Byron Bay is kind of like the California of Australia, full of cool eateries, friendly (and quirky) people and surrounded by great beaches. Get acquainted
We’re all about the travel life! Whether we’re enjoying short trips from Hong Kong over long weekends or heading off on annual leave to exotic destinations like Dubai or the North of Mauritius, there’s nothing quite like setting foot somewhere new. And if you haven’t yet explored the vast expanse that is Australia yet, then we definitely suggest you do so, and not just because the founder of Honeycombers, Chris Edwards calls it home. She’s even put together a handy local’s guide to Byron Bay, so you can explore the best bits.
An essential guide to Byron Bay, Australia
After living in Singapore for 11 years we decided to move to the small coastal town of Byron Bay, Australia. Just south of the Gold Coast, Byron has an amazing combination of sheer natural beauty, incredible food, a wildly diverse creative community and so many undiscovered hidden gems (like it’s own brewery and gin distillery). Easy to access from Hong Kong, many people have asked me for a guide to this area well known for its barefoot luxury – so here it is, the local’s guide to Byron Bay.
The community vibe
Byron allures hippies, yuppies, country folk, celebrities (and Instagram celebrities), entrepreneurs and tree-changers. The love of anti-development and anti-establishment is strong, as is the love for creatives, crafts and music. There are some stand out events that happen in the local area where you can see this amazing community come alive – like the World Naked Byron Ride (yes you read that correctly!), Splendor in the Grass, Bluesfest, The Falls Festival, The Byron Writers Festival, and the Old & Gold Festival – just to name a few. If you can’t make one of these events make sure you visit a local farmers’ market – which happen every week – a great place to chat to the locals and see the kaleidoscope of the local community (my pick: Mullumbimby markets on a Friday morning).
Guide to Byron Bay: Natural beauty
The beaches & coastal walks
Cape Byron is Australia’s most easterly point, and with that it has a multitude of beaches facing north and east – a true surfers haven. My favourite beach is The Pass – which is the one with the most gentle waves (perfect for beginners learning to surf), it also has The Pass Cafe that serves a mean burger, and a stunning lookout where you can get a birds-eye view of the surfers below.
Wategos is another must-visit beach – just around the corner from The Pass. Take the nature path between the beaches and you’ll enjoy amazing views from the top of the cliff. Continue along Wategos beach and follow the track up to the Byron Bay lighthouse, an easy walk (my three-year-old can do it – just sayin’) where you can soak in the sea air and often spot a humpback whale in the cooler months (June-October).
Clarkes Beach is another great place to spend a day. Go sea kayaking where you will often see dolphins, turtles and the majestic humpback whales if the season is right. Finish up with lunch at Beach Byron Bay a casual restaurant right on the beach where you can enjoy the sea breeze and views out to Julian Rocks.
Bush hikes & swimming holes
Byron is surrounded by World Heritage rainforests, and a multitude of walking trails. Before you go, grab a copy of Byron Trails. We love visiting the amazing waterfalls and swimming holes in the area, like Killen Falls, Minyon Falls, Upper Wilsons Creek and Hells Hole – pack a picnic and get your nature fix.
Guide to Byron Bay: Great Eats
No guide to Byron Bay would be complete without an eats section. Byron is well known as a foodie haven – so this could take a while! Starting with my all star favourite cafes, this might be a long to-eat list…
An iconic cafe with great breakfast and lunch fare and excellent locally roasted coffee. In summer months, expect to wait for a table, but it’s well worth the wait.
Located in the ‘golden grid’, a few blocks back from Clarkes Beach, this laidback cafe is often so packed people sit on the nature strip to enjoy their standout burgers, sandwiches or salads.
Organic, locally sourced, homemade and healthy – you’ll spot Combi by the 1970s-style fringe umbrellas on the street. We can’t go past their juices, salads and healthy sweet treats that taste completely sinful.
Organic, ethical and plant-based is Folk’s catch cry. We not only love it for these reasons, but it’s vibe and slightly offbeat location also make it a must-eat, must-experience while you are in town.
Located at Habitat a retail and business precinct of Byron Bay (which is another great shopping excursion), Barrio is a neighbourhood restaurant with a modern industrial feel. We love their salads and their service.
Grow, feed, educate, give back is the catch cry of The Farm. This is a working farm where you can visit the pigs, cows, chickens, and bees – and afterwards enjoy a superb dining experience on site at The Three Blue Ducks restaurant.
Early dinners and late nights
This modern asian diner has a relaxed vibe and amazing food. Perfect for a party of four or more, the dishes are shared plates – expect an explosion in your mouth.
The Mez Club
Totally Instagrammable interiors meets middle eastern cuisine – the Mez Club is a great place to kick back and soak up the local street scene, while getting your gourmet tongue tickled with their Med cuisine.
Based in Suffolk Park, (a short bike ride away from the main town), Chupacabra is a Mexican taqueria serving rustic Mexican food that shines the light on local produce.
A new addition to the local scene, Bang Bang feels like you have stepped into Seminyak Bali. With it’s industrial not-quite finished interiors, Bang Bang serves south east asian food and creative cocktails with a high energy buzz.
Rae’s At Wategos
Another totally Instagrammable interior, this restaurant wins hands down for its location overlooking Wategos Beach. Serving contemporary Australian with a mediterranean influence, you do feel like you could be on the south coast of Italy at Rae’s.
Located in Newrybar, this is a bit of a day trip institution. Known for its locally sourced produce (much of it grown or baked on site) Harvest is situated in an airy weatherboard cottage – a beautiful spot for lunch or dinner. Book ahead for this one.
Guide to Byron Bay: Shop
Byron is home to some of Australia’s most loved brands – like Spell & the Gypsy Collective, One Teaspoon, Children of the Tribe, The Beach People, Rowe, Tigmi Trading and Zulu and Zelphyr. You can find most of the stores in Lawson, Fletcher and Jonson Street – but make sure you visit the arts and industrial area and Habitat. Newrybar Merchants is another must-shop location just 15 minutes drive in the hinterland (just opposite Harvest).
Day trips from Byron Bay
We know this is a guide to Byron Bay, but, for a scenic drive following a long lunch – you can take your pick of the range of small surrounding villages, including Bangalow, Mullumbimby, Federal and Brunswick Heads. Personally (and clearly I am biased…) you need to do them all.
Where to stay in Byron Bay
Our favourite places to stay are the small luxury guesthouses located in the main town namely The Bower Byron Bay, The Atlantic Byron Bay, and 28 Degrees. Rae’s on Wategos is a standout boutique hotel with suites and penthouses right on the beach.
If you are looking for a resort style accommodation (with onsite spa and restaurants) you can choose from Elements or The Byron at Byron. For those more budget conscious hit up AirBnb, there is a wide range from coastal cottages to hinterland farm houses on offer.
From Hong Kong, fly to Brisbane and then take a transfer or hire a car – it’s an easy two-hour drive south of the city. If you’re coming from Singapore, fly on scoot airlines to Gold Coast, which is only 40 minutes from Byron Bay, again transfer or hiring a car is the way to go.
When to go
Byron Bay is beautiful year round, but gets very crowded during Australian school holidays (December/January; Easter; September/October). If you want the warmer months, visit February-May or October-December. Byron Bay also enjoys a very mild winter (June-August) with warm sunny days and cooler nights. Humpback whale season is June-October.