Stylish Guide To Byron Bay

Erase from your mind all notions of hemp-wearing hippies, smelly backpackers and the try-hard boys from The Inbetweeners Movie because Byron Bay is a seriously stylish holiday destination and I’ve put together this trip report to prove it. Discover all the best places to brunch, shop, sip cocktails and sleep in this stylish guide to Byron Bay.

Moody clouds above Byron Bay Lighthouse

Moody clouds above Byron Bay Lighthouse

See/Do

Before we’d fully cruised into Byron we spotted its famous lighthouse and felt instantly drawn towards it. I highly recommend you start your Byron explorations here, at the most easterly point of Australia, as you’ll be faced with fantastic 360 views of the bay and perhaps like us will wind up spying the beaches you’d most like to spend more time on. If you’re dressed more appropriately than me you can take a short walk around the headlands and if you’re feeling really energetic there’s a walk you can do to/from Wategos Beach at the bottom of the cliffs. Or you can cheat like we did and drive straight up there and park for $8. (No judgement please.)

Best view in Byron Bay

Best view in Byron Bay

Our favourite activity in Byron was a snorkelling trip we booked with Byron Bay Dive Centre. It got cancelled a few times due to choppy waters but was luckily deemed safe enough to go ahead on our final day. Although you spend approx 1 hour in the water allow 2 to 3 hours to go through all the briefings and get kitted up. From the dive centre you’ll be transported to the beach and then it’s a short white knuckle speed boat ride to Julian Rocks Marine Reserve. Following the easy-on-the-eye expert guides who joined us in the water we spotted leopard sharks, giant bat fish and friendly sea turtles. On the boat ride back we also sailed past a big pod of female dolphins and their young (over 100 live in the waters around Byron) and it was the perfect way to end the trip.

You'll want to schedule a stop at Folk Byron Bay

You’ll want to schedule a stop at Folk Byron Bay

Our best experience was the beer sampling at local craft brewery Stone & Wood. The friendly staff explained the different ales in laymans terms and then we got to sample a whole paddle of them for just $10. If you book in advance you can also take a tour of the small brewery (included in the $10 tasting price) and learn more about the brewing process.

Beer tasting paddle just $10 at Stone & Wood.

Beer tasting paddle just $10 at Stone & Wood

My favourite beach in Byron was Tallows Beach, a long golden expanse of sand with hardly anyone on it. We visited on a Monday morning and it was pretty much just us, Elizabeth Gilbert (I’m reading Big Magic) and another pod of dolphins who frolicked just a few waves beyond us.

Playing spot the surfer at Tallows Beach

Playing spot the surfer at Tallows Beach

Other options I plan to check out on my next visit are:

Surf and Yoga Retreat by Surf Body Fit

Spa Day at The Byron at Byron

Shop

If you like your clothing and home to reference the seaside then Byron Bay is a brilliant place to shop. A number of independent fashion brands that started in Byron are now internationally known and sold (largely thanks to Instagram) but you can find their original stores still here in town. My absolute favourite store was Hope & May, which sells a gorgeous range of beach chic clothes and items for the home like cushions and throws. The shop even smelt of beach chic – think: notes of coconut and lime – and I couldn’t help but buy some candles and bars of soap in order to bring the scent home with me.

Wanting ALL the things at Hope & May

Wanting ALL the things at Hope & May

Other places we loved were: Spell Byron Bay, Mr Simple (one for the blokes), Mary Stevens Books (fantastic friendly staff who gave us lots of great restaurant recommendations), South Of The Border, Ahoy and Golden Breed.

Breakfast/Brunch

I’d eat brunch for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could and in Byron we almost did as there were so many fab places to check out. You might be visiting Byron on just a weekend break though so to narrow it down here’s my top 3:

For the decor: Folk

Folk was probably the most instagrammable spot we dined at in Byron. Situated on the edge of a caravan park this brunch spot is as folky as its name. I loved the rustic furniture, retro rug and perfectly positioned campervan. The organic menu features the likes of buckwheat hotcakes (my pick) and superfood granola. The coffee is also really good – we saw many locals parking up for a takeaway on their way into town.

Folk: the cutest brunch spot in Byron Bay

Folk: the cutest brunch spot in Byron Bay

Inside Folk

Inside Folk

Coffee's great too

Coffee’s great too

For the açaí bowls: The Top Shop

I didn’t even know how to say açaí before visiting Byron but one bowl from this place and I’m hooked. They also make top coffee, iced chai and giant berry muffins (because brunch should be balanced, right?).

Acai superbowl at The Top Shop

Acai superbowl at The Top Shop

For a really good feed: Bayleaf Cafe

Bayleaf was always bustling when we passed it so after our snorkelling on the last day we decided it was time we checked it out. Good decision. These guys serve serious-sized portions of bacon, eggs and avo on chunky slices of sourdough. Whilst I love a good granola bowl sometimes you just need a proper feed, in which case head to Bayleaf.

A bloomin good brunch at Bayleaf Cafe

A bloomin good brunch at Bayleaf Cafe

Cocktails

I’ve heard that no trip to Byron is complete without a pilgrimage to the Beach Hotel. Whilst this generous sized venue has a good buzz it doesn’t really have any style – lest you count the sea views. Nearby Balcony, however, has a great retro beachy vibe going on and an excellent cocktail list (although they were a little slow to serve us).

Good vibes at the Balcony

Good vibes at the Balcony

Just beyond the beach Miss Margarita has a popular happy hour and decent Mexican cuisine – my sizzling DIY fajita plate was cool. However, you will definitely need to queue here on a weekend and don’t believe their estimates – our predicted 15 min wait turned out to be 40 minutes.

Dinner

An awesome low-key spot that we didn’t have to queue at was the Treehouse on Belongil Beach. A little tucked away this live music venue and restaurant is worth the cab ride. The outdoor area is made up of a collection of old sofas and chairs that look like there were stolen from a school in the 80s. The staff are cheerful and chatty and the wood-fired pizza is really good – although I wasn’t expecting my pumpkin one to have such giant slices of the veg on it!

An awesome spot we had lunch at (but also does dinner) is Three Blue Ducks on The Farm. This award-winning eatery is found on a 86-acre working biological farm and the plates of food are just as pretty as the scenery. I ordered a haloumi and beetroot salad and it was the most tastiest way I’ve ever eaten those 2 fine ingredients before.

Pretty pink lunch at Three Blue Ducks at The Farm

Pretty pink lunch at Three Blue Ducks at The Farm

Other options: Two places that were recommended to us by both locals (the whole book shop gave us tips!) and blogs I read were Roadhouse and Harvest. Both are a little out-of-town so we didn’t have time for them on this trip. Next time..

Sweet Treats

I was trying to be healthy on this trip (Byron is the Australian spiritual home of açaí remember) but I did sniff out some sweet treats to share with you. One place that’s only a little bit naughty is YoFlo – a frozen yoghurt shop where your pot is sold on weight. The yoghurt is fat free but the brownie and white choc buttons I sneaked on top of mine definitely weren’t. (Whoops.)

Byron Bay Cookies are sold and loved all over Oz and at their shop in town you can buy every flavour imaginable. For chocolate lovers check out Love Byron Bay creperie and chocolate boutique – I really wanted some white choc dolphins but resisted. This time..

Sleep

We found some super cute accommodation on booking.com. Bayshore Bungalows are just a 5 mins walk from the beach and a 5 minute drive into town. (Note: we hired a car for the weekend and I recommend you do the same as some of the best eateries are a little too far to walk to.) Our bungalow had a modern kitchen, beach-chic bedroom on the mezzanine and super comfy living area. The resort also has a little pool and tennis court. It’s supposed to have wi-fi but we couldn’t get it working. (Maybe it was a sign to log off for a few days!)

Beachy Bayshore Bungalows

Beachy Bayshore Bungalows

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our home from home in Byron

Right next door to us was the brand new Elements Of Byron who were having their official opening this week. Intrigued I popped my head in for a sneak peak and was totally wowed by the everlasting pool, beachfront access and cantilevered day beds. We stopped for lunch at Graze – I had a very tasty Caesar salad – and were impressed with the friendly and knowledgeable staff. The 50 acre property features all private beach villas and a spa – I didn’t get to see inside these but I certainly plan to on my next visit to Byron Bay.

Brand new Elements Of Byron

Brand new Elements Of Byron

Elements Of Byron: I'd like to 'hang' here (sorry!)

Elements Of Byron: I’d like to ‘hang’ here (sorry!)

So are you tempted to plan a trip to Byron?

21 Comments

  1. Reply

    Leonie

    February 5, 2016

    One thing I did love about Byron Bay as the quirky little cafes they have to offer.
    Leonie ♥ Lo On The Go

  2. Reply

    The Guy Who Flies

    February 5, 2016

    One simple answer to your question, Yes! I’m very tempted by that to visit Byron Bay. Snorkelling/diving followed by beer tasting in such a fabulous location. It looks perfect and those food treats would be fabulous.

    Since you have such strong connections with London, did you make contact with Sam Starling? She is an English travel blogger who settled in Byron Bay over the last couple of years. She’d make a wonderful tour guide.

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      February 7, 2016

      Sadly I didn’t but thanks for the heads up as I’m sure we’ll be back another time.

  3. Reply

    Dominique

    February 5, 2016

    Looks like you had an amazing trip! My mouth is actually watering for a good Australian brunch from those photos!

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      February 8, 2016

      Byron has some excellent options for good Aussie brunches!

  4. Reply

    Catherine

    February 5, 2016

    Byron Bay looks gorgeous! I’ve never visited, but it’s on my list for next time I’m Sydney-side!

    C x | Lux Life

  5. Reply

    Janice Stringer

    February 5, 2016

    I am going to try the blooming good brunch. Maybe I can magically transport myself to Byron Bay. It is the only place in the world which has given me the feeling of Christmas – mid June and with brilliant sunshine!
    🙂

  6. Reply

    Audrey Corno

    February 6, 2016

    You have very nice photos in this post!

  7. Reply

    Christine

    February 6, 2016

    Gorgeous! I have a special place in my heart for Byron.

  8. Reply

    Melanie

    February 7, 2016

    Dear Jayne,

    Hello from the other side of the world: Vienna. My boyfriend is currently in Sydney and I am super jealous I cannot be there with him. So, to make myself feel like I was there just a bit, I started to research places for him to visit during his time there and take pictures for me to adore back home. This is how I discovered your travel blog. And, now 3 hours have passed and I am still on your webpage reading your articles, looking at your gorgeous photos, and dreaming of being in Australia. You seem like such a fun person to be around and I feel like we are kind of similar. I also have my own travel blog, which is definitely not nearly as amazing as yours, but I am working on it. I will look you up on the other social media channels too and I cannot wait to follow your journey around this beautiful planet. Keep up this inspiring blog. You rock! Best form cold Vienna, Austria

    Melanie (www.thevoyagette.com)

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      February 7, 2016

      Hi Melanie, Thank you for this beautiful note – it’s made my morning. I’m so pleased you found inspiration on these pages and look forward to checking out your blog and seeing where your adventures take you. Warm regards from Sydney, J x

  9. Reply

    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren

    February 7, 2016

    Oooo, great spots! I absolutely love this post, will definitely bookmark. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      February 7, 2016

      You’re welcome – hope you get to check them out 🙂

  10. Reply

    Julie Small

    February 8, 2016

    You make Byron look even more gorgeous than it is – and accessible. I get major FOMO whenever I go to places like this so great to have a comprehensive guide. And how good do they accomodation options look!!

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      February 8, 2016

      I’d done a lot of prior research so we hired a car and hunted down the best bits. I can’t wait to go back with a group of friends and show them what we found – I really loved it there!

  11. Reply

    Sally Scott - alluxia

    February 8, 2016

    No judgement here on driving to the lighthouse! Totally agree, Bayleaf is an institution and a must visit for brunch in Byron.

  12. Reply

    Amanda @ Adventures All Around

    February 16, 2016

    Reading this has me kicking myself that it’s been so long since I’ve been back to Byron. The last time I was there was over the madness of a New Year’s and I’d love to go back at a more chilled out time and just potter about, eating good food, feeling the good vibes. oh yeah…..

  13. Reply

    Warey

    February 21, 2016

    Stone & Wood beer tasting looks great although I didn’t see that when I was there, I just went for beer tasting the same one… several times.

    Absolutely agree with the focus on breky and brunch. It seemed to be all everyone was eating all day; light bite-y type grazing going on. Byron Bay was better than expected and I expected a lot!

  14. Reply

    Leslie Brlec

    March 25, 2016

    Awesome blog. I will live vicariously though you. Please continue with the great photos and witty commentary.

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      March 25, 2016

      Aw thanks Leslie 🙂

  15. Reply

    Taylor Joly

    September 13, 2016

    Elements Of Byron seems to be very fun! 🙂

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