Byron Bay Breezes
Byron Bay: that barefoot guy at the party that insisted on bringing his guitar. He may play ‘Wonderwall’ and talk about his raw food and cannabis diet a little too much, but you can’t deny that his passion is endearingly contagious. He has an effortless way of making you feel welcome and accepted.
It’s hard to put words to it, but the atmosphere in this bitty beach town is just simply, happy. A deep inhale fills your lungs with salty air and your heart with calming contentment. The most important thing to do in Byron Bay while you’re there is relax and enjoy the radiant people and environment. It’s a huge change of pace from the thick throngs of tourists in Sydney, because here you’re mostly surrounded by locals (look for dreads) or fellow wanderlust infused backpackers. When you’re not hanging loose at the charming beach, here are some other Byron Bay activities to try.
Hike to the Lighthouse
This 3.7 kilometer path has captivating coastal views and a lot of potential for whale and dolphin watching, so bring binoculars! You sort of feel like you’re at the edge of the world once you’ve reached the summit of the hike. Well, you are literally at the most easterly point of Australia, but it’s more than that. Pro tip: the walk is most picturesque when done at sunrise or sunset.
I actually went surfing in Surfer’s Paradise (spoiler alert for my next blog), but the gentle waves in Byron Bay are supposedly the best for beginners. Also, it's not too crowded in the water and board rentals are cheap cheap cheap.
Take a day trip to Nimbin
Nimbin is a quirky town about an hour from Byron Bay that is famous for its counterculture concentrated on weed. It's very small, with a population of 1668. Wikipedia will tell you its population is 420, gotta love that site's public editing policy. If that joke is lost on you go here. When you arrive, you feel like you just traveled back in time, to a place where jobs and worries simply don't exist. Take this tye-dye dog for example, not a care in the world.
It only takes an hour or so to see everything the town has to offer. It's kind of like peopleofwalmart.com, amusing, guaranteed a good laugh, but after a while you need to hit the exit button because it can get overwhelmingly peculiar.
Nightcap National Park
This is perfect to pair with the previous activity mentioned because it’s smack dab in the middle of Nimbin and Byron Bay. Some companies, like Grasshoppers Nimbin, will take you to the town and Minyon Falls. There’s tons to see here, but one spot you have to go to, if you’re not too afraid of heights, is Minyon Falls.
Hostel info: I stayed in two different ones:
Arts Factory Lodge - 4 out of 5 suns. My favorite thing about it was the sense of community. Not to mention, the hostel is iconic because it was featured in The Inbetweeners 2, a movie you positively need to watch before you go to Australia.
It’s just like how they portray it in the movie, most tenants are vagabonds who are really, how should I say it, in touch with nature? They had a cafe right in the hostel that was the cat's pajamas. They had delicious juices, pancakes, and cheap dinner options that you could purchase for 3 bucks or so.
free shuttle service (its a It’s about a 15 minute walk from the city)
charge for wifi
Aquarius Backpackers Resort - 3 out of 5 suns. This is more of a hostel for partiers who want to be close to the beach and bars. They have fun events every night and their front desk staff is really helpful!
charge for Wifi
free shuttle service
free dinner every night
Favorite person I met along the way: Garreth, a travel agent at a company called Happy Travels.
I wanted to book excursions for the rest of the coast, so I went into one of the many travel agencies in Byron Bay (there’s so many). Garreth was a profitable real estate agent from the UK that left his comfortable life to seek a more fulfilling job. You'll meet a lot of people like that in Australia. He said he loves being a travel agent because he gets to be around like minded people, help others accomplish their travel dreams, and most importantly, he doesn't have to wear shoes. We spent about 5 hours planning the rest of my trip and chatting about everything from koalas, to breakfast foods, to philosophical life theories.
Fun fact: Byron Bay has been known to be a place of resting, healing, and fertility for thousands of years, according to aboriginal history. Once you are healed, however long that takes, you must either move on or help heal others.