Oh Byron Bay! – Tips & Recommendations for my Favourite Place in Australia (?)

Byron is for sure a magical place. I can’t really tell if it’s my favourite as I also loved Bondi Beach in Sydney a lot and I had one of the best times in Melbourne with my first friends, as well as on my Surf Camp and the Sunshine Coast has a special place in my heart as well, but it’s on the top list for sure.

I want to tell you about the best places to go to, what to do, where to eat, to shop and to stay in Byron as well as do a little diary and story-telling from the three times and 10 days in total that I spend in Byron Bay.

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The first time I went there was with my cousin travelling from Sydney to Brisbane together when she visited me for three weeks. We spend three days there and that was the first time I fell in love for a bit.

When my parents visited me for three weeks over Christmas and New Year’s and we travelled down the East Coast from Cairns to Sydney we also stopped in Byron for one night and even though it was suuuper crowded (because it was holiday season), we fell in love all over.

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My third (and probably last time for now) was on my own. Perfect summer weather, great people in my dorm and I had 6 super fun days. I didn’t spend one day alone and it was nice to hang out with others 24/7 after lots of me-time in Sydney and Newcastle.

I could not have been luckier with my 10-bed-dorm as I had 5 people in there, that I can call my friends now. A German and a Spanish girl and three boys from Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands. We had lots of fun times at the beach, walking to the lighthouse for sunrise or sunset, surfing and playing in the waves, playing cards and drinking games at the beach, picnicking with the best view over the beach and the lighthouse and getting some amazing food from the awesome food places Byron has to offer, watching movies at the hostel, partying and having midnight pizza and crêpes – it was a wonderful time that I’ll keep in my memories forever.

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Where to Stay

Hostel I stayed at the Nomads Hostel for 6 nights because it is pretty cheap and super well located. Right in the centre, 3 minutes to the beach, one to Aldi, 4 minutes to Woolworths, it’s not the cleanest but still fine, the rooms and common areas are big and nice and they offer a lot of free activities, food etc. Also, the breakfast is great (toast, sweet spreads, cornflakes and fruit! Which is not common).

AirBnB With my cousin I stayed in a really nice Airbnb that is around 8 minutes by bus or 12 minutes by Bike from the city centre. It’s not that much more expensive than a hostel and it was really nice. I am sure there are a ton of cute Airbnb’s around Byron but you need to book early, especially in the season because Byron is a popular town.

Campground When I was travelling with my family, we stayed at the campground in Byron (20 minutes by foot to the centre), Belongil Fields Caravan Park, which I cannot recommend at all. It was the most expensive one we stayed at and the worst of all. No warm water to shower, super small spaces and just not worth the money at all. They know that people will book it because it is one of two near Byron and Tourists need to stay somewhere, but it’s sad that they don’t make an effort at all. Especially for the money they take.

Where to Shop

Cowper St is the main street in Byron and there are lots of restaurants, bars, cafés and of course shops, as well as in the streets branching off from it. You can find the main brands and surf/bikini stores there, but also some beautiful small and unique boutiques that sell wonderful, boho clothes, furniture, accessories and more. I fell in love with so many pieces, but it can get pretty expensive in these small stores.

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Where to Eat

I luckily got to try a few nice restaurants, cafés and bistros in Byron and everything I had was just amazing. Byron really has a lot of great places that are unique and have a lot of charm.

No Bones is a completely vegan gourmet restaurant and cocktail bar where I probably had the best vegan burger in my life as well as an amazing peach parfait and blueberry cheesecake for dessert. Their local Kambucha was really yummy as well and the waitresses were very friendly. Overall the restaurant just had an amazing alternative but still elevated vibe and I can only recommend going there. My brother really liked the burger as well and my dad was in love with the vegan pawns he had. This place is really amazing to show non-vegan/veggie people how good kind food can be.

Combi Café is one of these beautiful, hip and boho cafés where you can get Acai Bowls, Avo toast, Smoothies and all that good stuff. The interior is a dream and my breakfast was as well. I had a vegan toasty with avo, vegan cheese, spinach, pumpkin and olive oil between sourdough that was amazing and the best vegan muffin I ever had with pear, lots of cinnamon, chia seeds, dried figs and nuts.

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Orgasmic Falafel When you are lucky, this place is giving out sample falafels on the main street to taste and we went there one night to get takeaway vegan pita’s with hummus, falafel, some veggies and a nice sauce to bring to the beach. The falafels are so crispy and probably the best ones I ever ate and the boys I was with also loved the vegan pitas.

Miss Margarita is a Mexican restaurant on the main street close to the beach and I was told it is the highest ranked restaurant on TripAdvisor. It took pretty long to get a table so I would recommend reserving before, but it was so worth it. The place is not just super unique and has a great Mexican vintage vibe, the food was really amazing too. I had a zucchini and mushroom Burrito and it was definitely the best one I ever had. Such a great flavour and the combo of roasted zucchini and mushrooms was amazing.

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Crêpes There is a very popular crêpe place at Spar in Byron and you literally see hundreds of people eating them every day on the streets. So we obviously needed to try them and we didn’t get disappointed. Crêpes are pretty expensive in Australia compared to Europe but we got a strawberry one with dark chocolate and it was so good. Super creamy, still cross and the combo of warm melted chocolate and fresh strawberries is just a dream.

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Acai Obviously I needed to have Acai before/in between a hot beach day and literally every café/shop sells them. They cost around 13-16$ but there was one place that had them for 10$. It wasn’t the best one I had, but still good and because they used lots of muesli to fill up the bowl, it made you full for longer.

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Fresh Coconuts Many places also sell fresh coconuts, but there is a guy at the main beach that sells really amazing fresh cocos. He freshly cuts them open for you, has paper straws and when you finished the water he cuts them completely open and cuts the coconut meat out so that you can eat it as well. It was the first time for me trying a fresh coconut and I already love the store bought coconut water, but this one was a dream!

Other great places that I want to go to next time are Folk and Byron Bay General Store.

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What to do

There a plenty of things to do in and around Byron Bay. The most popular ones are day trips to Nimbin (the weed Mecca in Australia), diving and snorkelling, kayaking with dolphins, hiring surfboards, stand up paddle boards or kayaks and walking to the lighthouse.

The lighthouse walk should be a must for everyone visiting Byron Bay as it is super famous and beautiful. Not just at the destination, but also the way up and down. Especially when you take the walk at the coast/beach and not through the rainforest or at the street (even though they are shorter). First, you walk along the main beach, then up some small hills to get to Wategos beach, which is a dream for surfers in the morning and then some more hills until you arrive at the most easterly point of the Australian mainland and head to the lighthouse. If you are lucky you can spot turtles, dolphins or whales in the ocean and especially around sunrise and sunset the light is beautiful. I did the hike twice at daytime, once for sunset and once for sunrise and it was always a great experience. Especially when you can jump in the refreshing water afterwards to cool down again.

The beaches in/around Byron are super beautiful and as they are pretty big/long you can always find a nice calm spot to relax. The water has an amazing temperature, just right to stay in for long but still cold enough to cool you down and the waves are great to play and jump in. If you go at the right time and to the right spots surfing is great as well, I just wasn’t lucky to experience that…If you walk down the main road until the end you find the main beach to your right side and the dog beach to your left (both beautiful), a bit further along the coast in the direction of the lighthouse is Wategos Beach and Tallow Beach on the other side of the cap is wonderful as well and super empty.

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It was always my dream to ride a horse at the beach and not far from Byron Bay, at Seven Mile beach it is possible. I booked a two-hour beach ride with Sea Horses Byron Bay and I can highly recommend them. I got the chance to help the owner making the horses ready and driving them to the beach as well as helping with the “after-riding-work” bringing them home, showering and feeding them. Most horses are rescued from the meat industry and live a wonderful life in a big open forest space now. You can tell that the owner really loves them by how she cares for them. They look super healthy, have a wonderful, spacious and natural home, get great food and get pauses from riding regularly. I spend almost the whole day on the ranch and riding and had an awesome and fun experience. It costs 140$ which is a lot, but after seeing how well the horses get looked after, I can say that it was totally worth it.

They say that surfing is awesome in Byron Bay. Especially when you go in the morning and know some nice spots with great waves, but I sadly didn’t get the chance. The Nomads hostel rents surfboards as well as many shops in the city and near the beach.

Nightlife is great in Byron, but a little different than in other backpacker hotspots. There are two clubs (Woodie’s and Cheeky Monkeys) where you can party every night and a lot of cool bars with live music, but Byron Bay is more about the street artists that are playing everywhere on the streets and especially at the park at the main beach. You get an amazing view over the beach, sea and lighthouse and can listen to some wonderful musicians while picnicking, drinking or playing card games with friends. There is also a van that does a silent disco at the beach with headphones which is super fun.

Near the Arts Centre in the western part if Byron there is a Yoga Retreat place that does daily yoga lessons taught by future yoga teachers that are practising teaching for only 5$ for 90 minutes, which is super cheap.

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Breakfast at the beach with my family

I’ve been three times and I still want to go back because there is still cafés I haven’t tried, waves I haven’t caught and beach days to enjoy… Byron is a dream and I can only recommend to go there if you love this beautiful alternative hippie vibe!

 

 

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Up North We Go! – Travelling the East Coast | Diary 009

After my cousin and I spend a wonderful week in the big city Sydney, it was time for us to drive through the countryside and explore some cute towns and cities up the east coast as we headed to Brisbane.

Unfortunately, we only had a week time to travel up north to Brisbane because my cousin only had three weeks of vacation in total, so we could only stay for one or two days at each place and had to minimise the stops.

That’s why I will probably travel this part of the East Coast once again myself and go to the places that we didn’t make it to this time.

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Sunday 4/11

Our one and only day in Port Macquarie started with pancakes for breakfast at Port Macquarie Backpackers. The hostel is super cute, very small and I really liked the relaxed and familiar atmosphere there.

We walked to the city centre, strolled through the streets and later on to the koala hospital. This is the highlight of Port Macquarie for sure and it is definitely worth to stop by.

At 3pm they do a free tour of the hospital where one of the volunteers tells a lot about the history of the hospital and its patients, how the koalas get treated, as well as some stories of already released patients.

It was super interesting and so nice to see koalas awake (they sleep about 20 hours per day, but at 3pm it is their meal time so they wake up) and very close, but without them being used as a show animal and to amuse tourists.

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Afterwards, we walked to the beach with the famous coloured stones and back to the hostel to eat and go to sleep early as we had to wake up in the middle of the night to catch our bus to go to Byron Bay.

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Monday 5/11

After trying to sleep half of the night in the bus we arrived in Byron Bay, had some struggles finding a place to store our bags for the day (because we couldn’t check in that early) and strolled through the city centre.

I really like Byron and its chilled, relaxed surfer vibes with cute little cafés, surf and bikini shops and stores with the cutes hippie chic fashion – I love it!

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In the afternoon we decided to do the lighthouse walk and started along the main beach, barefoot in the sand. Later, it got a bit steeper and it was super hot but we made it to the top and had an amazing view. I really want to do that walk once again for sunset as it must be magical lightning at that time!

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On that hike you also pass the most eastern point of the Australian main country and get to the famous lighthouse.

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On the way back you walk through a beautiful forest and see so many birds and plants.

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After the hike, we treated ourselves with some cake. I got a vegan chocolate berry cake and Lisa went for a berry cheesecake.

We checked into the best Airbnb we had on our whole trip. Super big, clean and calm.

 

 

I cooked some yummy cheesy vegan pasta. It only took me about 12 minutes and it’s healthy and delicious –  you can find the recipe and many more in my blog post on Quick, Cheap, Healthy & Vegan Dinner Recipes!

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From that day I got my first little sunburn ever :D I usually never get sunburned, but I probably didn’t apply sunscreen carefully enough. Luckily it didn’t hurt and was already gone after two days.

Tuesday 6/11

In the morning Lisa and I worked out in the Airbnb together and had breakfast afterwards.

We went to Tallow beach that was just two streets away from our home and we were almost completely alone at that beach. It is not the main beach in Byron Bay and very long so it felt almost like we had the whole beach to ourselves. But it was also pretty windy which means it was sandy and after that beach day, we had sand EVERYWHERE.

 

In the late afternoon, we walked to the city and I met Steph again who I met on the Outback tour and I was so so happy to catch up with her and see her before she left to go home to Guatemala a few days later.

 

Wednesday 7/11

The next morning we had a few hours left in the city before we drove further north to Surfers Paradise.

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Surfers Paradise is part of the Gold Coast. A part of the east coast south of Brisbane that is very long and includes many cities without endings and beginnings of new cities – they all flow into each other.

 

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At least the view from our Airbnb was nice :D

We walked through the centre of Surfers Paradise, sat at the beach and later drove to our Airbnb by Uber. That Airbnb was the least nicest and I wouldn’t recommend it, but it was cheap so we survived the two nights there :D

We went grocery shopping at Coles, cooked dinner and enjoyed the wi-fi (a big advantage for Airbnbs! Their internet is always so much better than in the hostels).

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Thursday 8/11

We worked out again that morning and had a wonderful view for our daily breakfast: porridge, cooked with oats, cinnamon and water, with fruit and some nuts on top.

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Then we walked to the city which was another good workout (1h 15 min) and talked a lot which made it way shorter and more enjoyable. Because the weather wasn’t that great, we sadly couldn’t make a beach day on the Gold Coast…

For lunch we decided to eat very unhealthy that day because we wanted to (and we deserved it :D ) and we had Domino’s pizza. They have a 5$ deal here in Australia with a few of their pizzas and I tried their pizza and their vegan cheese for the first time – and it was great! If I ever crave pizza again, I’ll eat that one again.

And as a dessert we got the Churros from Dominos that were pretty good as well, but not as good as the ones from the Churro shops here.

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Even though that day wasn’t that exciting, we were super tired and exhausted from all the walking (and eating :D ).

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Next day we went to Brisbane and I’ll tell you all about our days in Brisbane in the next post!