Mainland Australia's easternmost town is a melting pot of surf culture, alternative lifestyles and hedonistic pursuits.
By Ellie Schneider
Unwind in mainland Australia's easternmost town. It's home to excellent beaches, lush rainforests, great regional dining and new-age retreats. You won't want to leave.
How to get there
Domestic flights arrive at Ballina Airport, a 25 minute drive south of Byron Bay, or at Gold Coast Airport, a 45 minute drive north of Byron Bay. Many people choose to drive to Byron Bay: it’s about a nine hour drive north from Sydney or a two hour drive south from Brisbane.
- Swim or surf at picturesque beaches
- Feast on delicious local produce
- Climb spectacular clifftop walking trails
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Top things to do in Byron Bay
Head to the beach
Byron Bay's endless beaches and reliable surf breaks have been attracting surfers for years. But today its beaches draw visitors for meditation, walking and sheltered swimming as much as their tubular waves. Kayak through clear waters beside a pod of bottlenose dolphins in Cape Byron Marine Park, or snorkel or scuba dive among sea turtles at Julian Rocks. Hit the popular right-hand point break, The Pass, halfway between Main Beach and the Cape Byron Headland. First-time surfers can book a group or private lesson with Let’s Go Surfing. Ride along isolated Seven Mile Beach on horseback or practise yoga while overlooking the ocean at Beachside Yoga and Massage.
Discover Byron's thriving food scene
Byron's town centre is home to a host of cafés, serving everything from sinful breakfasts to cold-pressed juices and gelato. Travel just a little way out of town and you can delve into a new breed of eateries. Visit Three Blue Ducks in Byron, set on a working farm on the outskirts of Byron Bay that's home to heritage-breed pigs, Scottish Highland cattle and chickens. Its wholesome menu emphasises local produce in dishes such as house-cured salmon, sticky spiced lamb shoulder and Byron Bay haloumi. Book well in advance for the degustation at Fleet, a 22-seat restaurant and wine bar in nearby Brunswick Heads that has garnered serious acclaim on Australia's culinary scene. For a taste of the region's diverse flavours, visit the 300-stall Byron Bay Community Market, held on the first Sunday each month.
Tune into nature
Natural beauty abounds wherever you are in Byron Bay. Walk the Cape Byron track as dawn breaks, and be one of the first people in Australia to salute the sun. The 3.7 kilometre (2.3 mile) loop leads through rainforest and windswept cliffs, with panoramic views across the ocean and hinterland. Keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales, which migrate along the coast between June and November. Out of town, hike to the rim of Mount Warning (a five hour return walk) and take in 360-degree views stretching from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast. In World Heritage-listed Nightcap National Park, you can walk through dense rainforest and pristine creeks to the base of Minyon Falls or meet nocturnal animals, including bandicoots, pademelons, tawny frogmouths and possums, on a night vision walk.
Get your heart racing
Byron Bay may be known for its laid-back lifestyle, but there are still plenty of activities to get your heart racing. Soar above the Cape Byron Lighthouse and Wategos Beach on a 30 minute tandem hang glide. Or join a scenic joy flight above the magnificent coastline and over the rugged ridges of Mount Warning. For the ultimate adrenaline rush, freefall from extreme altitudes of up to 4.3 kilometres (14,000 feet) with Skydive Byron Bay, enjoying spectacular views across the beach and hinterland. If you'd rather stay closer to ground, try a mountain bike tour through the subtropical rainforests and ancient volcanic terrain of Byron's hinterland.
Find inner peace
Rejuvenate and rebalance at one of the many health retreats in and around Byron Bay. The region is renowned for its alternative healing practices, such as acupuncture, reflexology, aromatherapy, reiki, yoga and massage. Internationally renowned Gaia Retreat and Spa is set among rolling hills and lush rainforest and offers a number of packages to revive, renew, refresh and restore, with activities such as daily morning yoga, boxing and Pilates. Or try Byron Wellbeing Retreats, which pairs daily yoga and mediation with your choice of surfing lessons, detox therapies or raw food cooking classes.
Experience one of the coolest hotels in the world
The new Elements of Byron resort was recently named as among the 25 coolest hotels in the world by Forbes Magazine. See for yourself what the fuss is all about. With only a 3.8% building footprint across 20 hectares (50 acres) of absolute beachfront paradise guests can relax in the surrounding rainforest, complete with tranquil lake, tea tree creek and ponds.
The hotel also won the highest international award for Hotel Design, making it a memorable accommodation option. Even if you don’t stay here, consider stopping by for Fire Pit Fridays, held weekly from 5 - 7pm, where you can soak up the vibe with complimentary nibbles and live music. To get there just catch the world’s first solar train from Byron township along the 3 kilometre (1.9 mile) coastal track to Elements of Byron and the burgeoning North Beach precinct.