Byron Bay is a popular surf town a short drive (about 1.5 hours southwest) of the Gold Coast. Known for its excellent surf, beautiful walks, and laid back locals, it’s also full of world class cafés and bohemian boutiques. On a recent trip to Queensland to visit my Canadian cousins, I managed to sneak in a day trip to Byron Bay. Armed with a long list of shops and eateries, we certainly made the most of the 24 hours. While you can accomplish a lot in a day in Byron, I would highly recommend a weekend trip so you can properly relax and fully immerse yourself in the beachy vibes offered up by this picture-perfect destination.
Start the day at Folk or their little sister café, Woods Bangalow. It’s all in the name – the caravan café is serves up an all-organic, vegetarian menu in beautiful outdoor setting. Try the breakfast burrito, muesli or poached eggs and avocado and wash it down with a rainbow assortment of lattes (turmeric, beetroot, spiced pepper, the list goes on…) or opt for something stronger (their espresso is also excellent). You’ll feel like this bustling spot is the place to be, surrounded by fashionable bohemians and hipsters who look like they’ve just left The Falls festival.
If you’re after margaritas and quality Mexican fare, look no further than Miss Margarita We were slightly unimpressed by the service here, but the food was yummy. Try the mango margaritas and fruity Pimm’s punch. Their fish tacos (snapper and squid) are fresh and filling, but the true standout is the mushroom and spinach quesadilla.
Other highly recommended eateries and cafes:
Top Shop: great coffee and scrumptious breakfast. If you’re here for a few days, add this one to your hit list.
Treehouse on Belongil: tapas and shared plates with an Italian theme, this is another Byron hot spot
Balcony Bar & Oyster Co: the place for a sunny afternoon tipple and people watching in Byron, Balcony Bar overlooks one of the busiest parts of the town.
Combi: excellent coffee in the cutest café, I could have easily spent all afternoon here…
Leaf and Grain: another café for another time, the breakfast burgers look out of this world and their white tiles are oh so instagrammable!
Finn Poke: Look for the pink neon sign and white interior, this poke spot has received its fair share of praise.
Spell & The Gyspy Collective: If you need the wardrobe to match your new Byron way of life, the 10-minute walk (from the Main Street) is a must. The light-filled shop caters to the gypset crowd, stocking embroidered dresses, beautiful bikinis and lovely homewares and curiosities. There’s even an outdoor area that plays host to weekly (in the summer) and fortnightly (year-round) workshops and events. Sustainability and conscious consumption is a focus here, and the shop girls are on hand to educate and answer any questions you might have.
Miss Brown Vintage Byron Bay: Speaking of sustainable fashion – Miss Brown’s is Byron’s go-to vintage store, carrying a large assortment of denim shirts, shorts and skirts as well as beautiful dresses and leather goods. I ran out of time whilst rummaging through the racks upon racks of impeccable second-hand threads, but immediately found a handful of gems.
Tigani Lux: Everything you’ll need for a week on the beach, Tigani Lux is full of quality staples. Think gorgeous basket bags, linens staples and beautiful jewellery that you’ll want to wear every day.
Ahoy Trader: Find homewares, exclusive Australian brands and plenty of beach necessities at this cute shop off the main drag. I wanted to transport everything home with me, but unfortunately didn’t have checked luggage.
Girl Overboard: Of course, you’ll want to check out swimwear shops while you’re in Byron Bay – … has all the latest Seafolly and Maje as well as stunning cover-ups and dresses that will take you from lunch to the beach and back
These are only a small selection of many fantastic shops in Byron, wander off the main drag, to the side streets and you’ll find plenty of unique boutiques.
We were staying in the Gold Coast, but I have my eye on the following hotels and accommodations for next time…
28 Degrees: luxury guesthouses in the heart of Byron Bay – I dream of staying here with Nick.
Atlantic Byron: four original Byron Bay cottages that have been lovingly restored. Take a look at their website and swoon…
Whatever you do, make sure you make the trek to the famous Byron lighthouse. Even better if you visit during sunrise or sunset, when the sky takes on a pink and purple hue.
If you’ve ever wanted to take up surfing but haven’t yet had the chance… Byron’s a great spot to catch a wave. We went with Let’s Go Surfing because they offered 1.5 hour courses (rather than the typical 4 hours) and the instruction was friendly and hands on. I would definitely recommend going in a small group (no more than six) especially if you’re new to surfing. Although the waves were quite huge (and can intimidate beginners)…the instructors here will make sure you’re safe.
I had really built Byron up in my mind, envisioning a small, unrushed destination filled with well-dressed hippies and gorgeous surfers and organic cafés. What I wasn’t expecting was to fall for the town’s friendliness and quiet. I anticipated a place that was a little too cool, but experienced quite the contrary. Every local I interacted with seemed pleasant and welcoming, happy to have visitors invade their little slice of heaven.