The beauty of Byron Bay
Byron Bay’s elemental, health-affirming pleasures extend far beyond a breakfast diet of yoga and kombucha. The setting itself soothes the soul. Shapely fins bob in the sea and ocean spray shoots from blowholes between May and November. Yes, that’s when thousands of humpback whales cruise the waters flanking Australia’s most easterly point, in the Cape Byron State Conservation Area. In the surrounding romantic coves and sandy bays, frolicking pods of dolphins are also thick in number.
In the sun-splashed embrace of this coastal honey-pot, soak it all up at the Cape Byron Bay Lighthouse, crowning the rocky point, where countless visitors gather everyday for sunrise yoga, soundtracked by breaking waves.
A deep-seated sense of respect for nature and the environment is one of Byron Bay’s biggest calling cards. That all-encompassing spirit lavishly manifests itself at Three Blue Ducks, the ultimate locavore dining spot, where the café and store proudly boast zero food miles. The onsite garden and farm is the sole supplier of all fresh produce sold and consumed here, as you admire mother pigs feeding their babies and bakers kneading vast mounds of dough.
Shuck some oysters at The Balcony Bar and Oyster Co. It’s where Byron’s beautiful people converge to catch up, often barefoot. Other recommended venues include Bay Leaf in Marvell St for breakfast. It swells with big crowds, but don’t let that put you off, because the whip-smart staff will soon get you seated with sterling efficiency and great service. We also loved Fresh Byron in Jonson Street, for delicious good-value fare.
Take a stroll along Wategos Beach to Folk Café, where the courtyard is infused with wafting incense.
Vegan diners sway to the bongo drum beats of this hip café. How very Byron. It’s a great spot for noshing on nourishing organic and plant-based goodies. Be sure to pay a visit to the Beach Hotel, a 25 year-old institution, lording over the golden sands of Main Beach.
Byron’s most famous pub is open daily from 8am till late, whether its noshing or imbibing that takes your fancy. From daybreak coffee to dreamy late-night cocktails, this iconic destination has it all. Byron Bay’s town centre is a sprawling, al fresco emporium of all things eclectic, bohemian and woo-woo.
Crystals and gemstones twinkle in the sunlight, there’s more Buddha statues than you could shake a joss stick at, and North American Indian dreamcatchers dangle from shopfronts in the balmy breeze. Dreadlocks & tattoos, families with youngsters, hippies with fringes…it’s a melting pot of humanity in all its hues.
If you happen to be visiting on the first Sunday of the month, follow the happy hordes to the bountiful Byron Bay Markets, where a cornucopia of freshly produced and crafted goods are eagerly snapped up, from olives and honey to ceramics and clothing.
Lustily sporting its sustainability ethos, jump onboard the world’s first solar train, which runs a return shuttle service for the three kilometre journey between North Beach Station in Sunrise Beach and the town centre. Operating just under a year, the Byron Bay Railroad Company has restored a derelict heritage train and repaired the railway line. Solar panels on the train and train storage shed generate the equivalent amount of energy required to operate the train daily, charging the on-board battery bank.
Where to stay? Breakfree Eco Beach is just a five minute walk to the town centre and ten minutes to the beach. In such a heaving hub of happy holidaymakers, I was thrilled to discover what a peaceful and quiet oasis this boutique resort is. Nestled in private surrounds, the central swimming pool, spa and a barbeque area ramped up the relaxation factor, far removed from the throbbing heart of Byron Bay.
Whether you opt for a contemporary studio room or splash out on an apartment, all accommodation options feature their own courtyard or balcony, to drink in the immensely agreeable northern NSW climate. A thoughtful touch to accentuate the sense of privacy sees all the private balconies face different directions.
Hotel staff were unfailingly outgoing, helpful and convivial. You can get all of your sightseeing plans bolted down at the excellent tour desk. There’s a guest laundry and complimentary secure basement car parking. My crisp, inviting and spacious accommodations were generously loaded with amenities and creature comforts including air-conditioning, kitchenette with microwave, toaster, cable TV, DVD and tea & coffee making. Best of all, Breakfree Eco Beach is exceptional value for money, sealing the deal on this winning Byron Bay roost. https://www.mantrahotels.com/breakfree-eco-beach/
It’s fitting that turkeys and iguanas roam the streets like carefree freedom campers in this chillaxed nexus of inclusivity. The vehicles are just as eclectic. From Teslas to V-Dubs, all vehicles are equally welcome in this microcosm of global diversity. Queensland’s Gold Coast is a 45-minute drive away of Byron Bay, with Coolangatta being the best international entry point if you’re Byron-bound, direct from New Zealand.