Byron Bay has the magical combination of natural beauty and a creative, free-spirited local population. No visit to Byron Bay is complete without numerous swims – from the protected shores of Belongil beach at the town’s northern edge, to the 8km wild stretch of ocean of Tallows beach.
Aesthetically, Byron has one of the highest concentration of creative professionals, with an abundance of designers, film-makers, musicians, and writers calling the town home. Byron hosts two of Australia’s most popular music festivals – Byron Blues Fest and Splendour in the Grass – and one of Australia’s most celebrated literary events – the Byron Bay writers’ festival.
Weekends outside school holidays are the best time to enjoy 48 hours in Byron Bay. Here’s how you can make the most of Byron’s treasures.
Byron is considered an east coast’s surfers’ pilgrimage, and even if you’re not catching a wave, the best spot to enjoy the scent of surf wax is at the Pass ... its world-famous, long, and caters to pro surfers and beginners alike.
Also enjoy a great sunset walk to Main beach to witness a splendid dusk sky behind the outstanding peak of Wollumbin and the surrounding hinterland that edges the region.
Bay Lane and Beach Hotel
Enjoy an end-of-day drink in the beer garden of the landmark Beach Hotel at the end of Jonson Street. You can also head to the vibrant Bay Lane for a casual meal at any one of the restaurants for Thai, Italian, fish and chips and falafels.
If you can resist the excitement of Bay Lane and Beach Hotel, head home for an early night because you really don’t want to miss Byron’s sparkling sunrise morning.
Walk the lighthouse loop
Try to make it to the lighthouse walk, as early in the morning as you can. With the first rays of sun, you could spot pods of dolphins at play. Wategos is a great beach for a swim after you’ve finished the loop, and it also gives the short-cut option of walking up the steep lighthouse track back.
Byron has a caffeine addiction just as many other early morning towns. There’s plenty of places to kick start your day with coffee. Local favorites are Top Shop, with a lawn to sprawl in the sunshine, Bay Leaf where the beans are roasted next door and the Roadhouse, just out of town, known for its organic spread and home-brewed kombucha.
Julian Rocks is the jewel of Byron’s crown. Take a boat ride through the break at the Pass to spot the flocks of marine life like leopard sharks, manta rays, and giant turtles. If you’re less adventurous then simply admire the rocks over a long lunch at Byron Beach Cafe, with its panoramic view of the ocean.
Some of the world’s biggest bands do only three shows in Australia; in Sydney, Melbourne ... and Byron Bay. This tiny town is spoiled for live music choice. Catch a live gig at the most popular venues – the Great Northern Hotel and the Railway Hotel. Check out the bursting local gig guide for what’s on.
When it comes to food, Byron can go head-to-head with the standards of the most sophisticated names of Melbourne and Sydney. Choose from the wide range like Rae’s on Wategos for seafood, musician Pete Murray’s Frankie Brown, Italian at the Pacific that's pitched at a cocktail-drinking clientele, for a contemporary Japanese meal, try O-Sushi, and the newest addition to Byron’s fine dining scene, Cicchetti.
Byron is overflowing with yogis and there’s no better than doing yoga to give your day a healthy start. While Byron Bay Yoga Centre, Ananta Yoga and Shiva Shakti offer drop-in classes, the Beachside Yoga and Massage, in the surf club facing the Main beach, is a picturesque spot to start your day with a salute to the sun.
Byron markets and support local artists
In Byron’s markets you can buy local produce like fresh macadamia nuts and sugar cane juice, as well as arts and crafts by local artists. The market runs on the first Sunday of the month year-round or the first and third Sunday of December and January. Byron Bay has plenty of good independent retailers and local fashion stores like Goddess of Babylon, Amilita, Pooch and Samba, Arnhem, and Muther of All Things. Bookworms can head to the bookshops for something written by a local author like Rusty Miller or Bob McTavish for surf legend stories or for fiction, there’s Maggie Groff, Lisa Walker or Jessie Cole.
Go organic for lunch
Byron takes pride for its organic food culture. You mustn’t miss out indulging in a liquid superfood smoothie lunch at Naked Treaties. Also try the Heart and Halo with its selection of prepared vegetarian and vegan hot and cold food. Santos offers some treats to take home, with its cafe and grocery store that celebrate ethical produce.
Don’t leave Byron without a final dip in the ocean at Belongil beach. The Treehouse on Belongil has casual indoor-outdoor decor that makes you feel like hanging out in an old friend’s living room. With wood-fired pizzas, beer and cocktails flowing, there are DJs playing throughout the afternoon. For a more peaceful pace, Belongil Bistro next door has a fantastic menu and wine list. Let the afternoon sun rays sink into your skin with your final Byron Bay tonic.