Top 10 things to do in Byron Bay
When it comes to beachy holidays, Byron Bay has become a place of legends. From sunrise yoga overlooking the surf to brunching at a farm-to-table restaurant in the hinterland, nothing is ordinary about Byron. And getting there is so easy! Just catch an Air New Zealand flight to the Gold Coast, then grab a Byron Bay shuttle or rent a car. Gold Coast Airport to Byron Bay is an easy 50-minute drive south over the border.
If you're wondering what to do and see in Byron Bay, here's a quick guide to places, experiences and events. They all come highly recommended.
1. Walk The Pass and the Cape Byron Lighthouse
When you first arrive in Byron Bay, cut straight to the good stuff with a beach walk to The Pass - the delectable expanse of white sand between Clarkes Beach and Wategos. Here you can throw yourself into a body surfing session, watch the long board riders and generally appreciate the perfection of Byron's best beach. Another option is to continue your on-foot adventure with the Cape Byron lighthouse walk - the Maritime Museum in the base of the tower is full of interesting stories.
2. Sink a bevvy at Stone & Wood brewery
Craft beer and Byron go together like sunshine and sand. At Stone & Wood you can explore the Byron Bay beer scene through a fantastic range of brews made on the premises. You'll find red ales, wheat beers, Australian pale ales and Stone & Wood's specialty Pacific Ale, which is deliciously golden with a big fruity nose. There will also be experimental brews to try, as well as guest beers and ciders from other local producers.
3. Sunrise yoga at Elements of Byron Resort and Spa
Wake up and smell the surf with First Light Beachfront Yoga on the grassy knoll that sits right in front of Belongil Beach, north of Main Beach. Just one of the many delights offered by Elements of Byron, this Byron Bay yoga experience will stretch your spine and your mind. And it's for every level of fitness; you don't need to be a passionate yogi to do your downward dog here.
4. Go whale watching or kayaking to see dolphins
Between May and November, humpback whales are migrating up Australia's east coast in their thousands. While they're passing, many slow down to take a breather in Byron and perform breaches, tail slaps and other amazing whale tricks. Watch for whale action from high up on Cape Byron or get on a Byron Bay whale watching tour. Another way to catch some cetacean action is kayaking with dolphins - the local operators offer expeditions all year round.
5. Byronise your wardrobe at Spell & The Gypsy Collective
Byron's fashion vibe is about looking relaxed-but-amazing in a 'I just threw this on' kind of way. To get the look, head for Spell & The Gypsy Collective, a label best described as bohemian-rocker-chic-goes-to-the-beach, that was started by two sisters in Byron Bay. After you've shopped up a storm, take your new look to Folk, a garden café with a focus on plant-based and vegan eating. They make everything in house here and it's all bursting with flavour and love. Specialties include coconut cold brew, banana hotcakes and acai bowls.
6. Farm to table lunch at Harvest Newrybar
The beautiful hinterland behind Byron Bay is home to charming villages where people do amazing things with fresh food. One of those villages is Newrybar, where you can follow your nose to Harvest - a food-centred business that includes a bakery, deli and restaurant. Open for coffee and takeaways every day of the week, plus lunch and dinner from Wednesdays to Saturdays, Harvest focuses on farm-to-table sustainability with everything it does. It's also big on extreme deliciousness - wait 'til you try their wood-fired sourdough.
7. Wander a fantasyland at the Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens
You sort of expect a unicorn to burst through the shrubbery at Shambhala Gardens, because it's that sort of place - enchanted and full of rare wonders. Here you can sit inside a giant 120 million-year-old amethyst geode crystal known as the 'Dragon Egg'. See the Southern Hemisphere's only Kakachakra World Peace Stupa, a rare monument that has been blessed by the Dalai Lama and discover immense hinterland views on the Buddha Walk. There's a café too, for excellent vegan and vegetarian food.
8. Graze the stalls at Byron Bay Farmers Market
Thursday morning is your chance to sip freshly squeezed cane juice, shop for local artisan foods and rub shoulders with the locals at Byron Bay Farmers Market. Held at the Cavanbah Centre, the market runs for four hours from 7am. Arrive with a rumbling tum, because there are plenty of food stalls ready to tempt you with breakfast tacos, pastries, and bacon and egg rolls, accompanied by live busker music and freshly-roasted organic coffee.
9. Retreat to Halcyon House
North of Byron Bay is gorgeous Cabarita Beach, named 'Australia's best beach for 2020' by Tourism Australia. It is also home to a luxury retreat like no other. Halcyon House made it to Conde Nast's 'Best Hotels in the World' list in 2019, so expect to be totally wowed in every way. Each room and suite has an individual look and feel, the onsite restaurant Paper Daisy has a celebrity chef and a seafront position, and there's a spa ready to pamper all your cares away. Bliss.
10. Catch a Byron Bay festival
Every year Byron Bay hosts some of the best musical festivals in Australia, plus a bunch of others that are related to food, beer, yoga, spiritualism and surfing. Over the New Year, Fall's Festival promises bands to make you dance and art that gets you involved; in April, Byron Bay Bluesfest attracts some of the world's most-loved blues and roots performers; in mid-July, Splendour in the Grass gives you a bit of everything. Those are just the biggies; a dig around online will reveal many more.