From classic beach houses to designer chic resorts, Byron Bay has accommodation for everyone.
By Sue Gough Henly
Beautiful beachside Byron Bay on the New South Wales subtropical North Coast offers a little bit of magic for a lot of people. A long-time surfing hotspot, it has become the New Age epicentre of Australia, offering all manner of yoga classes and alternative treatments. It is also a popular destination for food lovers, families and all who enjoy its laid-back lifestyle.
Barefoot luxury: Elements of Byron
If you want plenty of space to relax, Elements of Byron sprawls across 20 hectares (49 acres) behind a beautiful white sand beach. Its 94 villas nestle among native bush around a lagoon and along a water lily covered creek on the outskirts of town. There's a gorgeous resort pool and a swooping pavilion that offers contemporary alfresco dining with fresh, local fare. The divine Osprey spa is all driftwood and neutral tones. A range of indulgent facial and body therapies are on offer, using Australian made products featuring gold, diamonds and rose quartz. Studios from AUD$380 a night.
Classic Aussie beach houses: Clarkes Beach Cottages
There's something built into the Australian DNA that summertime must be spent with family and friends in a simple beach house from which you can hear the surf. You too can live the dream in one of four beach houses renovated by the Cape Byron Trust and tucked into bushland with dress circle views of beautiful north-facing Clarkes Beach. Originally sand miners’ shacks, they have been beautifully restored with modern conveniences and a few retro touches. Louvred windows let in the sea breezes and big beach-facing decks are complete with barbecues. Cottages from AUD$425 a night.
Suites in the rainforest: Byron at Byron
If a rainforest experience is more your style, Byron at Byron is a luxurious all-suite resort tucked into 45 hectares (111 acres) of palm trees, paperbarks and cypress pines. Screened porches and spacious living spaces make this a perfect relaxing locale. A delightful open-air restaurant overlooks the pool and there are free yoga classes every morning as well as a gym, spa and tennis court. Rooms from AUD$404 a night.
Bohemian backpackers: Arts Factory Lodge
Set in natural bush behind the Pighouse Flicks lounge cinema and the Byron Bay Brewery, the Arts Factory Lodge offers one of Byron Bay's most chilled-out hostel settings, around a communal swimming pool complete with hammocks. There are dorm rooms, teepees and camping/campervan options with a café and hostel kitchen. There are also bush tucker walks, didgeridoo lessons, weekly talent shows and yoga, reiki and African drumming sessions. Dormitory beds from AUD$34 a night.
Seaside Mediterranean villa: Rae’s on Wategos
Rae's on Wategos delivers a touch of exotic glamour behind one of Byron's tucked-away surf beaches. Its curvy facade is whitewashed in a Greek villa-style with stained timber shutters. Its interiors are full of art and antiques and feature Italian marble floors, Balinese teak furniture and Moroccan archways. The terrace restaurant, with its cushioned seats overlooking the beach, is a magical spot for an alfresco meal. There's also a small pool and intimate spa. It is an easy walk to the town's lighthouse, which sits just off the easternmost point of Australia. Suites from AUD$600 a night.
Absolute beachfront: North Coast Holiday Parks, Clarkes Beach
This beachfront holiday park set amid natural bush overlooking stunning Clarkes Beach is proof that Byron Bay is a very democratic place. It's hard to imagine a more appealing locale for families, with its terrific selection of cabins, powered and non-powered sites. There's a playground, shop, laundry and even free wi-fi. The terrific Byron Beach Café is next door and the town's shops and restaurants are a short stroll away. Campsites from AUD$46 a night.
Coastal chic guesthouse: The Atlantic
This three-cottage retreat channels Byron Bay's laid-back coastal style with decor inspired by Caribbean guesthouses and Byron's surf culture. The 15 guestrooms have decks overlooking the tranquil subtropical gardens dotted with day beds and a small lap pool. There's even an American Airstream caravan you can stay in. Guests share the many common areas, including well-equipped communal kitchens where you can cook up feasts with produce from the local farmers markets. The helpful staff offer insider tips and lend surfboards, bikes and DVDs. Rooms from AUD$200 a night.
Tucked-away affordable gem: Oasis Apartments and Treetop Houses
With open-plan apartments and spacious split-level treetop houses set in tropical gardens, this is a terrific option for families. There's a heated pool and spa, sauna, gym, tennis court and undercover barbecue area. And it is just a short 400 metre (quarter-mile) walk through the bush and dunes of Arakwal National Park to the long stretch of Tallow Beach. Two-bedroom apartments from AUD$255 a night.
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