When you think of your perfect trip, perhaps it looks a little like this: endless sunshine, cool and quirky cafes, bars and restaurants, awe-inspiring nature, friendly people, and a rich, arty culture. If so, you’re going to love Byron Bay. This sun-soaked beach town has all of these things and more.
Think fertile land, subtropical climate, a thriving alternative scene, organic food, great markets, a relaxed atmosphere and more sea-based activities than you could dream of. It’s unlikely that anyone ever leaves Byron Bay in a bad mood – this place is food for the soul. Byron Bay is busy, as you might expect, but it never feels too crowded, such are the tranquil vibes here. It has been alive and kicking for 22,000 years, and yet never has it lost its charm or beauty.
If you’re planning a visit to this wonderful spot, you might be wondering what you can do and where the best eateries are. Well there are plenty of options for both, but a few favourites are coming up to help your plans go smoothly.
What to do in Byron Bay
Take a walk around the town
Simple, but satisfying. Exploring Byron Bay on foot is always a good idea, as you’ll see so many unexpected things. There are many great markets to wander around, and lots of pretty little local towns in the vicinity. You’ll come across lots of cool boutiques, and have plenty of chances to immerse yourself in the vibrant café culture.
One thing not to miss is the Crystal Castle and Shambala Gardens. Here you will be privy to some truly beautiful gardens full and rainforest that is teeming with plant life, as well as some jaw-droppingly amazing crystals – they’re probably bigger than anything you’ve come across before.
There’s a labyrinth to explore, and a sacred monument called the ‘Kalachakra stupa for world peace’, which was once blessed by the Dalai Lama himself. Feel like meditating or taking in the vibrations of a gong bath? That’s also an option here.
Take a ride on the Byron Bay Train
Byron Bay has some abandoned train tracks, and locals breathed some new life into the surrounding area by turning it into an arts and industrial estate. The tracks are now recycled, and you can jump on a vintage solar train to ride on a loop between the North beaches and the centre of town.
Some people opt to hire a bicycle to explore the arts and industrial estate; this gives you a fair bit more time to take in the sights, of which there are many. Experience the plentitude of delightful cafes and shops, and visit an abundance of creative local enterprises, each with something different to offer.
Visit Brunswick Heads
Brunswick Heads is a sight for sore eyes. This pretty coastal village is worthy of a few hours of your trip, as it has gorgeous beaches of glittering white sand. It’s a top spot for swimmers, surfers, and sunbathers alike.
There are plenty of boats on the water, some of which you can sail on, and there are plenty of lovely little cafes and bars to relax too. You’ll find delicious cuisine here, and many people are happy to promote the excellent fish and chips… don’t just take their word for it!
Attend a music festival
Music is the answer, so they say, and Byron Bay certainly agrees. Musicians and artists from all over the world come to the town to exhibit their skills, and this has resulted in various festivals being set up throughout the year.
For example, April is the time for the popular Bluesfest, July is for Splendour in the Grass, August is for the Writer’s Festival, and in October you can join the Byron Bay Film Festival. There are plenty more, so find out what’s on when you’re visiting and join in the fun.
Take a surfing lesson
If you’re not already a surfing champ, Byron Bay is the place to embark on that journey. You certainly won’t be alone. By the time you leave Byron Bay, you may well be able to stand on that board for more than two seconds… the chances are higher if you take a lesson or two, of course!
One way to do this is join a surfing tour. Byron Bay has plenty, and they’re aimed at all levels of ability. You can choose from two-hour lessons to an entire weekend of surfing. Even the dab hands can pick up a few new tricks in Byron Bay. Rent some surf gear, or splash out and buy some of the coolest stuff in town from the main street stores. All that’s left is to book your lessons.
Where to eat in Byron Bay
You’re going to love Harvest. Situated 20 minutes drive from Byron Bay in the historic town of Newrybar and amidst the Hinterland, Harvest café is inviting on so many levels.
Fancy some delicious deli food? Check. Fancy some mouth-watering pastries? Check. Local produce is the preference here, and all ingredients are fresh, organic, and delicious. Some of the food on your plate comes from the restaurant’s farm and gardens too.
Balcony Bar & Oyster Co.
This is just the spot for those who love a good cocktail or cheeseboard. Balcony Bar & Oyster Co is frequented by a mixed group: those who have already eaten their main meal for the night, but just want to relax with some classy drinks and after-dinner nibbles… and then there are those who know that the menu here is fabulous, so they make a beeline for it at dinner time. The meals are wonderful, the drinks can compete for that title, and you won’t leave hungry (maybe not sober, either!).
Tacos, tacos, and more tacos. At The Roadhouse diner on the outskirts of Byron Bay, these are the main event. Although the menu has been changed up every three months since the diner opened, the tacos are famous in the area and are here to stay.
Whichever you choose, you’re going to find a huge meal on your plate. The flavours are fantastic. Expect crispy fish (the locally famous choice), avocado, red cabbage slaw, roasted corn or baby tomatoes, and must-try picante mayo.
Beach Byron Bay
Beach Byron Bay café-restaurant is enticing for more reasons than one; the views are as amazing as the food. There’s a clue in the name – you’ll be looking out across the beautiful Clarks Beach, with views that extend across the whole bay. From here you can even see the lighthouse.
It’s all about Italy at this place; here the pasta is handmade, the seafood is sublime, and the desserts are out of this world. If you make it, you should try the burrata, a fresh Italian buffalo milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream. It comes in a traditional bagna cauda, a delicious hot dish from Piedmont, Italy that dates to the 16th century. You’re going to love it.
We have only scratched the surface when it comes to Byron Bay’s eateries and activities, but we know the above selection won’t let you down. On a trip like this, time is usually of the essence, but in Byron Bay time isn’t the focus. All you need to do is make sure you’ve got enough of your own to fully appreciate this awesome town. Have fun!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sam Ross runs the blog The Hammock Hombre – a travel blog focused around the digital nomad lifestyle. Over the past 3 years, he’s travelled to every continent, so writes on a broad range of countries, cities and destinations.