Guest post by Claires Footsteps
Beautiful Byron. This town is the only one that made me stay still and appreciate what was around me in 18 months of travelling. And let me tell you, when it’s Byron that’s around you, it’s something very special.
Byron Bay is one of the most popular destinations on an east coast Australia road trip. It’s located right at the top of New South Wales, about 3 hours south of Brisbane and 10 hours north of Sydney. Even though it’s very famous, it’s a tiny town; most of its businesses are lined up along one road, with a few shops and restaurants branching off to the side. The main street leads up to a beautiful beachfront, where you can walk in either direction for Eden-like sands, or climb up to the famous Byron Bay lighthouse – which is the most easterly point of the Australian mainland. Unsurprisingly, Byron Bay’s beaches are a fantastic place to catch a good surf!
Beautiful beaches are definitely an asset of Byron Bay, but the reason so many people stick around is the atmosphere of the town. In Byron, shops are bursting with character and everywhere is colourful. It’s the kind of place where creativity is encouraged, people can wear whatever they feel without being judged and where talents thrive. On a typical day in Byron Bay, you’ll walk past buskers, people selling jewellery, street artists and fire spinners – without even getting off the main street!
So, if you’re thinking about visiting Byron Bay, here’s a Byron Bay guide to help you make the most of your time in the town.
How to get to Byron Bay
As aforementioned, Byron Bay is a popular stop on an east coast road trip, and it’s just a short detour from the main highway from Sydney to Brisbane.
If you’re taking the coaches up the east coast, Byron Bay is the main stop for Greyhound and Premier buses.
If you want to take the train, it’s possible to catch one from Sydney Central to Casino and then get a bus transfer.
There are three airports nearby: Byron/ Ballina, the Gold Coast and Brisbane
Things to do in Byron Bay
Hike up to the Lighthouse
One of the top things to do in Byron Bay, the lighthouse walk offers spectacular scenes of the town’s many beaches and its gorgeous hinterland. For best views en-route, walk along Main Beach and climb up toward the lighthouse from Wategos. It’s an easy/ moderate hike and takes about 30 minutes from the town centre.
Get your groove on at the drum circle
The drum circle runs by main beach almost nightly; it is only called off it is too windy or wet. Expect drums (obviously), jazz instruments and lots of dancing. If you have your own instrument, feel free to join into whatever beat that they are playing, or if you don’t, dance around while watching waves crash onto the shore. There really isn’t a more quintessential Byron experience.
Take a dip in tea tree lakes
The tea tree lakes around Byron are so because of the excreted oil of the surrounding trees that mixes into the water. They’re wonderfully scenic and are a fantastic chill spot, and swimming in them will leave your skin feeling refreshed and rejuvenated – the natural way.
Browse the quirky stores
Whether you want to purchase a colourful garment at The Rainbow Shop or invest in the materials to make jewellery at Beads, there’s plenty of beautiful items to purchase in Byron. The stores are a hippie shopaholics paradise, and even if you’re strapped for cash, just wandering around and window shopping is a great experience too.
Visit Tallows Beach
All of the beaches deserve a mention, but Tallows is pretty special. It’s the furthest from the town centre, which means that it gets about 1% of the number of tourists that visit Main Beach. It’s home to white sand, blue seas and some of the aforementioned tea tree lakes! Make sure to add a walk along this stunning beachfront to your Byron bucket list.
Go to the tree sanctuary
Once upon a time, Byron was covered in rainforest. Sadly, a lot of that has been destroyed but there is a tree sanctuary halfway between town and The Arts Factory Hostel that is open for visitors. A boardwalk ensures that no damage is made to the fragile ecosystem – and will also make sure that you’re not bitten by any snakes! – and it’s a lovely place to relax and be with nature.
Take a yoga class
Byron Bay practically screams ‘zen’ but if you’re having trouble finding it, try taking a yoga class. Some hostels offer lessons, and there is also a yoga school very near The Arts Factory Hostel. If you’re keen to try meditation, there are classes at the community centre. And if you really want to get in touch with your inner chi, there are plenty of opportunities to try reiki (natural healing) in Byron, or even the chance to become a reiki master yourself!
Attend the Arts Factory talent show
The Arts Factory Hostel, which is located a 10 minute walk out of town, attracts one thing in particular; talent. And every Tuesday, the best of this is shown to guests of the hostel. Singers, dancers and hula hoopers all provide weekly entertainment at the show, so grab a bag of goon* and some pals and come and appreciate the best talent that Byron has to offer!
Catch some more talent at the beachfront
There’s one more thing that Byron Bay is famous for that is sadly not allowed at the Arts Factory talent show; fire spinning. However, there are often free demonstrations along the beachfront, which are loved by tourists and locals alike. If there’s no fire spinning, there’s probably busking or another circus trick. Just head down to the beachfront on an evening and see what you can find!
Where to eat and drink in Byron Bay
There are heaps of great places to eat and drink in Byron, that it’s hard to choose just a few! Here are some of my favourites.
BayGer – This small takeaway-style restaurant serves up burgers of all kinds. The vegetarian options here are a delight – my favourite is the portobello mushroom burger. I can’t comment on the meat options, but vegetarians and omnivores alike have commented on BayGer’s deliciousness!
Bombay 2 Byron – Byron Bay’s only Indian restaurant, Bombay 2 Byron has a diverse menu featuring curries and sides for every palate. There are special lunchtime deals and it’s possible to bring alcohol on a BYO basis.
Miss Margarita – Feeling spicy? Miss Margarita is the idea fast-paced restaurant; it’s right by the beach, it serves delicious cocktails and amazing Mexican food. It’s heaving at peak times, so maybe try to go for an early or late dinner!
Byron Fresh Café – My breakfast favourite, Byron Fresh has a huge variety of breakfast treats with lots of vegetarian and vegan options. Its cappuccinos are to die for, and the juices are incredible too (I actually once bought three drinks in there because I couldn’t decide)! Choose from eating in the café or dining al fresco.
Balcony – Balcony Bar serves cocktails and posh nosh – it’s not cheap, but it’s well worth the splurge. Because what beats sitting on a huge balcony in Byron Bay, sipping on a delicious cocktail, knowing that your only responsibilities for the day are relishing in the moment and maybe making it on time to catch the sunset?
Railway Bar – Located by the old railway station, the Railway Bar is often the first point of call for people going out in Byron Bay. There’s live music at the weekends and ‘pub grub’ served during the day. It’s always got a busy atmosphere and fairly priced drinks. Open until midnight.
Beach Hotel – The home of Byron Bay’s famous reggae night, the Beach Hotel has a large bar space that’s perfect for drinking and later, dancing. Reggae Night is every Monday, but there’s often live music events over the weekend as well.
The Northern – Both a pub and a music venue, the Northern is open for drinks every night, but often hosts concerts in its large backstage area. It’s open until later on the weekends.
Sticky Wicket – The Sticky Wicket is foremostly a sports bar, but its monthly Apotheka night draws in crowds to the bar above, who come to dance away to techno beats.
Where to stay in Byron Bay
There’s no place quite like the Arts Factory. Spread out over 5 acres, guests can enjoy didgeridoo lessons, yoga classes, an on-site café, weekly talent show, weekly quiz and guided bush walks. Choose from staying in a dorm overlooking the pool, an ‘island retreat’ cabin, a tipi or even on the on-site campground.
Byron Sunseeker Motel is close to town but still enjoys free parking, as well as a pool, super clean rooms, BBQ facilities and helpful staff. It’s walking distance to all the main attractions but far away enough to get a peaceful night’s sleep.
The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa is perfect for those visiting Byron Bay on a special occasion or just seeking some luxury. With complimentary yoga classes, a beautiful pool area and surrounding rainforest, the hotel is perfect for a bit of R&R and unwinding time.
Claire is a travel blogger and freelance writer who posts about her overland adventures and eco-travel ideas at Claires Footsteps. She has just returned from an epic road trip around the whole of Australia, and is currently contemplating her next adventure!
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