From all over the world, people come to Byron Bay for the beaches. They stay for the lifestyle. This is an insider’s guide to both, a perfect day in Byron for those who love to fall off the grid.
We’ll trace the Byron landscape; highlighting the best surf spots, adventures and eats. But perhaps more importantly, we’ll sketch the Byron dreamscape; sharing the footsteps of local movers and shakers to discover how they re-imagined their idea of success to chase down dreams to The Bay.
Byron Bay is a place that blurs the line between dreaming and doing, between work and life. Locals work to live rather than live to work - a distinction that gives this town its energy. This is one day in the life of a Byron Bay local. But one day might be all you need to convince you to stay.
6am: Sunrise Surf
For a small coastal town, Byron Bay is far from sleepy. Here, the early bird catches waves instead of worms. Byron Bay sits at the tip of Australia's most easterly point. From your board you can be the first person in Australia onto whom the sun breaks. Immersed in the natural environment, it is easy to understand why hippies chose to settle here in the sixties. Byron Bay remains closer to paradise than a parking lot.
7am: Breakfast at the Top Shop
A respect for natural wellness has taken root in this nature-loving town. Byron abounds in nourishing whole foods. Get your morning superfood fix at a local favorite, The Topshop. Do as the Aussies do and take the time to truly savor your coffee and the morning sunshine.
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
8am: The Lighthouse Walk
All together now. The lighthouse walk is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. It is famed for a reason. Wherever you stop to catch your breath you will be met with breathtaking views. Sun-dappled rainforest gives way to ocean clifftop. Remember to keep watch for dolphins and whales.
10am: The Beach
Your morning walk will take you past beach after beautiful beach. As a general rule, the further you wander from town, the less crowded the sands. The Pass is a beach where the rainforest meets the sea and remains a local favorite for this reason. Wategos is the best beach for a picnic, with spots of shade and public barbeques. Take your pick and spend awhile.
Whilst a morning at the beach may not be part of every local’s workday, it is true that the local community here has a different approach to work and success. Local Photographer Gabi Mulder explains ‘It’s not ‘“success” in the typical sense. It’s about being successful in making life as full and as emotional and as connected as it can be.’
12pm: The Farm
The story behind this restaurant mirrors the story of so many people who move to Byron Bay. Three Blue Ducks is a super successful Sydney-based establishment that recently opened a new restaurant in Byron. The Farm has fast become a favorite and is far removed from its inner-city origins. All produce served at The Farm is fresh and local, much of it is actually grown on site. As the name suggests, the restaurant is situated on a working farm. Expect scenic views and sunflower fields as far as the eye can see.
The restaurant has a more relaxed vibe than most fine dining establishments. This is typical of Byron Bay and its unique take on bohemian luxury. Take the time to chat with your waiters and you will hear a similar story. Many have made the move from the city to live a distinctly Byron life.
2pm: Treasure Hunting
Shopping in Byron Bay is far from your usual stress-laden consumerist affair. Most of the boutiques are independent and local enterprises. Although the businesses are hyper local, they have achieved international success. Spell and The Gypsy Collective are the forerunners of this movement. The brand is owned and run by two sisters who moved to Byron from Melbourne to do what they love. Through their success, they have come to represent an authentic approach to creativity and commerce that is the model for many Byron businesses. Wander the streets around the centre of town to find one-off gems and buried treasures.
3pm: Julian Rocks
Julian rocks is a small nature reserve just off the Byron coastline. It is famous for its stunning snorkeling and coral reef. You can experience the rocks in all their glory both over and under the water. You could organize a guided Kayaking tour there, with opportunities to get close to whales and dolphins along the way. Alternatively, if you are a scuba diver, you can easily arrange to dive at the rocks.
This stunning natural environment inspires a whole community of artists. In fact, Byron Bay has the highest rate of people working in the creative industries outside of major cities in Australia. Kennedy Ross, a local web designer, moved to Byron Bay from Sweden for the creative community. He explains that “Lives here follow natural time and changes, tides and seasons, more than the 9-to-5. Yet still Byron competes with the big cities for the most amazing creations and connections.”
7 pm: Sundowners
The Byron Bay Beach Hotel is iconic. For this reason, it is usually packed full. Don’t let that put you off though - when all the seats are taken the locals stretch out on a grassy knoll. The crowds are part of the enduring appeal of the place. You could not imagine a more perfect place for people watching. As the sun dips below the horizon, you can soak up the atmosphere and the live music. The Beach Hotel regularly features excellent local and international bands.
Live music is an essential part of the Byron lifestyle. Byron is home to some of Australia’s biggest music festivals, but it is at smaller venues like this that the local talent really shines.
By the end of the day, you will be ready to throw caution to the wind and your schedule with it. Byron is the kind of place where time takes on a different feel. This is a guide to a perfect day in Byron Bay, but to truly experience local life you must pair it with a commitment to authentic living and pursuing what you love.