A lot has been written about Byron Bay and the beautiful hinterland that surrounds it. Australia’s most easterly town is home to creative minds, celebrity talent and a lot of other lucky people and its hard to beat in terms of location, weather and lifestyle. It’s also a great option for a long weekend from Brisbane or Sydney ( or beyond). Here are my tips on making the most of 3 days in Byron Bay.
Where to stay
There are so many great accommodation options now. Not that long ago you could only choose between hostels, expensive holiday homes and a few small apartment style resorts. These days there are a heap of great beach house conversions on Airbnb, glamping as well as camping, a plethora of motels and hotels and a couple of truly stunning resorts. There is literally something for every budget imaginable.
The most popular areas to stay are either in the city centre, Wategos Beach, Belongil Beach or down towards Lennox Head at Suffolk Park. Belongil is also the creative precinct of Byron with a number of factory outlets, artists studios, warehouses and the like, so although it may seem a little out-of-town there is quite a lot to do. There is also a decent supermarket, a new pub, service station and shops in Belongil now and it can be a great spot at peak periods when the traffic in Byron central can be at a standstill. Otherwise staying in town and walking or riding around also beats that problem.
One of the best things about Byron is actually the surrounding towns and villages, most of which are quite beautiful in their own right. Sometimes we prefer to stay in Bangalow or Brunswick Heads or Lennox and drive into Byron for day trips. Cheaper, easier and often just as delightful.
On our most recent visit we splurged at the incredible Elements of Byron resort. Read the full review HERE
What to do
There is some great shopping to be done ! All the big brands are available but Byron is also home to some fabulous home-grown labels. Spell and The Gypsy is worn and coveted by celebrities all over the world including Miley Cyrus, Nicole Madden and Pink. Mister Zimi is a label much-loved by visitors to Seminyak in Bali which is now only available in Byron. One of my favourite labels, Lazybones, has its home in the beautiful village of Brunswick Heads, about 20 minutes north of Byron and worth a stay all on its own.
There are many other great homewares, fashion and beauty companies making homegrown products for sale throughout the district – too many to mention.
Driftlab is a great boutique in Newrybar and there are a number of other boutiques in Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads. The main street of Bangalow has over a dozen !
If you are visiting on a Thursday the Byron Farmers Markets is a great showcase of all the fabulous produce in the area.
- The Farm
One of the best additions to the Byron scene in recent years is this wonderful venture taken on by a Sydney power couple ( his family founded Oroton) looking for a green change. It’s a huge success and well deserved with a Grow, Feed, Educate philosophy that includes a great restaurant, a cafe and techniques to produce food which is as clean and as nourishing as possible.
There are horse and buggy rides, an animal petting area, a great playground, florist and providore shops. The Farm also offers visitors an opportunity to meet their farmers and take an educational behind the scenes farm tour. Great for families but really everyone enjoys their visits to The Farm.
- The Lighthouse
Sitting on mainland Australia’s most easterly point, 118-metres above sea level is Cape Byron Lighthouse, which is as famous as Byron itself.
It also has a fascinating historical story. Charles Harding built the lighthouse in 1901 using prefabricated, white concrete blocks. The first-order optical lens, which weighs eight-tonnes, was made by French physicist and engineer Augustin-Jean Fresnel, who pioneered his famous lens design especially for lighthouses. In 1956, the light became Australia’s most powerful.
Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year – either on foot via the Cape Byron Walking Track, or by car – the lighthouse provides sweeping coastal and hinterland views, and a birds-eye view of the town. Most days you can see the resident pods of dolphins swimming in the Cape Byron Marine Park waters below and migrating whales between the months of June and October. There is also a cafe, the Lighthouse Café, open between 9am and 5pm.
- The Bluesfest
The Byron Bay Bluesfest now attracts over 100,000 visitors each year. If you are planning on going to Byron over Easter then don’t miss it !
Held on 120 hectares at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, about 15 minutes north of Byron the Bluesfest presents over 200 performances with up to 7 stages over 5 days as well as camping for up to 6,000 people, 5 licensed bars, over 100 food and market stalls, undercover food courts, beer gardens, and children’s entertainment.
Some of the incredible performers in the past have included Bob Dylan, Hozier, Paul Simon, Angus & Julia Stone, Robert Plant, John Mayer, James Brown, Zac Brown Band, John Legend & BB King. In 2017 we were lucky enough to see The Doobie Brothers, Pattie Smith and Santana as well as many others.
For a full review and tips on how to survive the BluesFest read more HERE
- The Beach
Byron Bay is known as having some of the best beaches in Australia, if not the world! The main beach and the one adjacent, Clarke’s, are quite lovely and being north facing it has a wonderful aspect and safe swimming conditions all year round. They are also patrolled by Surf Lifesavers – make sure you swim between the flags always!
Along the cove and also facing north is Wategos which has some excellent surf and swimming. Belongil, Suffolk, Tallows and Broken Head are all beautiful and can be good for fishing or watersports depending on the conditions. Make sure to check carefully before going in the water.
- Go to the Pub
Again the iconic Beach Hotel is almost as famous as the town itself. Built by famous Australian actor, producer and businessman John Cornell ( and Paul Hogan’s best mate) it sits proudly across from the main beach and has a great restaurant, a huge public bar and some great accommodation options.
- Celebrity spotting
Last time we visited we just missed local resident Chris Hemsworth at the Pub with his buddy MATT DAMON ! And the following day they had coffee at our resort ! Byron attracts a lot of celebrities both local and international and its not unusual to bump into the likes of actor Isabel Lucas, model Gemma Ward, Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus and Natalie Imbruglia who are all regulars. TV personality Shelly Craft now calls Byron home as does Real Housewife of NYC Alex McCord.
Just follow #byronbay or #byronvibes for a regular run down of celebrity movements
Where to eat
The Byron region is one of those regions of Australia bursting with fertility and a wealth of agricultural greatness. From the moment you cross the Tweed River heading south you start to pass thousands of hectares of farm land and rolling green hills growing corn, cane and other crops. The Cafe’s and Restaurants in the region can genuinely source fresh local produce at the top of its game and its one of the reasons the area is home to so many great dining choices.
Three Blue Ducks at The Farm (Ewingsdale at the Byron Bay turn off)
Operating on a “no frills, no tablecloths” policy chef and co-owner Darren Robertson and his business partner Mark LaBrooy call the food casual, nutritious, and tasty while the store offers takeaway meals, coffee and organic groceries. Menu items include leafy greens, pigs and beef from The Farm itself, chicken and locally sourced seafood.
Harvest ( Newrybar)
We’ve had a LOT of slow cooked lamb in our time ( in fact there’s one in the oven right now) but the shoulder we had at Harvest will go down as one of the best ever, anywhere. Served with perfect chat potatoes and delicious buttered beans we had one of those truly memorable long lazy weekend lunches that was complimented with great service from our lovely spanish waiter and, as a result some great wine as well. Make sure to book ahead!
Graze ( Belongil)
Opening out to the magnificent pool area Graze is the main restaurant at the stunning Elements of Byron resort. It has a simply gorgeous fit out (the recipient of several international awards) and some quite decent, and generous, food. Breakfast is particularly impressive!
Other great dining options I can recommend from numerous visits are :
- Byron Bay – St. Elmos, Il Buco, Beach, 100 Mile Table
- Brunswick Head – Fleet, Yami, Table View and the Bruns Hotel
- Mullumbimby – Milk and Honey and Scratch Pattiserie
- Bangalow – The Italian
Suggested itinerary for 3 days in Byron Bay ;
Pre Lunch : Arrive at your accommodation and spend the some time exploring the immediate environs so you can make the best use of your 3 days in Byron Bay
Lunch : Beach ( the restaurant)
Afternoon : Beach time – walk around the headland to Wategos and enjoy 3 beaches in one afternoon
Late afternoon : Sundowners at the Byron Beach Hotel
Dinner : St Elmos.
Post Dinner : dancing back at The Beach Hotel or cocktails at one of the funky bars like La La Land.
Day two :
Breakfast : Folk
Morning : If you didn’t go too hard on First Night Frenzy the night before you might be keen to walk up to the Lighthouse. If not, drive up and have a coffee at the cafe.
Lunch : Harvest at Newrybar ( if you cant get in try The Fig Tree which is also excellent)
Afternoon : poking around the shops, bars and cafes in Newyrbar and Bangalow
Dinner : Le Petite Snail
DAY tHREE :
Breakfast : Graze at Elements on Byron
Morning : depending on what day it is you can maybe catch a farmers market or do a tour of the Arts/Creative precinct
Lunch : Three Blue Ducks
Afternoon : poking around The Farm some more and then drive up to Brunswick Heads and Mullumbimby for yet more boutiques, cafes and possibly markets. Have coffee at Milk and Honey in Mullum.
Dinner : Fleet in Brunswick Heads
I’m really impressed with Byron these days. It wasn’t that long ago we used to return home swearing we’d had enough of rich hippies , crazy traffic and backpacker permeation. But I have to say all those years of relentless resistance to progress has paid off in many respects. Still no high rise yet new roads, eco resorts and some world class public facilities ( the new hospital is fabulous) they really do seem to have struck the perfect blend of conscious tourism vs local charm and innovation.
If 3 days in Byron is all you have then hopefully this has given you plenty of ideas for a great weekend in this truly incredible part of the world.But I guarantee you’ll be scheming your next visit before you’ve finished this one !