When researching and planning for our time in Australia I stumbled upon several blogs that mentioned Byron Bay as a wonderful beach town along the coast. I knew we had to stop here and stay for a little while, so we booked five nights and six days.
As we approached Byron Bay and our GPS alerted us to exit the freeway toward Bangalow, we knew we were entering a special place. We drove along Bangalow Road with hills rolling on either side of us, mesmerized by the perfectly manicured farmland and the lush forests at the bottom of the hillside. The surrounding hinterland was quite unlike anything we had seen on our drive through the country.
On our first night in Byron Bay we rented a room from a couple who lived just a short walk from the main thoroughfare in town. The backyard was home to an overflowing garden of produce and herbs, the hallways were decorated with statues of Buddha, and the house rules suggested that guests “shower with a friend” to save water. After dropping our luggage we walked into town in search of dinner. The first thing we noticed on our walk was that shoes seemed to be optional, and not just at the beach – on the sidewalks, in the grocery store, at the coffee shops. We had heard that it was a laid back town that attracted hippies, surfers, and backpackers, and for a brief moment we wondered what we were getting ourselves into.
We kept heading down toward the beach, though, and we stumbled upon the most delicious Mexican restaurant. (It reminded us of one of our favorite San Francisco restaurants.) After indulging in a few margaritas and some guacamole, any hesitation we had toward Byron Bay melted away.
We spent the next four nights staying about ten minutes south of town in Suffolk Park, and we quickly fell in love with the entire Byron Bay Area. Below you’ll find some of our favorite activities, restaurants, beaches, and more:
– Tea tree lakes – It took us many google searches and a bit of driving around to find these famed tea tree lakes. Apparently there are several of them in the area, but we went to the one just beyond Broken Head beach. Legend has it that the lakes have healing qualities because when tea tree plants grow beside a lake their supernatural oil drips down into the water, creating something like a “medical bath.” They color the water so it looks like a cup of tea with an oily film on top. The Bundjalung Aborigines of the North East Coast of New South Wales were the first to use the tea tree plant for medical reasons. The women of these tribes even birthed their children in the lakes.
– Surfing lessons – Neither of us had surfed before, but it was on our bucket list. And what better place to learn than in Australia?! We booked a lesson with a guy named Gaz, who has been surfing since he could swim and runs one of the best surf companies in the area. It was a lot of fun (and a lot of work)!
– The lighthouse – One of the most popular attractions in Byron Bay is the lighthouse. We took one morning and walked there from one of the parking lots below. The lighthouse itself is beautiful, and it also gives gorgeous views of the surrounding beaches. The highlight for us was seeing a whale in the distance on our way back down.
– Beaches – We visited the main beach in town, Tallow Beach (where we saw a 5 foot python), Captain Cook’s Beach (where we went surfing), Wategos beach (near the lighthouse), and Broken Head (where we had drinks at sunset). They are all amazing!
– Eat and drink at any of the amazing places in the area…
Eat & Drink:
– Roadhouse – Home of the best iced coffee I’ve ever had. Several locals recommended this spot to us, and we’re so glad we went. We went in the morning and had breakfast tacos and avocado toast (along with the aforementioned coffee), but the lunch and dinner menus looked delicious as well. We even made a second stop on our way out of town the next day.
– The Farm – This farm/restaurant/shop/playground is serene. We ate lunch at the restaurant, Three Blue Ducks, and it was some of the best food of our entire trip. What we should have done, we later realized, was order sandwiches from the deli counter (a much cheaper option) and sat outside to enjoy the scenery. After lunch we toured the grounds, watched the farm animals, and took a break on the “Gratitude Bench.” I’ll tell you what I’m grateful for…
– Miss Margarita – I wrote a bit about this above. Tasty margaritas, good guacamole, and burritos. We loved it so much we went twice.
– Pat & Stick’s Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches – Not a restaurant, but these ice cream sandwiches are made in New South Wales and were such a treat. They come in several flavor combinations – we tried chocolate chip cookie with strawberry ice cream and chocolate cookie with vanilla ice cream. Delish!
Byron Bay, you are magic. We hope to see you again some day!