When visiting Byron Bay, it is recommended that you start your journey at the most eastern point on Australia’s mainland which is at Cape Byron. Here you will be greeted by stunning ocean views, as well as Cape Byron’s famous lighthouse, which was built in 1901 to alert passing ships of the dangers of the coast. From here you can embark on a walk around Cape Byron which is a 3.5 km loop that takes you through rainforest and across cliff tops with breath-taking views and the chance to see a variety of wildlife too.
For those who want to take things easy, Byron Bay offers two good and clean beaches for the sun-worshippers and surfers amongst you. Main Beach offers the perfect place to people watch and hang out with friends, whilst Belongil Beach is much quieter, it may be more suitable for the exhibitionists out there, as it operates as a nudist beach all year round!
If the call of the waves is too strong to resist then there are plenty of opportunities to undertake water activities such as kayaking, whale watching and of course the ultimate Aussie sport; surfing. There are many places where you can pick up a board or get lessons whilst visiting Byron but one of the best places to hire surfboards is ‘Byron Bay, Surf and Bike Hire’ based on Lawson Street, basic hire of a board starts at $10 per day.
If you are after the famous hippie vibe that Byron has, but hate the thought of getting sand in your shoes, then no need to worry as Byron also has lots to offer besides the beach. If you head to Butler Street Reserve on the 1st Sunday of every month between 8am and 4pm you will get the chance to indulge in some retail therapy at Byron Bay Markets which is famous for its range of produce, new age funkiness and great atmosphere.
Another thing to do whilst in Byron, if you wish to relax the mind, body and soul, is to partake in a yoga class. There are several yoga centres and retreats in the city to choose from, but one worthy of a mention is the Byron Yoga Centre on Byron Street, they are the Bay’s longest established yoga school and offer a variety of classes depending on your yoga needs.
However, if you are worried that you will end up too chilled out whilst visiting the city, you can get the heart racing again with a skydive over Byron Bay and Ballina. The skydive in Byron is one of Australia’s highest at 14,000ft and after free falling for 60 seconds you then float down to the ground and can enjoy the view of sparkling sandy beaches and hinterland views.
After all that excitement you’ll probably be in need of a drink and something to eat, thankfully Byron caters for everyone’s dietary requirements. Particular culinary highlights worth mentioning are the Arts Factory Village, although it is primarily a backpackers lodge (you can even stay in a teepee here!), it also houses The Brewery (Buddha Bar) and Restaurant which has a contemporary atmosphere, with a gourmet menu, beer garden area and live music daily. Plus tours are available of the brewery if you want to discover more about their brewing process.
Another place worth visiting is the Beach Hotel, referred to by the locals as ‘Top Pub’ it is the only pub on the beachfront of Main Beach. A great place to tuck into some traditional ‘pub grub’ whilst admiring the views of the ocean. On the other hand, if you are after something quick and easy to eat whilst on the go, Euro Sushi on Lawson Street is your answer they offer sushi rolls for $2.50 each and is hailed as ‘the best sushi in town.’
As the sun goes down at the end of the day, the city of Byron remains alive and kicking .To continue immersing yourself in Byron’s buzzing atmosphere after dark, a refreshing beer or exotic cocktail can be consumed at The Balcony Bar which is based in one of Byron’s oldest buildings giving it a unique charm as a drinking spot within the city.
If you want to come across more of the eccentric type of locals or other backpackers, then Railway Friendly Bar (also known as the Tracks) is the place to head for a pint or two. And if dancing on the tables and waving your hands around like you just don’t care is what you want from a night out then Cheeky Monkeys will give you that in abundance.
Overall Byron Bay makes for a great holiday destination with beautiful beaches, laid back locals and a relaxing atmosphere.
By Stephanie Cross