There's something magnetic about Byron Bay.
Part laid-back beach town, part bustling hippy/hipster enclave, part island of sophistication in a sea of diverse natural beauty... This summer I booked my mum and I into an old 1960s beach house and slowed down long enough to discover why so many of the most discerning people I know have fallen in love with Byron.
Air B&B did us right once again, landing us 50m from Wategos in a tree house/surf shack owned by the family of one of Australia's most talented (and well known) stylists.
(I'll refrain from name-dropping... not just because it's inelegant... but because this realisation was so much more delicious for having stumbled across it, and I'd like to help keep it that way.)
We did our share of exploring (read: eating our way) around Byron and it's hinterland and I've jotted down a list of favourite spots below. The best part, though, was the luxury of a real holiday pace. We got up early to walk on the beach. Swam before breakfast. Spent the hot hours inside with a stack of books or gazing out to sea from the crow's nest deck. We had late lunches and drove down country lanes looking for honesty boxes. At night we watched girly series on my laptop and slept with the sliding doors open, listening to the sound of rain and the ocean rolling into the shore.
Byron Bay Picks
The Lighthouse: It pulls you in, and for me, no visit to Byron is complete without spending at least some time walking the tracks down to Wategos Beach. I love to play 'spot the ray' from every lookout point along the coast.
Harvest: The famous eatery at Newrybar didn't disappoint. Fully marks for style, ambience, and super fresh food.
The Road House: This bar/eatery on the outskirts of town came highly recommended by locals in Byron and Bangalow. Local food, carefully prepared, and plenty of good-for-your-guts fermented sides to boot. Loved it.
Top Shop: They have nice looking salads, but we got the burgers and shakes. We weren't sorry.
Town: The lunch and dinner fare's a bit rich for us, but for breakfast or a sweet treat, it's still our favourite place to stop in Bangalow.
Hope and May: This Byron Bay shop really impressed me. The products and styling are so beautifully displayed and well edited. Full marks.
Ahoy Trader: A happy, bright shop full of interesting, cool things. I'm a big fan.
The Corner Store: Another shop I always admire for its product mix and styling. It's cool and quite neutral, perfect for accessories and gifts.
Polish: Incredibly beautiful, restored antiques in the old masonic hall in Bangalow. I'm now desperate for a standing desk with map drawers. Who knew?
Lake Ainsworth: Of the beachy towns we passed through in Byron's vicinity, Lennox was our favourite. We had a good pizza in Lennox. And a couple of really good swims in Lake Ainsworth. The water is clean, warm, and the colour of richly steeped tea, thanks to the tea trees that ring its shore. The lake is about a 90 second scamper from the main surf beach, so you can alternate plunging in salt and fresh water to your heart's delight.