Byron Bay is one of the hottest destinations in Australia right now. The once-sleepy hippie haven has become the getaway of choice for travellers looking to escape the crush of the city, wellness seekers, surfers chasing a perfect break and even Hollywood stars. The town is buzzing – but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a secret spot to call your own. Follow this guide to the best of Byron.
Eat at the perfect breakfast spot
When you spend the night in Byron, it’s practically a rule that you need to be up before dawn to catch the sunrise from the Cape Byron Lighthouse. It’s quite the uphill hike so you’ll need to refuel well once you climb back down to ground level. Head to Barrio, a bright and airy space around an eight-minute drive from the town centre. The afternoon menu skews towards tapas-style veggie dishes and seafood but for breakfast, you can’t go past the avocado toast: a hunk of bread spread with avocado and pickles, a sprinkle of seaweed flakes and seeds and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Find the best shopping
Just around the corner from Barrio in Byron’s Arts and Industry Estate, about a kilometre out of town, you’ll find an impressive sprawl of cafés, craft breweries and soothing beauty salons. You’ll also find a series of unique boutiques selling all manner of clothing, homewares and indulgences. Stop by the joint Velvet Canyon and Flash Jewellery showroom, offering stylish eyewear and delicate jewellery, and Mayde Tea for distinctive natural tea blends.
Seek out a new beach
If you follow the main road through town, you’ll end up at Byron Bay’s Main Beach. It’s a worthy patch of sand to spend a sunny afternoon but there are more than 30 kilometres of beaches in the region so get exploring. Little Wategos and The Pass are easy enough to walk to – the former is quite sheltered and great for little kids; the latter is best for surfing (as is Lennox Head, a national surfing reserve, about a 25-minute drive south). Tallow Beach, fringing the Arakawal National Park to the east of the township, is unpatrolled by great for surfing (and whale-watching during migration season); Belongil Beach is much less crowded than the nearby Main Beach and is dog friendly. If you’re keen to seek out a true local spot, head further afield to Brunswick Heads’ Christmas Beach. Drive past Brunswick to Ocean Shores, then follow North Head Road to the very end. Walk through the bush path for around 500 metres and you’ll arrive at a calm cove on the northern banks of the Brunswick River, with plenty of shade and space to stretch out.
Take a walk
Though the Cape Byron Lighthouse walk offers some of the most spectacular ocean views anywhere in Australia, some of the best hikes in Byron Bay are miles away from the coast thanks to two magnificent national parks within easy driving distance. The Minyon Falls lookout, in Nightcap National Park, is easily accessible and lets you look down the plunging cascade but for a little extra adventure, the Minyon Falls walking track is a four-hour round trip to a quieter spot, with the added bonus of a cool swimming hole at its base. The Brummies Lookout walk, in Mount Warning National Park, is an eight-kilometre trek ideal for experienced hikers that culminates in incredible views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
Book a special restaurant for dinner
A table at Raes on Wategos at sunset is in-demand for a reason: there’s no better place in Byron to watch the sky fade from blue to indigo over dinner (ask for a seat by the window). Start with half a dozen native oysters, served with a fresh Perrier-Jouët granita then move on to the incredible pasta. More than just a standard spaghetti marinara, the strands of fine tagliolini or silky slices of squid-ink lasagne are woven with just-caught seafood and native ingredients such as bush tomatoes, saltbush and desert lime.