Byron Bay requires little introduction. Australia’s most easterly resort town, adored by celebrities and backpackers alike, it’s a place where losing and finding yourself are both equally valid reasons to visit.
The gorgeous beaches, the lighthouse shining atop the cape, dolphins sharing party waves with surfers and kayakers… the beauty of this northern NSW hotspot is legendary. Yet it’s not all about the namesake bay. The town itself is a big part of its enduring appeal.
Though Byron has reinvented itself more times that Madonna, from former whaling station and 80s hippie haven to the Instagrammable mecca of today, it has retained a consistent x-factor. Clapped out kombis parked alongside Maserati’s with surfboards on the roof, the freedom and acceptance to be whoever you are… it has a distinct vibe all of its own.
Living up to its global reputation, Byron also delivers a sensational mix of places to eat, stay and play – for every budget and taste. Here’s a primer for some of its best.
Where to stay in Byron Bay
As the sign on the road into Byron proclaims: “Cheer up, slow down, chill out’. There’s no need to rush. Keep your hand away from that car horn. Your holiday starts now.
With that mantra in mind, Byron’s hotels are designed to help you switch off your phone and embrace the here and now. And feel really good doing it too. Whether a cheeky romantic escape or travelling with the kids, there’s a hotel with your name on it.
The Atlantic Byron Bay
A tropical oasis in downtown Byron Bay, The Atlantic has transformed the classic beach shack into a thing of beauty. A hop, skip or bicycle ride from great bars and restaurants, the boutique hotel offers a range of room options that are big on personality and panache.
Elements of Byron
There’s more to this beachfront resort than meets the eye. Behind its soaring façade, lagoon pool and indulgent day spa, the stars of this hideaway are its secluded villas. Hidden amongst paper barks and coastal banksias, each feels like a little oasis from the world. The adults only pool and swim up bar is somewhere you probably won’t want to leave either.
Discovery Parks Byron Bay
Not just for families, Discovery Parks is one of the best value options in town. It boasts a range of cabins and camping options, complemented by surprisingly affordable (and stylish) safari tents and deluxe two-bedroom cabins overlooking the lake, and even a water park for the kids.
Love a hotel that look goods on the Gram? The Bower is for you – every angle looks lifted from the pages of Vogue. The tropical gardens and circular swimming pool are stunning, and the wide range of room types – light and bright studios, moody king suites, a refurbished 100-year-old cottage – are almost as individual as you are.
The Lord Byron
This icon institution has been a part of Byron’s hotel scene for what feels like forever. Thanks to a massive renovation a couple of years ago it remains as fresh and exciting as ever. The vintage-luxe vibe and location make it a fantastic holiday base. If you prefer to be a little closer to the beach, try their equally amazing sister property The Surf House.
Where to eat
From cheap eats to memorable meals, Byron has you covered.
Mark + Vinny’s Place
Innovative dishes, sustainable practices, a relaxed atmosphere and the heart and soul of Italian home style cooking – people of Byron Bay, we envy you for having this right on your doorstep! Mark + Vinny’s Place is the latest venture by Mark Filippelli and Vince Pizzinga, owners of the flagship restaurant in Sydney’s inner city suburb of Surry Hills. A quick glance at the menu will have you salivating. The Byron outfit’s signature dishes include a Ferrero Rocher arancini made with chocolate risotto (miraculously vegan!), the famous bright blue spirulina linguini with soft shell crab, and a remarkable Bucatini carbonara which features a googy vegan egg made from local heirloom tomatoes. Both Byron and Sydney restaurants are vegan friendly – more than 50% of the menu items are plant-based – and invite diners to try something a little different.
The people watchers’ venue of choice, Balcony occupies prime real estate upstairs above Lawson Street. Seafood is the star of the show here – try and stop at just one oyster. Be sure to check out their amazing Drag & Dine featuring local drag queens each Sunday night.
Good food and great vibes go hand-in-hand at Bang Bang, a late-night modern Asian venue on the corner of Fletcher and Byron Streets. The shareable menu includes fragrant yellow curry, bao buns with butter poached Moreton Bay bugs, and crispy twice-cooked duck.
This retro-styled diner in the middle of town sums up everything that’s great about modern Vietnamese. The freshness, the flavour, and the talent required to make simple dishes sing… it’s a place that’ll make you believe in ‘love at first bite’.
Main Street Burger Bar
The humble burger has been perfected at this local fave right in the heart of town. Their vegan spiced jackfruit or classic southern fried chicken burgers, loaded fries on the side, washed down with a bottle of beer or kombucha will take you foodie nirvana.
Inspired by head chef Francisco Smoje’s global travels, this relaxed bar and eatery is one for lovers of low-and-slow cooking over charcoal. Every dish is a symphony of flavour, a perfect combination of simple ingredients cooked with respect. Try the baked cauliflower!
The Byron Bay General Store
In the mood for a healthy smoothie, mushroom burger or acai bowl? Byron General Store needs to be on your radar. This hipster hangout is a favourite with locals and visitors, with a certain Hollywood celebrity (who shall not be named) said to also be a regular.
Though Byron may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying its appeal. It’s a place for the young and the old, for the overworked and carefree, for the spiritual or those just in need of escape to slow things down and embrace living in the moment.
How to get to Byron Bay
Rex Airlines flies directly to Ballina (Byron Bay) from Sydney on a daily basis. See the map below for details on how to travel to Byron Bay and book your flight here.