Cheer Up, Slow down and Chillout
Welcome to Byron Bay, Australia’s most eastern point, it is like teleporting back to a different era and finding yourself in the quintessential beach town.
Full of friendly people in a laid back atmosphere and fantastic surf it is no surprise backpackers choose to hang here for the long haul.
Byron Bay is a small sleepy town just south of the Queensland border and carries much of the surfer vibe that encapsulates the Gold Coast.
Due to its size but mostly because of its personality getting around Byron Bay is best done on foot. Whether you wear shoes is entirely up to you as many of the town’s residents have yet to make up their minds.
Walking is also great because it allows you to mingle with the locals, who, despite being surrounded by tourists every day, remain some of the friendliest people you are likely to meet.
So what is there to do in Byron during the day? The answers are simple: beaches and national parks.
Beaches are to Byron Bay what theme parks are to the Gold Coast, and The Opera House is to Sydney. Take the beaches out of Byron and the town wouldn’t be anywhere near the same.
Let’s start with Main Beach.
This beach is just as good to relax, and people watch as it is to swim and take in calmer waters.
It’s obvious via the name that this is where a fair chunk of the crowd goes, which can be a great or slightly annoying thing based on your perspective.
If you’re trying to get away from the crowd check out the beautiful Belongil Beach, the unofficial nudist beach of Byron Bay.
Great surfing options are never lacking here in Byron, and due to the varying range of difficulty, it is easy to see why many choose to not only come here to surf but also to learn how to.
There are many great places to learn to surf in Byron Bay, take a pick from many of the beaches here or take up a few lessons first. Whatever beach you head to stick to the inside breaks and the smaller waves away from the crowd to build confidence before you head out and tackle the main breaks.
Clarkes Beach which adjoins the Main Beach can have decent surf though further west leads to The Pass, a great surf spot for more experienced surfers, along with Watego’s Bay which is further west along the point. Whichever you choose, you are bound to have some great sessions out on the water.
After an inevitably sweet few days on the water, it is time to ditch your boards for an afternoon and head for a stroll through the local, national parks.
When walking around town, you will, at some point, find yourself surrounded by a beachside national park. The Arakwal National Park is full of stunning scenery including views out to Cape Byron, the country’s most eastern point which is also home a magnificent lighthouse. As well being surrounded by wildlife, you may even spot the occasional wallaby.
The park also holds great significance in Aboriginal culture. The national park has well-groomed trails that lead to all parts including Tallows Beach, a seven-kilometre stretch of sand and ocean which although can exhibit rough seas is excellent for a stroll and even better to avoid the crowds.
A trek to Minyon Falls is also in order if you’re keen for a break from town and in search for some peace and quiet.
On specific times during the week, there are markets on around Byron Bay like the Farmer’s Market that is on every Thursday for great produce and the Byron Bay Market on the first Sunday of every month features live bands, an array of artwork and fresh local yields.
The nightlife in Byron Bay is a nightly event, due both to the influx of tourists without jobs to attend to and also the locals who like nothing more than a few beers as the sun falls.
Therefore venues such as Cheeky Monday’s have a theme for every night of the week such as Mad Mexican on Mondays and Catwalk Wednesdays.
Before you indulge in all of that late-night fun and drinking, it is worth checking out the Beach Hotel, which has a trendy beer garden facing the ocean and live music every Thursday to Sunday. One could only imagine how perfect this place would be after a long, satisfying surf to sink a few beers and watch the night turn dark.
Along with Cheeky Monkey’s another excellent place for an after-hours dance, floor session is Buddha Bar which gets going on Thursdays and Fridays with live DJs and entertainment.
Keen to get away from the bright lights of the club scene and enjoy a boisterous night at the Great Northern. This beery pub features live music most nights of the week and often features touring acts.
To keep up your drinking stamina dine out on the pub’s wood-fired pizza.
Along with great daily activities, Byron Bay also attracts the International Blues and Roots Festival, which is always jam-packed with international acts and strong local talent.
This famous festival takes place over the Easter long weekend.
Byron Bay is home to a few festivals, one of the biggest is the annual four-day Splendour in the Grass.
From long days on the water, afternoons walking the parks and nights kicking back with the friends you’re travelling with and those you have just met, no day in Byron is ever boring but filled with action amongst great people in a great backpacker-friendly environment.