I never really believed people when they said, “You must visit Byron – you’d love it!” I always assumed it was would be really touristy and over-rated. And why did people think I’d ‘love’ Byron – was it the surf, beach, weather or the ‘hippy’ influence of the town and surrounding districts? Well it took me one brief visit and I was hooked – literally.
Yes the beaches and surf are fabulous – perfect body surfing waves and clean inviting beaches. The north coast NSW temperatures are suburb – even winter offers a reprieve from Melbourne’s often grey climate. And the ‘hippy’ influence is there – and it has evolved into such diversity of enterprises, communities, fresh and organic lifestyles that punctuate mainly the towns and villages surrounding Byron. And yes, Byron attracts a lot of tourists and the main town’s businesses cater for these, but that is great. Tourists of all ages flock to experience what Byron really has to offer: its ambience and vibe.
Byron Bay is a place you can feel safe as a lone traveller and this is what I do often. From a long weekend to a couple weeks, it offers anyone the opportunity to just ‘be’. You don’t need a car if you are planning on staying around Byron’s main town. Everything you need is in walking distance. If you do plan to explore, a hire car works a treat and well worth it because the drives out into the hinterlands are divine.
My regular haunts as an independent traveller are Ewingsdale’s The Farm where breakfast is a must and the pigs and sunflowers are beautiful. A drive to Bangalow for an afternoon of coffee, shops and monthly Sunday markets are well worth it. You can always find a town or village market any weekend around the district. In Byron I always have to see a film at Pighouse Flicks and grab a hole-in-the-wall fresh fish or prawn taco down the main street at Doña Cholita. Mary Ryan’s Bookshop is a must for all booklovers after you pick up a few packets of delicious Byron Bay Cookies (the triple chocolate are the best). Literally mooching around the town, watching the backpackers in groups laughing and loving their time in Australia is invigorating – oh to be young again! You can finish the day watching the sun go down at Cape Byron Lighthouse.
For the active people – and yes that is me still – daily surfing, yoga, walking, kayaking and paddle boarding can fill your whole day and it helps to stay somewhere that is economical and really comfortable and welcoming. I have now stayed at Byron Beach Resort in Belongil Beach four times. It is a one kilometre walk into Byron Bay and it has everything you need, including a yoga tent that offers Hatha and Yin yoga practice twice daily. Next door is a fabulous restaurant and bar called Treehouse and it often has bands over the weekend.
So yes, I love Byron. I am heading there for the third time this year next month thanks to Elysian Travel’s encouragement and I can’t wait. If you have not experienced it yet – please do by contacting Ryan at Elysian Travel and he’ll get you on your way!
Louisa – An Elysian Traveller