Mention Byron Bay, and people start day dreaming about crystal clear waters, the lighthouse and surf that’s perfect for starting a lifelong addiction. And rightly so. However, what most people don’t realise is that the whole region – both surf side and the hinterland areas, have so much to offer in terms of delicious food, stunning markets and a laid back, wellness focused vibe. The area is therefore not just a beach destination but ultimate holiday for just about anyone, whether a beach bunny or not. Over the Christmas holidays I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks just north of Byron with my family (in fact we’ve been holidaying in ther area since I was knee high, my family mother’s side of the family have a farm at the back of Mullumbimby), and truly got to indulge in the delights of this part of the world. I thought I would do a round up of my favourites for you.
A Quick Guide To Byron Bay
Byron is a great place to base yourself if you’re after a centrally located (and sometimes busy) experience, but if you want something more laid back the towns of Brunswick Heads and Lenno Heads have a lot to offer, as do the hinterland areas with their rolling green hills and dairy farms (without the issue of traffic you’ll experience at Byron during peak times). I’ve seen photos of The Atlantic and Arcadia House which look like gorgeous options in Byron, but your best bet is to rent a house or an apartment, for which I would use Airbnb or a local real estate agent.
- Walk the Cape: The perfect morning in Byron goes a little something like this – Starting at Clark’s Beach, hike past Wategoes and up to the Lighthouse. You’ll naturally want to snap the cape and even grab a tea at the cafe, but save your breakfast for the return trip when you can have a swim at Clark’s and breakfast at Top Shop or the Byron Beach Cafe.
- Day trips: With so many lovely towns dotted around the region, once you get sick of the beach (if you do) you should definitely think about taking a day trip to Bangalow, Newryvar, Mullumimby or Brunswick Heads (depending on where you’re staying obviously). Combine it with lunch at one of the places listed in the eating section and you’re got yourself a pretty great day!
- Learn to surf: The waves around The Pass in Byron Bay are perfect for learning to surf, and this is a great place to do it. There are lots of good schools around including this one.
- Beaches: It’s honestly hard to choose a bad beach in the region, but some are more sheltered than others including the (truly) magical beaches at The Pass, Wategoes and Broken Heads. Other favourites in the region include Clark’s Beach, Torakina beach in Brunswick Heads (which is perfect for children) and the main beaches at Belongil and Brunswick Heads.
- Festivals: The region has an amazing schedule of yearly festivals including Falls Festival, The Blues & Roots Festival, Splendour in the Grass, the Mullumbimby Arts Festival and lots of other niche festivals on topics like yoga and wellness. If you can time your trip for one of these it’s a great idea, but be aware that the area gets busy and accommodation prices sky rocket during these times.
- Markets: The region has honestly the best produce I’ve ever had, and foodies can pretty much base their trips around the various weekly produce markets. My particular favourites are the Mullumbimby Farmer’s Markets (every Friday 7am – 11am) which are perfect for breakfast, New Brighton Farmer’s Markets (every Tuesday 7am – 11am) which are similar to the Mullumbimby ones, and the Byron Markets which are quite big and a more mixed bag of food, clothing and craft, and alternately located at Byron Bay, Bangalow or Channon (check their website for dates).
- Spell & The Gypsy: There are plenty of shops in Byron Bay, many of which have a boho chic vibe going on, but none do it as well as Spell, a cult brand that will make you want to wear your printed maxi dresses and eyelet lace at your corporate job when you get home.
- Driftlab: A great store with lots of my favourite brands, this is the perfect place to pick up a new bikini or dress. There’s one adjoining Harvest in Newrybar which makes it a great stop off after lunch!
Eat & Drink
- Yami’s, Brunswick Heads – A little deck built over the street is the no frills setting for the best felafels you’ll have in your whole life. I DREAM of this food.
- Harvest, Newry Bar – We treated ourselves at this rustic house in the hills, and had the most delicious lunch and stocked up on bread and jams (made on the premises!) from their deli. For a more low key approach you can pop by on a Saturday when the restored bakery building turns into coffee and produce shop.
- The Topshop, Byron Bay – Yummy food and coffee served by hipsters in a little house in Byron Bay.
- Footbridge Cafe, Brunswick Heads – Another meal I dream about when I’m in other parts of the world, these guys nail produce and the service is the best (and happiest) in the business. My pick? A Jack’s breakfast and a Chai tea. You can thank me later.
- Doma, Federal – A couple of Japanese chefs opened this lovely cafe in a tiny hill town, serving absolutely delicious Japense salads and sushi – we loved the hand rolls!
- Belongil Bistro, Belongil – We stopped in here for an early breakfast after a swim at Belongil, you can’t go wrong.
- Milk & Honey, Mullumbimby – Get your stone baked pizza fill here, you won’t be disappointed!
- Byron Beach Cafe, Byron – Located on Clark’s Beach, this is the perfect spot for a fry up after you’ve walked the cape.
- Miss Margarita, Byron Bay – Fun and fresh mexican restaurant across from the Beach Hotel.
- Brunswick Heads Hotel – My favourite pub in the region, with an outdoor beer garden shaded by trees and loads of live music.
- Beach Hotel, Byron Bay – Another great live music venue, this spot also houses The Italian which is a lovely spot for cocktails.
- Folk, Byron Bay – A converted shipping container/shack with a laid back vibe and an amazing breakfast – get the abundance bowl!
- Rice, Brunswick Heads – Delicious Asian fusion food.
Lunch at Doma
Shopping in Ballina
Brunswick Heads Main Beach
Put the Cape Walk at the top of your list.
The Brunswick River (can you feeeeel that serenity?)
Best felafels I have ever had at Yami’s
Dropping into Spell Designs
Early morning priorities
Imagining this as my living room at Folk Cafe
Start every day with a smoothie 🙂
Brunswick Heads river and Torakina beach (perfect for kids or those who like to wallow)
Starting happy hour early.
I have this thing with breakfasts…
Rosewater and strawberry smoothie, yes!
Mullumbimby Farmer’s Markets, make sure to go early for breakfast!
The cliff walk
You’ll never want to leave… Trust me!