Byron Bay is a small coastal town in northern New South Wales, well-known for it’s hippie vibe and chilled out atmosphere. It’s firmly on the backpackers trail, and some say it’s become over commercialised and expensive. There’s a reason destinations become popular though, and Byron Bay still has it. Here’s 5 reasons to visit Byron Bay, and fall in love with this charming seaside town.
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My favourite thing about Bryon Bay is the sunset. Usually on the East Coast of Australia the sun is setting behind you, but the angle of bay at Byron means the sun sets along the beach. It’s really spectacular and something you don’t see much on this side of Australia.
In the evenings the beach is still busy, as people come to watch the suns last rays gleaming over the water and reflecting in the tide. Often there’s live music and people making sandcastles and amazing designs from sand. The atmosphere is magical. You can find a peaceful spot if you wander down towards either end of the beach, or stay in the middle and watch the sun set over evening surfers and other beachgoers like you.
The lighthouse at Byron Bay marks the most eastern point of Australia. There are limited parks so you may need to walk up some of the steep hill but the views are worth the hike! Between May and November every year humpback whales migrate up and down the Australian coastline, and the Byron Bay lighthouse is one of the best places to spot them. If the walk up there wasn’t enough, or you managed to grab one of the parking spots then there are a number of small and bigger walks in the area that can take you further out to the eastern point and around nearby beaches. With so much to see and do, the lighthouse is one of the top spots to visit in Byron Bay
Living in Europe I’m spoiled for choices of cuisines and different kinds of food, but theres something about the foodie culture in Australia that just hasn’t quite made it here yet, especially the brunch food! Byron Bay has a huge number of eateries to suit all tastes, and to challenge you if you want to try something different. There’s some delicious vegetarian and vegan food options, or if you’re my Dad and refuse to not have meat there’s tasty seafood and meat options too. You can walk down almost any street near the centre of town and find small hole in the wall eateries, or bigger restaurants with balconies overlooking the street too. Then there’s the desserts and the cake shops. Byron Bay really knows how to tempt a girl!
The nearby sights
The scenery around Byron Bay is really stunning. There are beaches up and down the coast, craggy rocks and mountains nearby to climb and typical Australian bushland. Nestled further inland from Byron Bay is the even more hippie-vibe town of Nimbin. Back in 1973 the Aquarius Festival was held there and people came in droves to this ground-breaking kind of community style event, and then they never left! You can catch a bright rainbow painted bus from Byron Bay to here and back within a day, or stay overnight. I once slept in a teepee at a hostel in Nimbin!
Byron Bay Bluesfest
If you’re anywhere near Byron Bay in April then you’ll struggle not to hear about the Byron Bay Bluesfest. It’s a huge 5 day event with local and international acts, both new and old. There’s something for everyone there, and even if you don’t know many of the bands (it’s hard not to know the older ones!) then it’s worth the trip for the atmosphere. I think this is as close to a European style festival in Australia that you can get, with an even more chilled out vibe. Seeing John Fogerty perform Creedence Clearwater Revival songs, the Pogues, Hozier, Seasick Steve, Cold Chisel and so many I truly have to think hard to remember them all, at the same festival, is something you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. You can camp or stay in Byron Bay and go out to the Bluesfest each day, plus there are all sorts of different ticket options if 5 days is too much. Hint: it won’t be!
Getting to Byron Bay
Byron Bay is close to the border of Queensland and New South Wales. The nearest main airport would be the Gold Coast, at only about an hour away. Brisbane is around two hours depending on where you’re coming from exactly. You can take the bus, but it’s great if you have a car and can explore some of the nearby areas too.
Given Byron Bay is a popular destination, there’s no shortage of accommodation options. It’s all about your budget and where you want to be. I’ve stayed in hostels in town where we could walk to beach, and in hotels on the outskirts with beautiful views over the countryside, it’s all up to you! Even hostels and some Airbnb places are now advertising on booking.com since they often have zero deposit and free cancellation I’ve started reserving both through there.
Have you been to Byron Bay? What would you add?
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