Mainland Australia's easternmost town is a melting pot of surf culture, alternative lifestyles and hedonistic pursuits.
By Ellie Schneider
Unwind, relax and be the first to see the sunrise in mainland Australia's easternmost town. It's home to excellent beaches, lush rainforests, great regional dining and new-age retreats. You won't want to leave.
- Swim or surf at picturesque beaches
- Feast on delicious local produce
- Climb spectacular clifftop walking trails
How to get there
Domestic flights arrive at Ballina Airport, a 25-minute drive south of Byron Bay, or at Gold Coast Airport, a 45-minute drive north of Byron Bay. Many people choose to drive to Byron Bay: it’s about a nine-hour drive north from Sydney or a two-hour drive south from Brisbane.
Things to do and top attractions in Byron Bay
Head to one of Byron Bay's stunning beaches
Byron Bay's endless beaches and reliable surf breaks have been attracting surfers for years. But today its beaches draw visitors for meditation, walking and sheltered swimming as much as their tubular waves. Kayak through clear waters beside a pod of bottlenose dolphins in Cape Byron Marine Park, or snorkel or scuba dive among sea turtles at Julian Rocks. Hit the popular right-hand point break, The Pass, halfway between Main Beach and the Cape Byron Headland. First-time surfers can book a group or private lesson with Let’s Go Surfing. Ride along isolated Seven Mile Beach on horseback or practise yoga while overlooking the ocean at Beachside Yoga and Massage.
Discover Byron's thriving food scene
Byron's town centre is home to a host of cafés, serving everything from sinful breakfasts to cold-pressed juices and gelato. Travel just a little way out of town and you can delve into a new breed of eateries. Visit Three Blue Ducks in Byron, set on a working farm on the outskirts of town that's home to heritage-breed pigs, Scottish Highland cattle and chickens. Its wholesome menu emphasises local produce in dishes such as house-cured salmon, sticky spiced lamb shoulder and Byron Bay haloumi. Book well in advance for the degustation at Fleet, a 22-seat restaurant and wine bar in nearby Brunswick Heads that has garnered serious acclaim on Australia's culinary scene. For a taste of the region's diverse flavours, visit the 300-stall Byron Bay Community Market, held on the first Sunday each month.
Tune into nature with a coastal walk or hinterland trek
Natural beauty abounds wherever you are in Byron Bay. Walk the Cape Byron track as dawn breaks, and be one of the first people in Australia to salute the sun. The 3.7-kilometre (2.3-mile) loop leads through rainforest and windswept cliffs, with panoramic views across the ocean and hinterland. Keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales, which migrate along the coast between June and November. Out of town, hike to the rim of Mount Warning (a five-hour return walk) and take in 360-degree views stretching from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast. In World Heritage-listed Nightcap National Park, you can walk through dense rainforest and pristine creeks to the base of Minyon Falls or meet nocturnal animals, including bandicoots, pademelons, tawny frogmouths and possums, on a night vision walk.
Get your heart racing
Byron Bay may be known for its laid-back lifestyle, but there are still plenty of activities to get your heart racing. Soar above the Cape Byron Lighthouse and Wategos Beach on a 30-minute tandem hang glide. Or join a scenic joy flight above the magnificent coastline and over the rugged ridges of Mount Warning. For the ultimate adrenaline rush, freefall from extreme altitudes of up to 4.3 kilometres (14,000 feet) with Skydive Byron Bay, enjoying spectacular views across the beach and hinterland.
Find inner peace at a wellness retreat
Rejuvenate and rebalance at one of the many health retreats in and around Byron Bay. The region is renowned for its alternative healing practices, such as acupuncture, reflexology, aromatherapy, reiki, yoga and massage. Internationally renowned Gaia Retreat and Spa is set among rolling hills and lush rainforest and offers a number of packages to revive, renew, refresh and restore, with activities such as daily morning yoga, boxing and Pilates. Or try Byron Wellbeing Retreats, which pairs daily yoga and mediation with your choice of surfing lessons, detox therapies or raw food cooking classes.
Join the party at one of Byron Bay's incredible music festivals
While it may be known as a place to relax and unwind, Byron also has a reputation as a mecca for music lovers. Each year the Byron Bay Bluesfest attracts more than 200 artists performing over the Easter long weekend (March or April). The festival is known for securing top talent, and attracts a crowd of over 100,000 people. In the past the festival has featured gigs by legends such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Crosby, Stills & Nash, alongside contemporary performers such as Kendrick Lamar, Jack Johnson and Hozier. Usually held in July, Splendour in the Grass brings in over 100 contemporary artists for a weekend lineup of incredible acts. Previous years have featured international favourites like Lorde, CHVRCHES, Franz Ferdinand and Vampire Weekend. Bring your camping gear for a true Aussie music festival experience.
Experience one of Byron's coolest hotels
Elements of Byron is an award-winning resort that embodies the idea of barefoot luxury. It offers absolute beachfront, peaceful natural surrounds and a luxurious heated lagoon pool and spa. With only a 3.8% building footprint across 20 hectares (50 acres), guests can relax in the surrounding rainforest, complete with tranquil lake, tea tree creek and ponds. To get there just catch the world’s first solar train from Byron township along the three-kilometre (1.9-mile) coastal track. Another great option in town is The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa. Here you'll find impeccable service paired with refined luxury set in stunning natural surrounds.
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