My memories of the laid back, boho paradise of Byron Bay are still quite vivid. Even as I write this (guiltily) many months after having left. From handmade signs promoting nude bike rides to cheeky beers at the beach. The little hippy town was always up to something fun. Here’s a little glimpse at summer down under.
Byron Bay Surf Festival
If you love something, set it free! Or… why not go back 3 times? This was how I felt about Byron Bay. It had peaked my interest our first quick stop through and I knew I’d be back. We arrived back in town just in time to catch the annual Byron Bay Surf Festival. The event happens every February, which in the southern hemisphere is smack dab in the heat of summer. Teepees lined up in rows scattered with artisans, local brands, surfboards, and Kombi vans were a visual treat. As we walked amongst the vendors stylie set ups, I happened to run into a gal from New Zealand I had corresponded with over email about a year prior. She had started her own surf wear brand called Salt Gypsy, that specialized in sustainable women’s surf wear and was looking for potential artist collaborations. We were both surprised having run into each other there at a festival all the way in Oz. It was an awesome full circle moment for me, knowing that a connection made online could result in an accidental run in, 8,000 miles from home. Guess that’s what they call it a small world, or how easy it can be if you are making connections and aligning with the right people in your industry!
Where to stay? – Byron Bay Beach Hostel
Our accommodation this time around in Byron was at the contemporary Byron Bay Beach Hostel. I’ve stayed in a lot of hostels, and this one was up there for its location, cleanliness, and design. Very clean and modern with large open concept kitchen area, a rooftop restaurant and bar. The night we arrived they were baking pizza’s outside on the rooftop deck. We gathered with other guests over beers as we listened to an older backpacker share about his many attempts at traveling over the last handful of years. The guy was in his late 70s, and said this was his third attempt at backpacking down the coast. But every time he left he would have to return home to pay respects to one of his friends that passed away. Sitting there sharing stories in his tie-dye Byron Bay Tee, he told us just how little he brings with him each time he goes. Just a small bag and his guitar, saying he “collects only smiles and tee shirts” along the way. Something I think would actually make a great t-shirt one day.
All the food and drinks
One of the best parts of Byron Bay, was all the rad places to eat and drink. We never ran out of places to try and I’m sure there are still loads more we missed. But these were the favs that I remember:
Stone & Wood Brewery: Craft beer, great design and my favorite beer in Oz. The brewery is located just outside of the main part of town and hosts a nice tasting room where you can order beer flights by the paddle. Decor, tiles, good branding and brews? Heavenly.
Byron Fresh Cafe: Great spot for people watching and listening to live music played on the street over a cup of coffee. Located on the main Jonson St. of Byron Bay this cozy cafe had delicious food that had me coming back for more as I tried breakfast lunch and even went for a solo dinner on the veranda.
Main St. Burger Bar :We stumbled across this burger joint, also very well designed with a fun menu and atmosphere we were able to gather for a night of burgers, beers and even cards at the dinner table. Best burger joint in town.
The Bolt Hole : Too late for dinner but a little early for drinks? Bolt House is a great find. They have great bbq menu and creative cocktail bar. Located off the main loop of town, this dimly lit upstairs bar really feels like a little hole in the wall shipwreck find.
La La Land Lounge: Located just across the road from the Byron Bay Beach Hostel is a fun upstairs garden like lounge with covered patio bar. This spot had a good atmosphere and a fun music if you’re feeling a bit dance-y.
The Northern: A tavern/ pub that is a great spot for a beer and a dance to live music.
Combi: Hip organic cafe with awesome decor and good vibes
Boho Fashion Vibes
In addition to good eats, if you’re into boho fashion and home decor this was the hub. Loads of colorful boutiques and second hand stores that made you wish you had an extra bag to fill up and send home. I fully design nerd-ed out on the insane pops of color, packaging and good design in this town.
Back to the Beach – The Pass
After our gastronomy tour we were back to our quest for surf. Our Aussie buddy we had met a couple weeks before up in Noosa came down for the weekend and guided us to a few of the best spots in town. First was The Pass. The infamous sandy bottom rolling wave of Byron Bay. Tucked in a cove off the main road to Cape Byron was this lovely little oasis behind the trees. We rented some last minute boards that looked like they had taken a beating over the years and headed out knowing we couldn’t possibly ding them up anymore than they already were and had laugh and a good time.
Just the next cove up was Wategos. This rocky reef was less crowded and a little harder to reach than The Pass, but hosted equally as fun, if not better waves. We caught it on a beautiful day. The sun was glistening off the water and there were dolphins jumping just on the outside of where we were sitting. It felt like a hidden gem tucked up in the little valley below the lighthouse. I don’t have any photos from that day but my memory of it is still so vivid to this day.