It doesn’t matter if you’re a true-blue Aussie or if you’re a visitor to the Aussie shores chances are, the coastal town of Byron Bay has popped up on your radar. There’s a reason for that. Our Travel Expert Rose Jacobs takes you there to discover why.
The coastal town of Byron Bay on the north coast of New South Wales is often described as one of the best holiday destinations in Australia. So, what happens when you want a holiday with the best of the best? Well, you’re going to want my tips on Byron’s most desirable hot spots to stay, play, eat and unwind! Drop your shoulders, wriggle your toes, let’s go.
Did you know that Byron Bay is actually the proud home to one of the top 25 hotels in the world, as voted by Conde Naste Traveler Magazine?
RAE'S ON WATEGOE - It’s a unique boutique hotel, located on the sands of Wategoe’s Beach – at the base of the famous Byron Bay Lighthouse – and it won’t disappoint. Rae’s on Wategoe’s is the go to destination for the world’s most impressive celebrities. Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Helena Christensen, Owen Wilson, Ricky Martin and Pink are but some of the legends to have called this exclusive hideaway home for their holidays. Although, reportedly not all at the same time… because that would make for a wonderful scandal indeed!
In fact, with only seven rooms in total, the ambience is that of a secluded 1950’s Los Angeles mansion, with a touch of Spanish adobe thrown in! Dripping in bright bougainvillea, nestled amongst lush trees and a sprawling sunny lawn that rolls directly onto the sandy stretches of Byron’s best swimming beach, Rae’s will reset your clock and alter your vibrations.
THE BYRON - If you’re after the tree change over the sea change, then you can’t go past the luxury resort The Byron at Byron, just a ten minute drive (or bicycle ride) south of town and nestled unobtrusively within rainforest and canopy walkways as far as the eye can see. The impressive swimming pool relaxes you just to look at and you will find your serenity despite the growing popularity of the resort. The complimentary yoga classes at 8am each morning by the pool are a centering way to start your day.
YUMI'S COZY YURT - If you’re heading to Byron to immerse yourself in the laid-back culture that this region is known for then, you can’t go past Yumi's Cozy Yurt (authentic, octagonal cedar and pine hut) on Belongil Crescent. It’s about as “Byron” as you will ever find, fully self contained, on the most pristine stretch of beach in the area, five minutes (free) bike ride from town and with all the amenities a couple or small family would need to unwind. It’s easy to find through Airbnb. Oh, and it’s less than $100 per night. Now, that’s the best of Byron!
RAE'S ON WATEGOE - If you’re after a very special evening, being pampered with such attention to detail, with the sound of crashing waves over your shoulder then book a candlelit table at Rae’s. It is widely respected as the finest dining in town and yet you are made to feel like you’ve come home… or at the very least, you’ve arrived at your favourite place on earth.
TREEHOUSE CAFE AT BELONGIL - For those seeking a very casual “Byron style” meal, then you’ll need to find your way to the Treehouse Café at Belongil Beach, around five minutes west of town. It’s an unassuming little eccentric gathering of brightly coloured mismatched chairs and tables – and diners to match. The shared tapas style plates are amazing and the prices are fantastically affordable too. Embrace the Byron in yourself and order the Dandelion Soy Chai Latte… or any one of their recommended cocktails if you’re there for an evening of live music boasting some of the best up and coming voices and musicians from across the globe. (And if you’re staying at the Yurt, you can stroll home!)
HARVEST CAFE - The beauty of Byron however, is not just limited to the township of Byron itself. The minute you head inland into the hinterland, you’re blown away by the Tuscan style rolling mountains, littered with happy looking cows and sheep, separated occasionally by a crystal clear stream or a farm house that could have been the set of Babe. If you’re out for a drive, then you MUST visit Harvest café, about fifteen minutes out of Byron in the quaint little town of Newrybar. Just when you think you’ve disappeared from any civilization, you’re greeted at the door by the friendliest, most impossibly good looking and talented wait staff, so passionate about what they serve you, you’ll be tempted to invite them to join you. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and you wouldn’t be the first to spend the afternoon sipping champagne on the verandah, never wanting to leave.
So many different definitions of “play” but for me, it always includes shopping somewhere.
ISLAND LUXE - For the BEST – as I promised, go straight to Island Luxe in the heart of Byron Bay. Take your time, and dare I say it, take your wallet. With the yummiest interiors, men’s and women’s clothing range, accessories and even art, Island Luxe is so ‘distressed-cool’ it’ll makes you look at colours, fabrics and patterns in a whole new light. Their sister store in Bangalow is just as exciting and worth the drive, with an entirely different selection of goodies also. While you’re in Bangalow, check out the Persian Rug store and grab a coffee at the Town Café.
ST ELMO'S WINE BAR - Heading out for an evening drink with friends? Then start off at St Elmo’s wine bar in the heart of Byron. Plating up modern Spanish dishes and with an impressive global wine selection, this is a no brainer.
LIGHTHOUSE - Get your morning going with a heart-starting walk up the hill towards Byron’s lighthouse. If you get there early enough, you’ll be the first person in Australia to see the sun rise, as this is officially the country’s eastern most point.
KAYAKING - Head back down the hill for a kayak along Wategoe’s Beach. Kayaks are easily hired nearby the Byron Beach Café (Great coffee and an unbeatable ocean view for Brekkie).There’s a very good chance you will be sharing the waves with passing whales and dolphins.
PAMPER - While you’re over this way, do NOT miss out on a spa treatment facial or massage with Marionne De Candia from Rae’s. She is world renowned (she does Elle’s facials) and is so savvy with her trade she has even created her own ground breaking range of skincare products that are now backed by some of the world’s top plastic surgeons for post surgical skin recovery. In fact you will feel like she has massaged your soul by the end of the treatment, whether it’s her products or her angelic hands, it’s very rare you meet people like her indeed. But this is Byron…
Feeling better yet? Well, the best thing about Byron is that there is no schedule, there are no expectations or judgements. It remains one of those few places in the world where nature meets humanity and greatness happens. So, for the rest of your stay, don’t book anything or make any plans. Just focus on smiling at strangers you pass on the beach and enjoying the flavours of your food… because they really are the best in Byron.
Find out more about Byron Bay in our Destination Guide.
Do you have a question for Rose? Ask her here