Exploring Byron Bay

Exploring Byron Bay

with Henry Slaughter

Over the years, Byron has transitioned from a hangout for hippies, surfers and vagabonds to an informed, design-savvy destination with global appeal. The few streets are buzzing with an eclectic mix of backpackers, families, artists and locals, with a tendency towards the nomadic individual who continues to hold tightly onto their youthful self. As soon as you pull into town, you can slip into a relaxed version of yourself.

Byron Town
Byron Town

That said, Byron is currently entering a new phase, catering to those with an appreciation for the finer things in life. Its retail offerings rival Sydney and Melbourne, from local fashion boutiques to major designers. And its café and restaurant scene boasts some of the best quality in Australia, with chefs working out of small brunch cafes behind every corner. Try the blueberry pancakes at Espressohead, or enjoy what Bayleaf Cafe or Folk has to offer.

Tallows Beach
Tallows Beach

“You can surf here without even getting your hair wet.”

Byron is a relatively small place, but the beaches seem to go on forever. With or without a car, you’ll be able to spread your towel out and get as burnt as you like, or get in the water and catch some of the friendliest waves of your life. You can surf here without even getting your hair wet.

Wategos Beach
Wategos Beach

Start your day in Byron with a mellow surf at the Pass or Clarkes if you are truly a beginner. Keep in mind that summertime, although beautiful and warm, doesn’t always bring the best swell. To avoid the crowds, take a quick drive or stroll in the direction of the lighthouse to quieter Wategos Beach. If you want even more seclusion, climb the wooden stairwell over the headland to Little Wategos Beach, which is 500 feet long and only accessible by foot. If you keep walking another couple miles, you will reach the “Most Easterly Point of Australia” and then Byron Lighthouse.

Broken Head Beach
Broken Head Beach

Farther south, past Tallows Beach and Suffolk Park towards Broken Head, the crowds will lighten and the coastline becomes exposed — which means generally bigger surf and good cliff walks. This whole area makes for some great exploring of tucked-away beaches and opportunities for photos.

A favorite of the locals is Whites Beach — if you go, act like you know what you’re doing when you show up. It takes a bit of effort to find, but once you’ve made the walk down, you won’t be disappointed.

View from Byron Lighthouse
View from Byron Lighthouse

“Drive slow for a potential koala sighting.”

Driving west will take you toward the hinterlands and through some of the lush Aussie forests — drive slow for a potential koala sighting. If you have five hours to spare you can hike the 5.5 mile trek from Breakfast Creek to the top of Mount Warning, an ancient volcano responsible for shaping the land around Byron Bay.

Lennox Head
Lennox Head

If you’re a surfer you’ll already know you need to head south to the endlessly-photographed right hand point break of Lennox Head. Almost a smaller version of Byron Bay, it too is increasingly home to more upscale restaurants and accommodations.

Bruns Bridge
Bruns Bridge

Byron hosts a rad Thursday market, but heading 15 minutes north on the highway to Brunswick Heads Market on a weekend can score you some good finds, too. If you’re not in the mood to spend any more money, throw your trunks on and join the local kids jumping off the Bruns Bridge. The summertime here is just one big hangout, with the smell of barbecues lingering as you approach the beach. An evening stroll down the sand feels like it could go on forever.

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