM.AU
AND FOR BRUNCH?
For a top-notch brunch guaranteed to satisfy even the most picky of big city foodies, head to the Three Blue Ducks at The Farm.
An outlet of the famed Sydney dining hotspot that has been pulling in hungry crowds for the best part of a decade, the Ducks have extended their culinary prowess further north to this working 32ha farm. THEFARMBYRONBAY.COM.AU
WHERE CAN I SINK A FEW COCKTAILS?
A piece of Melbourne in Byron, the
WITH WORLD-CLASS FINE DINING AND A PERENNIAL SUMMER AMBIENCE YOU HAVE HOLIDAY HEAVEN
Bolt Hole is the town’s coolest new watering hole. Entered via a reclaimed church door, the cosy, vintage-inspired bar is a mix of recycled furniture and antiques. While it fits the “small bar” description, Bolt Hole’s tome of a drinks list belies its size – more than 200 whiskies and gins, local and imported craft beers, plus a menu of signature cocktails that just begs to be worked through. THEBOLTHOLE.COM.AU
CAN I GET MY RETAIL FIX HERE?
While there’s an array of boutique shops peppering the town, save your pennies for market day. Byron Bay (and its surrounding hinterland) are famous for markets and while there are many, the biggest is the Byron Community Market running on the first Sunday of each month. Stalls span the gamut, including handicrafts, jewellery, organic skincare, candles, clothing and antiques. For produce-hungry locals and visitors, the weekly Byron Farmers Market on Thursday mornings are a must. BYRONCENTRE.COM.AU BYRONFARMERSMARKET.COM.AU
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Byron Bay has two airports within easy reach – Ballina, 30 minutes south, and the Gold Coast just under an hour north. Combined, all major domestic airlines are covered and there’s ample flights daily. Shuttle buses into town and hire cars are available at both airports.