Byron Bay Overview
- Pristine beaches that go on forever
- Coast Life
- Chillin’ with like-minded souls
Some jokingly refer to Byron Bay as the most northern suburb of Sydney – everything you can find in the big smoke is on your doorstep here, too.
There’s also a charming ‘peace, love and mung beans’ vibe about this beach town that attracts stressed-out, well-to-do city folk and backpackers from all corners of the earth. The New Age, eco-friendly lifestyle here has made Byron the yoga capital of Australia, with a smorgasbord of alternative therapies on offer from massage to flotation tanks, plus healthy, organic food to match. If you can tear yourself away from your mellow day spa, there are rolling hills for walking and splendid beaches to swim, dive and surf off. Add to this northern New South Wales town laid-back – yet glam – bars and restaurants and you’ve got one of Australia’s best-loved destinations.
Beautifully Byron Bay
If you want to realign your chakras, relax with some reiki or generally blitz your tired bod, you’ve definitely come to the right place. Alternative therapists have set up shop all over town, and there are more yoga teachers here, per capita, than anywhere else in the country. Ask a local for a recommendation or pick up a copy of the Byron Body & Soul Guide from the tourist office.
- You don’t really need a cab to get around the town itself (if you’re tired, hail a Cycle Rickshaw) but they can be handy if you want to head further out. To book, call Byron Bay Taxis (02 6685 5008).
- Tipping culture
- Not necessary, but adding five to 10 per cent to the bill is a nice gesture if you had a great time or received excellent service.
- Siesta and fiesta
- The shops always seem to be open during the day, and cafes open early to cater to the yoga and beach-walk crowd. Most restaurants will take orders until about 10pm (though most people eat earlier in Australia). Especially during summer and on the weekends, the pubs and bars stay open until late.
- Packing tips
- Designer swimmers, yoga mat, Havaianas.
- Recommended reads
- Robert Drewe’s The Bodysurfers, a collection of short stories set by the beach, is considered an Australian classic. Pure escapism is how you’d describe The Bay, a novel by Australia’s best-selling female author Di Morrissey. Legendary surfer Nat Young lives at Angourie, about 100 kilometres south of Byron. His The Complete History of Surfing should keep devotees entertained while they’re lying on the beach.
- It’s clean and green up here. Casual, too. It’s only in the past couple of years that true fine dining has come to Byron Bay, and most people still tend to eat in a more relaxed fashion. You’ll find cuisines from around the world, cool cafés serving up country-sized servings, and plenty of options for vegetarians and devotees of organic food. This is, after all, the epicentre of alternative culture.
- Regional specialities
- The lush hills of the hinterland are home to tropical crops: coffee, macadamia nuts (absolutely superb coated in chocolate) and exotic fruits like custard apples and lychees.
- Australian dollar (AUD$).
- Time zone
- GMT +10 hours.
- Dialling codes
- The international code for Australia is 61. Byron Bay: 02 (drop the zero when calling from overseas).
- Do go/don't go
- During the warmer months (November to March), Byron Bay seethes with life and it’s best to avoid December and January when the area is bombarded by ‘schoolies’ (teenagers who have just finished Year 12) and families on holiday. It’s also peak wedding season in romantic Byron. Though the sea is a little chilly for swimming, winter here (June to August) is perfect: calm, sunny and warm – with far fewer tourists.
Don't go home without...
sipping on a chilled bottle of Ginger Nektar, the handmade drink produced locally from ginger, rainwater, honey and lemon. You can buy it in just about all the cafés and general stores around Byron.