A vibe that is quintessentially, unmistakably Byron Bay

Byron Bay. Photo: Tourism Australia
Photographer: Andrew Smith

Byron Bay. Photo: Tourism Australia Photographer: Andrew Smith

Long thought of as the peace and love capital of Australia, Byron Bay has come a long way since its humble hippie beginnings.

These days, every street corner seems to feature a gorgeous new cafe or a shop selling high-end fashion and furnishings, and, as a local friend of mine says, “you can hardly swing a dreamcatcher without hitting someone famous”.

Yet, amid all of this, the place is still imbued with a vibe that is quintessentially, unmistakably Byron.

It strikes a great balance between cruisy beach town (think plenty of shoeless, sun-bleached types) and lively cultural hub (thanks to its myriad local festivals). The town centre is relatively small and surrounded by hinterland and rainforest.

Elements of Byron. Photo: Supplied

Elements of Byron. Photo: Supplied

One of the best things about Byron is its subtropical climate. It’s generally warm and rarely unbearably hot, and when it rains, it pours, which brings out the beauty of the lush greenery surrounding the place.

A weekend in Byron could look like this: an early morning walk up to the lighthouse, finishing with a swim in the gently rolling turquoise waves of Wategos beach; lunch at trendy back-street cafe The Top Shop, where you can sprawl out on the front lawn, or a picnic at Ewingsdale’s acclaimed Three Blue Ducks on the Farm; Saturday night cocktails and tapas at the recently-opened Mez Club; a trip to a local market on Sunday, followed by a yoga class at Creature Yoga or a surf lesson.

And don’t forget to pick up some glamorous boho pieces at Marr-Kett or Spell & The Gypsy Collective.

If you can, stay at least a week to properly melt into the Byron way of life. From the moment you’re greeted by the sign: “Welcome to Byron Bay. Cheer up. Slow down. Chill out”, you can’t help but do just that.

The writer was a guest of Cape House, Elements of Byron, Rae’s on Wategos and Crystal Castle



Crystal Castle

Crystal Castle. Photo: David Young.

Crystal Castle. Photo: David Young.

If you want a (raw, organic) slice of Byron (plus a stunning drive through lush hinterlands to get it), make a beeline for this Byron institution.

Crystal Castle is home to the largest crystals in the world (below) as well as the magical Shambhala Gardens (which include a rainforest walk, reflexology path and plenty more), while the cafe offers magnificent views over the Bali-esque landscape. Go the whole nine yards and sign up for an aura reading.


Elements of Byron

Osprey Spa at Elements of Byron. Photo: supplied/David Young

Osprey Spa at Elements of Byron. Photo: supplied/David Young

Forget the word “resort” – this place, which opened slightly more than a year ago, is more like a small town.

Located in the quiet Belongil Beach area, Elements is built on a 90-hectare beachfront property and has its own private beach access (complete with sun lounges), lagoon, rainforest, a large infinity pool, restaurant and day spa (I can recommend the divine Coastal Dunes Freedom ritual).

The rooms are beautifully appointed and designed to fit in with the natural landscape.

Cape Beach House

Cape House. Photo: supplied

Cape House. Photo: supplied

If you’re after boutique accommodation, book a room at this guest house opposite the Beach cafe (where you can take in glorious sea views while sipping your morning coffee).

The bed and breakfast is a hop, skip and a jump to the lovely Clarkes Beach and a 10-minute walk to the main drag. Other drawcards: free Wi-Fi, big, comfy beds and a sun deck with a pool.


Rae’s on Wategos

Rae's on Wategos. Photo: Supplied

Oysters – Rae’s on Wategos. Photo: Supplied

The gorgeous resort might look like it’s straight out of a Slim Aarons photo, but the place is gloriously unpretentious. The restaurant menu is thoughtfully designed and features loads of local produce and seafood (think tempura soft shell crab with chilli, lime and coconut), and the wait staff will suggest a cocktail while having a genuinely engaging conversation with you.

Located on the secluded Wategos beach, it’s the kind of place where you could just as easily propose to someone as you could get a relaxed post-swim dinner.

Disclaimer: Domain chief executive Antony Catalano is the owner of Rae’s on Wategos