Byron Bay

Everything to Know About Visiting Australia’s Hidden Gem, Byron Bay

No one, it seems, is immune to the magic of Byron Bay.

With a town slogan of: Cheer up, slow down, chill out- Byron has a reputation completely unique to anywhere else in Australia.

With beautiful coastline, perfect weather, close proximity to the hinterland, and a distinct boho vibe, there’s no arguing Byron is a special place.

Interior design and clothing boutiques abound in this creative town, busking culture isn’t just encouraged- it’s celebrated.

With clean, white sand shores stretching between the headlands of northern New South Wales, Byron is one of Australia’s surf capitals, and boasts an abundance of fresh, organic food.

It could be the free spirited energy- the feeling you can do whatever you want, and be whoever- but, whatever it is, you’ll sense it the moment you arrive.

You know what they say: Save the best for last.

Even though we loved every stop on our Oz road trip, Byron Bay felt like the cherry on the top.

We spent four days in this chilled out, beach paradise and could have easily stayed in the land of laid back for another week.

What to Do

While there are some things any visitor to Byron should see and do- especially a first time one, part of the reason we loved our time there so much is because we mostly just hung out.

A beach town with a ton of cute cafes, gorgeous beaches, trendy boutiques, and stunning nature walks, it’s the kind of place where you can do as much, or as little as you’d like.

Truly, we just loved wandering the town. It’s small enough, you can leisurely see most of it in a few hours.

Things we loved in Byron-

Browsing the town’s adorable boutiques: Byron is a mecca for adorable, full of charming things shops. I loved perusing Nikau, Hope & May, Auguste, and Marr-Kett. If you’ve only got time for one, don’t miss Marr-Kett, it’s a real winner- I found myself so swept up in the Byron vibes, I even bought my first amethyst crystal here.

Lounging on white sand beaches: Byron’s main beach is beautiful, but often crowded. We loved driving to some of the area’s quieter, and in some cases, even more beautiful stretches of sand.

  • Tallow Beach: A huge stretch of sand, situated below the lighthouse cliff. way less crowded than other beaches in the area
  • Belongil Beach: Quieter than Byron’s main beach, there are a couple of great cafes and restaurants on the ‘main street’. You could walk to this beach from Byron’s main one, or drive over- it’s only a few minutes drive from the heart of town
  • Clarkes Beach: Large, sandy beach
  • Wategos Beach: Perfect for surf, or lounging on the sand

Listening to the nightly drum circle: During this nightly Byron tradition, locals and tourists alike take part in creating a one-of-a-kind drum beats and dance parties as the sun sinks into the Tasman Sea.

Hiking the lighthouse trail walk to the Most Easterly Point of Australia: You can drive to the top of the lighthouse path, although parking is very limited, or walk up for a bout of exercise and stunning trail views. We walked up from Wategoes Beach, which is a shorter hike than if you started in town.

However you get there, I’d suggest going at two different times if you can swing it- we picked mid-day to see the sun sparkling on the beautiful, blue water below, and sunset for fleeting moments of dusk. I’ve heard sunrise is also incredible here, but gets crowded- one of the parking lots doesn’t open until after sunrise, making it difficult to find a spot at the top.

And, while you’re at the top, keep an eye out for dolphins or turtles swimming in the breaks below, near the Most Easterly Point of Australia.

Watching sunset, as the final rays of the day cast their glow on Oz: The Pass is the best spot for this. As you’re lounging in the sand, you’ll spot dozens of surfers catching the last waves of the day while the sun slowly sets. It’s beautiful, and quintessential Oz.

Driving out to Bangalow to check out the weekly farmers market: Filled with beautiful, historic homes, Bangalow is straight out of a boho fashion shoot. The farmers market happens every Saturday from 8 am – early afternoon, and is packed with tons of local artisans, as well as bakers and darling coffee carts.

While you’re in Bangalow, don’t miss strolling the town, too. It’s smaller than Byron, but there are plenty of cool cafes, shops and gorgeous buildings to gawk at.

  • Bangalow Pharmacy: Gorg collection of products
  • Sparrow: Very good coffee in a teeny, tiny space
  • Newrybar: While in Bangalow, drive through Newrybar as well- it’s a tiny historic village with beautiful shops. We especially loved browsing Harvest, and playing with its resident doggo, Luke

Sipping a mocktail (or cocktail) at Halycon House: This design hotel has been on my radar for years, so of course, we had to drop in on our way to Bryon for a mocktail poolside. Suffice to say, the interiors were just as beautiful as I hoped they’d be.

Where to Have Coffee

Part of the reason we loved Byron?

So many chill cafes- laughter and conversations over tropical smoothies at brightly decorated cafes; slow mornings sipping coconut cold brew at a folksy coffee shop; avo toast topped with vegemite-infused salt for brekkie- it was all so perfectly relaxed.

If you’re heading to Byron Bay, these cafes are great places to get your caffeine fix on, or simply slow down and chill out.

5 Boho Cafes You Can’t Miss in Byron Bay

Folk: We hit up this Byron institution for coconut cold brew on a lazy morning, and loved that we pretty much had an entire corner of the space to ourselves. We’d eaten previously at The Farm, but their brunch menu looked great, as well

Bayleaf Cafe: Just about everyone told us to visit Bayleaf for brunch, and advised us to expect a long line. To beat the brekkie crowd, we came near the end of brunch after working up an appetite on a hike. Let’s just say people aren’t wrong about Bayleaf- the interiors are beautifully decorated with patterned tiles, vibrant art and hanging plants. And, the avo toast we had, which came with herbed feta and vegemite infused salt, was one of our favourite takes on the Aussie classic

Espressohead: A fab place to stop for takeaway coffee service- their iced mochas are a fantastic treat after a hot, afternoon hike up to the lighthouse

The Farm: A working farm with a cafe and garden shed, The Farm has two great ‘cafe’ options- its bakery, which turns out surprisingly great Portuguese egg tarts and presses cloudy apple juice, or Three Blue Ducks- a more refined dining option, but still one with a bangin’ brunch menu. We loved The Farm- it was lovely wandering the actual farmland, and seeing where some of the ingredients they use are sourced from. It does feel like a bit more of a visitor, than local, experience, but a lovely one nonetheless

Combi: Is there anything more ‘on brand’ for downtown Byron than this open-air cafe, decked out in pink, pillows and string lights? Factor in their delicious, healthy and vibrant smoothies, and it’s truly an Aussie experience. We loved this casual, beautiful setting so much, we returned a few times to work our way through their coffee and smoothie menu

Bonus Reco: Suffolk Park Bakery is the move for weekend morning pastries- loads of danish and breads, filled with everything imaginable. Great iced coffee, too.

//The Best of Byron’s Bohemian Cafes //

Where to Eat

During our adventures in Oz, we kept to a pretty tight budget of ~$20 AUD per day on coffee and meals out.

Usually, this meant a nice brunch out, plus a few coffees, and maybe a street snack (looking at you, ice cream).

For other meals (early morning breakfast, dinner), we bought groceries from Aldi’s and cooked for ourselves. Doing so proved to be a great way to try local brands, eat healthy, and keep cost down.

All that to say, I don’t have a ton of restaurant recommendations for Byron Bay. Additionally, most of the cafes I’ve recommended above, and in my cafe guide, serve a great brunch.

A couple of other good eats in town-

  • Treehouse in Belongil: Loads of outdoor seating, good for breakfast or an afternoon pizza
  • Miss Margarita: Excellent tacos, if you eat fish- the fish tacos are an absolute must-order
  • Orgasmic Food: The falafel is killer
  • Beaches & Cream: Creamy, delicious ice cream. Loved the salted caramel & Nutella flavours
  • Il Buco Cafe & Pizzeria: Great, wood-fired pizza

Extra Oz Travel Tips

Language: English, with some quirky slang thrown in for good measure 

Safety: Never once, traveling across Australia did we feel unsafe. Still take the normal precautions, like locking your car at night and keeping an eye on valuables, but I’d compare most of the cities and places we visited to small and big cities in the UK and US

Currency: Australian Dollar

While in Oz, I paid for most things with my Revoult card, as many things are contactless payment. I did carry a small amount of cash with me to cover tiny purchases- like a pack of gum here and there

Budget: Oz gets flak for being expensive, and while it is costly in comparison to nearby Southeast Asian countries, I found things to be a bit more affordable than in the US or UK. 

As with other destinations, there are ways to scale back on spending- eating meals in, staying in hostels or camping, limiting alcohol, and so on.

Getting to Byron Bay: We flew in from Sydney, which was affordable on a Jetstar flight. Book ahead for the best deals. 

Once at the airport, we rented a car, and drove an hour to Byron. Believe there’s also a shuttle service you can use, if you’re not planning to self-drive.

When to Visit: Summer (December – February) and the fringe months before and after offer the best weather, so to speak. 

We visited at the end beginning of spring (late September), and enjoyed moderate temps (70-80 Fahrenheit most days), as well as lots of sun.

Getting Around the City: In the town of Byron, we parked and then walked everywhere since it’s small enough.  

When we drove, it was between parts of Byron outside of town, and to connect us back up the Gold Coast.

Tipping: Tipping is not common practice in Australia 

WiFi Access: WiFi was decent throughout the town. In our Airbnb, we had moderate speed WiFi, which was good enough for me to do a bit of work. 

Many cafes in Oz do not offer free WiFi, so if you’re planning on connecting to check directions as you visit, you may have a tough time doing so.

SIM Card Options: I bought a 30-day SIM upon arrival at Sydney’s airport when we arrived from New Zealand. Optus was running 50% off deals, making a 30-day SIM with loads of data pretty affordable (~£15).

Have you ever visited Byron Bay? Were you taken aback by its magic, too?

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