Byron Bay has had my heart for a very long time. From coming here as a kid, to heaps of fun and crazy friend-filled trips in my 20s, to now, more recently, regular monthly visits since moving back from California. Its the energy. it hits you as soon as you touch down in Ballina and make the drive into town. Its the nature. The outrageous natural beauty of the bay. The beaches, the national park, the waterfalls, the hinterland with all its secret corners, and the ocean. I will never get sick of that walk up to the lighthouse, at sunrise or anytime of day,
up along the coast spotting whales and dolphins along the way, and then cutting back down through the bush. As Byron becomes increasingly-touristed and busy, we seem to be spending more and more time in its surrounding towns (Bangalow, Mullumbimby, Brunswick Heads, New Brighton, Federal etc) - more quiet and full of charm - but here are some of the things we are loving for time spent in the bay. Its very beautiful here.
Folk: what can i say, its my favourite (together with its sister cafe WOODS in Bangalow). So insanely adorable (a tiny little cottage tucked away next to a caravan park on the way out of town), good vibes, and healthy, inspiring, delicious organic food and drinks. Its very beautiful here. Eat and drink it all.
Three Blue Ducks at The Farm: we love coming here for breakfast. The brekkies are big and hearty and you cant beat the setting - surrounded by acres and acres of farmland and gorgeous farm animals. The staff are friendly. The coffee is good. And the bread is my favourite in Australia. Its delicious here.
Topshop: a Byron staple. High on the hill, up the road from Clarkes, grab a smoothie and a patch of grass. Known for their burgers, they bake their own bread and they do quick, easy eats to-go.
Roadhouse: its an old favourite. Super chilled, good tunes, and the food is so consistently good. Most things are made from scratch (including their almond milk). Breakfast here is wonderful. But we love it for dinner as well. We love their nourish bowl; we love everything they do. Their cocktails are next level, too. I can never go past the negroni. The only downside is that they don't have a bar license (only a restaurant license), so don't turn up expecting just to have a few afternoon drinks - you will always need to order some food as well (the popcorn does the trick though).
For pizza: you cant go past Il Buco. Its tiny - there’s not much room to sit down - but grab a pizza to-go instead. Its completely legit, and its amazing. We also like the Treehouse - where the pizza might not be quite as authentic, but the vibes are good and its a fun place for a drink as well.
Naked Treaties: for raw, vegan, organic, gluten/dairy/sugar-free goodness. They do great smoothies and sweet treats. Its like being back at Cafe Gratitude in LA - try their “My Heart is Open” smoothie.
The Source: where we stock up on snacks. Such an awesome selection of bits and bobs. We love their dark-chocolate covered everything (think bananas, goji berries, dried strawberries, almonds etc), and their raw cacao energy balls.
Bayleaf Cafe: their food is good. Its always insanely busy though. We like their greens bowl. And we love the take-away bircher from Leaf and Grain next door.
Bread from the Bread Social: Their Caraway and Rye is amazing, and their fruit bread is life-changing.
Combi: this pink and perfectly pretty Melbourne cafe opened their Byron outpost only a month or two ago. It will be your new go-to for all things healthy. You cant go wrong with any of the food here. The coffee is great as well. And the space is beautiful.
Heart and Halo: i love getting take-away from here. Hearty, healthy, indian-inspired vegetarian wholesomeness.
Italian at the Pacific: for a pasta and bottle of wine, plus a few coconut chilli martinis. Best cocktail ever. Be sure to swizzle the chilli around the glass a couple of times before taking your first sip. The perfect heat. Its the best.
St Elmo: for a pre-dinner cocktail at the bar before heading somewhere else, or to stay on for dinner. Tapas-style. The garlic-tomato bread to start is incredible.
Mongers: for a modern take on fish and chips. Casual and low-key. The calamari salad is great. We love their potato cakes as well.
Doma Café (Federal): for the cutest little Japanese café (in the tiny village of Federal about 25mins inland from Byron) offering insanely delicious brown rice sushi, healthy treats and good coffee. Run by a couple of delightful Japanese couples, their food is so unbelievably good and they can sometimes also be found at my favorite farmers market ever (the Friday morning Mullumbimby Farmers Market). The cafe in Federal closes early though, so make sure you check opening times before making the trek out there.
Sparrow: its just a tiny hole-in-the-wall, but its our pick for the best coffee in Byron. Hands down. We seriously dream about this stuff when we’re away. Creamy, and so perfectly delicious. You can also find a small selection of bread by The Bread Social (the best fruit and nut loaf you will ever experience in your life). And the baristas are so ridiculously friendly. We love it here.
Leaf and Grain: is Bayleaf Cafe’s take-out outpost located right next door, and they do good coffee brews as well.
Roadhouse: they do everything well here. Coffee is no exception.
The Farm: if you’ve got a car, the Farm does an awesome coffee and is definitely worth the drive (for not only the coffee, but the food, the bread, the deli goods, the flowers, the animals, and the farm itself. But more on that later).
Bun: it’s not necessarily aesthetically pleasing, but this tiny caffeine outpost in the industrial estate does great coffee. Its amazing. You can also find their coffee in a bunch of places across town, including the guest suites at 28 Degrees. Its delicious.
Walk to the lighthouse: take the coastal track up, and the bush track down. catch the sun rise over the most easterly point of australia. have a swim at little wategos on the way up. its so beautiful here.
Yoga at Ananta.
Whites Beach: my absolute favorite place. This secret little beach (well not so secret anymore) is hidden away deep in the Broken head nature reserve. There’s good surf and plenty of beautiful white sand and you may even be the only ones there. Pack a picnic and stay awhile (just check the tides first though, so you don't get caught out).
Sunrise on Tallows: 7km long/wide surf beach, with the most cosiest corner down the northern end.
Surf/hang/bbq at Wategos. This is our favourite beach of all the beaches in town.
Surf lessons with Rusty Miller: ex-USA 60s surf champ, Rusty offers private or group lessons and is passionate on all things ocean-related.
Byron Bay Farmers Market: 8am-11am Thursday, and 8am-11am Saturday in Bangalow.
Little Wategos Beach: this sheltered spot holds a special place in our heart, being the location of a good friend’s wedding. Located at the end of the Cape, its a beautiful little beach overlooked by the lighthouse and most easterly point.
Visit Bangalow: this is a must. The most charming of all the hinterland towns (only 15mins from Byron), it is one of our favorite places. Visit the stunning flagship store of Goddess of Babylon (featuring brands we love such as Noire intimates, and Yoli and Otis), Bisque Traders (for heavenly interiors), Woods (for the dreamiest little cafe), Island Luxe, Our Corner Store, the Saturday farmers market, the pharmacy (stocking brands like Aesop, Dr Hauschka, and chocolate by Melbourne’s Monsieur Truffle), and Graciosca for the most incredible hilltop hideaway ever.
Visit Mullumbimby: home to our favorite farmers market in Australia. Come here on a Friday morning (the market runs from 7am-11am) for some of the best and freshest produce, amazing food stalls, and brilliant buskers. We are obsessed with the omelettes by the Nomadic Kitchen, and the Doma sushi hand rolls (if the Doma stall is there). Head into town for great coffee at Punch and Daisy (and their cute sunny courtyard), and Milk and Honey (for their wood-fired pizza).
Visit Brunswick Heads: another one of our favorite little towns, its full of Aussie beach town charm. Situated between the river and the ocean, its a pretty little spot which is starting to burst with some amazing food spots and a creative energy. If you only do one thing, eat at Fleet (but book WAY in advance). This is the best dining experience in Australia. Hands down. Grab coffee, flowers and snacks from the gorgeous team at Jones and Co. Check out the Picture House. Eat middle eastern food at Yami. And sleep at the newly renovated Sails Motel.
Surf 'The Pass': one of Byron’s most iconic surf breaks – famed for its long, peeling right-handers. In bigger swells the Pass can be challenging, but in general it’s a great location for any surfing ability, especially loved by long boarders.
New Brighton Farmers Market: a smaller version of the Mullum Friday market, this Tuesday morning market is set under the trees and is equally as wonderful. Grab coffee and brekkie at the Yum Yum tree cafe after the market.
Protestors Falls: my happiest place. There are so many falls in the hinterland surrounding Byron, but Protestors is definitely my favorite of them all. It takes about an hour to drive there from Byron, but the drive itself is magical. Once you arrive in the Nightcap National Park, the falls themselves are just a short walk from the carpark. Its very beautiful here.
Visit crystal castle: up in the hills. As the name suggests, its home to plenty of crystals and spirituality, and its a peaceful getaway from town in amongst the rainforest.
Climb Mt Warning: about an hour’s drive from Byron Bay, the hike up to Mt Warning is about 8.8km return. If you can get up early enough, its an incredible spot from which to watch the sun come up. A stunning journey through lush rainforest.
Snorkeling or diving at Julian Rocks: located within the Cape Byron Marine Park. Home to hundreds of marine species including stingrays, turtles, fish and leopard sharks.
Cape Beach House
An old favourite, we have been coming to the Cape for over 10 years. Staying at the Cape is like coming home. A beautiful light and airy beach house, with wooden floorboards, and five bedrooms coming off an communal dining/living space. The location is hard to beat - directly opposite Clarkes Beach, and perfectly nestled in between Tallow and Wategos beach. its also an easy one hour return trip up to the lighthouse and back. More than anything though, its the Cape’s delightful owners - katie and marc - which make this place so special. So friendly and welcoming, Katie is the most divine host, and happily prepares a healthy breakfast spread each morning (including her own freshly baked granola and muffins). It is this that keeps us coming back for more.
This bright and breezy “barefoot luxury” guesthouse is the new kid on the luxury accommodation block in Byron. Instantly calming, this bright and breezy beach house offers three garden rooms (with private gardens and heated plunge pools), and (my favourite) the upstairs Lighthouse room with distant views of Byron Bay’s lighthouse. Each room has been thoughtfully fitted out with the most beautiful interiors; think king-sized beds, beautiful French linens by Cultiver House, dusty pink sofas by MCM House, mandala-looking wall hangings by the Dharma Door (amazing!), and the best bit, a claw-footed bathtub in the Lighthouse Room’s bathroom with bath products by MILK and the most-perfectly dim floor lighting. Another favourite, the well-curated and generous mini-bar which showcases locally sourced products. Delicious Byron Bay bun coffee (From the industry estate), teas by ‘Mayde’, granola by the Belle General (in Ballina), pete evans raw C coconut water, Stone and Wood beers and more. There is also a bose sound system, a well-considered collection of books, and a lovely woven beach bag in each room to use for your stay. Owners Deb and Lindon, who moved north from Sydney as part of a seachange four years ago, have done a wonderful job in creating an elegantly relaxed oasis in the centre of town.
Another old favourite. We love this beautiful boutique beachhouse in the center of town. Light, bright, beachy interiors amongst a quiet and tranquil oasis of palms. Come here for classic and stylish beach house accommodation, communal kitchens, bbqs and outdoor decking. A super cute store as well. Kimberly, Deb and the rest of the team are beyond wonderful. We love it here.
A private and hidden oasis in the heart of town, this beautiful property was once home to legendary Australian artist David Bromley. Surrounded by palm trees and artistic treasures, it is a perfectly private garden wonderland. There are three types of accommodation on offer. The artist studio (where Bromley once worked), which is a gorgeous self-contained cottage that sleeps two (with an awesome outdoor bath). The Boat Shed, a colourful space that also sleeps two. And the Artist House which has three bedrooms and Bromley art everywhere. The whole compound can sleep 10 and includes a vintage Airstream caravan, a Swedish hot tub, wood-fired pizza oven, and veggie garden. Its very beautiful here.