Travel

10 Reasons to Drive to Byron Bay

From surf breaks to yoga retreats, Byron Bay is a coastal paradise with more to offer.

things to do byron bay
Photo: @celesteluzv

A mecca of sand, sun, and serenity, this NSW beach town is easygoing and known for its alternative culture. Spend your days surfing the breaks, walking the long stretches of sand, or venturing into the rainforest. If you’re looking to refind yourself, you can take the easygoing route, sinking into the tranquil yoga retreats, exploring the region’s hippie culture, and wellness culture.

Regardless of what you’re looking for, Byron Bay offers something for everyone. Here are 10 reasons to drive to the state’s most popular beach town.

things to do byron bay
Photo: @byronyogacentre

Reset with Byron Bay’s Wellness Culture

Byron is the New Age epicentre of Australia, attracting naturopaths, psychics, healers and massage therapists. As such, you’ll find tarot, palm and horoscope readings, as well as reflexology, iridology, kinesiology, and reiki therapies. The Byron Yoga Centre offers a range of yoga, health and wellness retreats, but if you’d prefer to simply take a class, there are options including prenatal yoga and yoga for new mums.

things to do byron bay
Photo: @steventures__

Walk the Cape Byron Track

The Cape Byron Track is on every Byron visitor’s list—it’s too beautiful to miss. Start with a good breakfast at the Beach Restaurant, overlooking Clarkes Beach, before taking a stroll to The Pass. From here take the track’s 3.7-kilometre (2.3-mile) loop, which winds through Bangalow palms, across kangaroo grasslands, along pretty Wategos and Little Wategos beaches and out to the tip of the Cape Byron Headland, which is the easternmost point of mainland Australia. The end is near, once you walk to the Byron Bay Lighthouse, a century-old whitewashed lighthouse, which you can climb for magnificent views south along Tallow Beach, east across the Pacific Ocean and west over a lime-green plain.

things to do byron bay

Chill out at Pighouse Flicks

Opened in 1995 in an old piggery, this venue is now an alternative cinema, screening art-house movies and international films. Enjoy a locally brewed beer from Byron Bay Brewery, and updated pub food, sourced from locally grown produce, then head next door to enjoy a movie. This venue still channels the eccentric spirit of Byron Bay and was the original locale of the Byron Bay Bluesfest. Should you want to stay longer, the excellent Arts Factory backpacker lodge is also located on-site

things to do byron bay
Photo: @raesonwategos

Indulge in luxury accommodation

From classic beach houses to designer chic resorts, Byron Bay is no stranger to the finer things in life. Some of its residents are A-listers, including the Hemsworth family, and soon to join, Zac Efron. There are plenty of mansions to gawk at, but you could also slip into your own slice of luxe accommodation at Elements of Bryon, which sits behind a beautiful white sand beach. Its 94 villas nestle among native bush around a lagoon and along a water lily covered creek on the outskirts of town. There’s a gorgeous resort pool and a swooping pavilion that offers contemporary alfresco dining with fresh, local fare.

Clarkes Beach Cottages sit front and centre on the beach. Originally sand miners’ shacks, they have been beautifully restored with modern conveniences and a few retro touches. If a rainforest experience is more your style, the Crystalbrook Byron is a luxurious all-suite resort tucked into 45 hectares of palm trees, paperbarks and cypress pines.

Raes on Wategos delivers a touch of exotic glamour behind one of Byron’s tucked-away surf beaches. Its curvy facade is whitewashed in a Greek villa-style with timber shutters. Its interiors are full of art and antiques and feature Italian marble floors, eclectic furniture and Moroccan archways.

things to do byron bay
Photo: @cat_food_taco

Surf the breaks

Surf culture in Byron Bay is unparalleled. Most gather at Lennox Head for its most famous break, Lennox point which is one of the country’s go-to places when a big swell hits the coast. Further south in Ballina, you can catch a wave off Shelly Beach. try your luck at The Pass, The Wreck, Belongil Beach or Wategos. Brunswick Heads and New Brighton also have a variety of breaks along their open beaches, while the river entrance to Brunswick Heads is every local legend’s most revered surfing spot. Whether you’re a beginner surfer looking for lessons, or an expert looking to ride your first barrel, you will find every surfing style here.

things to do byron bay
Photo: @serajwright

Swim at family-friendly beaches

While most beaches in Byron Bay aren’t patrolled, you will find a handful of family-friendly beaches, including Wategos and Clarkes Beach. Lennox Head also offers patrolled swimming beaches as well as the freshwater lagoon, Lake Ainsworth. There are calm water beaches to swim at near the mouth of the Brunswick River. Ballina also offers patrolled swimming at various beaches across town, including Lighthouse Beach and East Ballina’s Shelly Beach and Flat Rock. The best place to snorkel is at Julian Rocks, one of Australia’s best underwater sites, just off the coast of Cape Byron.

things to do byron bay
Photo: @loftbyronbay

Eat your way through the food scene

There’s more than one way to fill up your plate in town. From working farms to degustation menus and tapas restaurants, Byron Bay is more than a beach mecca. Intrepid diners can take the Byron Bay Solar Train to North Byron where chilled, poolside cocktails await at the luxurious Elements of Byron—or Argentinian influenced delights will tempt at Barrio restaurant. El Camino up the Palace Cinema end of Jonson Street puts a Byron Bay twist on authentic Mexico. for a creative cocktail and next-level grazing food head up to Loft Byron BayBelongil Beach Italian Food is a newly opened restaurant from Maurice Terzini. You can expect dishes highlighting local produce, with a large focus on fresh seafood and local tipples.

For a cruisy afternoon with a beer in hand, as you watch the Byron Bay sun melt into the horizon, the Beach Hotel will deliver the perfect combination of soulful tunes and easygoing vibes. A visit to the Bay wouldn’t be complete without a stop off at one of the world-class breweries and distilleries. Beer lovers should head to Stone & Wood and the Byron Bay Brewery for a tasting paddle and tour. Don’t forget to stop by Cape Byron Distillery and Husk Distillery.

things to do byron bay
Photo: @splendourinthegrass

Attend a festival

Byron Bay hosts several festivals a year, from large-scale music festivals to markets and community events. The Byron Bay Bluesfest is on around April and the ever-popular Splendour in the Grass takes place in July. You will also see a lineup of food festivals, writers festivals, film and surf festivals.

things to do byron bay
Photo: @islandluxeofficial

Shop till you drop at local boutiques

Add something quintessentially Byron to your wardrobe with the town’s best boutique shops, known for their high-end, handmade threads. You will also find a range of homewares, shoes, and jewellery. Spell and the Gypsie Collective is a modern bohemian label, while Auguste the Label, has its own classic look, that usually involves a flowing floral dress or two. Pop into Habitat Collective for visual splendour, or design shop, Pop and Scott. Island Luxe and Salt and Wood, also sell luxury bed linens and soft furnishings.

things to do byron bay
Photo: @venusgetaways

Discover hinterland gems

Only a short drive from Byron Bay, the hinterland is a playground of quirky towns, countryside living, regional restaurants, and dense rainforests. Venture into Arakwal National Park for the ultimate natural getaway that will satisfy even the most exhausted urban dwellers. Despite being just a stone’s throw from the township, the park provides secluded beaches and exquisite wildlife experiences including birdwatching and whale watching. 

A 20-minute drive from the township will take you to the stunning Broken Head Nature Reserve, where Aboriginal culture and untouched nature blend to create the ideal day trip. The expansive park encompasses sheer cliffs, lush rainforest and secluded beaches as well as boasting a unique subtropical rainforest known as the Littoral Rainforest. 

Tygarah Nature Reserve and Nightcap National Park also offer unique wetlands, waterfalls, including a multitude of walking tracks and hidden pockets waiting to be explored. You can go fishing, hiking, kayaking, surfing, and cycling in the hinterland.

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Travel

Airbnb’s New Tool Makes it Easy to Discover Homes You Didn’t Know Existed

And provides comprehensive protection in travel, included for free with every stay.

airbnb new features

We’re living in a new world of travel, which means we’re looking for new destinations and new ways to find places to stay. Airbnb is one of the most popular booking platforms for travellers, and for the first time in a decade, they’ve launched their biggest change yet.

The new tools help travellers find unique homes and provide more options for longer stays.

“The way people travel has changed forever. We’re introducing the biggest change to Airbnb in a decade,” said Brian Chesky, CEO and Co-Founder of Airbnb.

Airbnb Categories

Millions of people are now more flexible about where they live and work. But travel search has been the same for 25 years—you enter a location and dates into a search box. Most of us can only think of a few dozen cities to type into the search box, but there are Airbnbs in 100,000 towns and cities worldwide.

When you open Airbnb, you’re presented with 56 categories that organize homes based on their style, location, or proximity to a travel activity. When you search for a destination, your search results are also organized by categories relevant to that destination. As you view different categories, the map intelligently zooms to show you where the homes are located.

Airbnb Categories uses machine learning to analyze titles, written descriptions, photo captions, structured data from Hosts, and reviews from guests. Airbnb’s curation team members review listings and hand-pick featured photos—so if a listing is in the Amazing Pools Category, the first photo shows a pool. Then, each category goes through a final check to help ensure consistency and photo quality.

The 56 Airbnb Categories include more than 4 million unique homes that are made possible by Hosts all around the world. Airbnb Categories organize homes by what makes them unique, which helps people discover places they wouldn’t have otherwise found. This can help alleviate over-tourism by redistributing travel to new locations beyond the same popular destinations.

Split Stays

In the last three months, nearly half of the nights booked on Airbnb were for a week or more trips. Split Stays is an innovative new feature that splits your trip between two homes. With Split Stays, you will typically see around 40% more listings when searching for longer stays.

When searching a specific destination, Split Stays automatically appear in your search results. They also appear within 14 categories—including Camping, National Parks, Skiing, and Surfing—to inspire you to stay in two destinations as part of a longer trip. For example, when browsing the Skiing Category, Split Stays might suggest a pair of homes near Thredbo and Mt. Hotham.

When viewing Split Stays on a map, an animated line visually connects the two homes to show you the distance between them and the sequence of the stays. Once you select a Split Stay, you’re guided through an easy-to-use interface to book each stay, one home at a time.

MORE: These Are Australia’s 10 Most Wishlisted Airbnb Stays

Aircover for Guests

This northern and southern winter, millions of people will travel for the first time since the pandemic’s start. AirCover is the most comprehensive protection in travel. AirCover is always included and always free, and it represents the biggest upgrade to Airbnb customer service in a decade.

With AirCover, you’re covered by four protections every time you stay on Airbnb:

  • Booking Protection Guarantee – In the unlikely event a Host needs to cancel your booking within 30 days of check-in, Airbnb will find you a similar or better home or refund you.
  • Check-In Guarantee – If you can’t check into your home and the Host cannot resolve the issue, Airbnb will find you a similar or better home for the length of your original stay or get a refund.
  • Get-What-You-Booked Guarantee – If at any time during your stay you find your listing isn’t as advertised—for example, the refrigerator stops working and your Host can’t easily fix it, or there are fewer bedrooms than listed—you’ll have three days to report it and Airbnb will find you a similar or better home or refund you.
  • 24-hour Safety Line – If you ever feel unsafe, you’ll get priority access to specially-trained safety agents, day or night.

AirCover has been designed directly into the Airbnb app and website, making it easy for you to contact an agent and resolve issues quickly. There is a team of specially trained agents for last-minute rebooking assistance. Airbnb also has significantly expanded its 24-hour safety line to cover 16 languages.

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