Australia Highlight: Byron Bay

Byron Bay was surprisingly one of my favorite places in Australia. A hidden gem beach town that stays under the radar – it’s definitely worth a visit!

sara byron
This post was co-written with my travel buddy Sara, pictured/mentioned in many posts. We studied abroad & got the travel bug together.

On a Thursday night in April 2012, our group of 9 girls headed to Byron Bay. We took a Greyhound from Brisbane, where we lived at the time.

Accommodation

We stayed at Cape Byron Lodge hostel, which had its pros & cons:

  • Pros: The staff were super nice and helped us plan activities in Byron Bay (mentioned below). They were very accommodating to our large group and fit us all into one room.

better hostel

  • Free WiFi.
  • They provided shuttle service during the days & evenings.
  • Cons: If you’re interested in nightlife, this location isn’t ideal, since it’s about a 15-minute walk from town when the shuttles aren’t running. Also, the beds were very uncomfortable.

Surfing

On Friday morning, we had a surf lesson. We split into groups of ~5 with an instructor. I’d definitely recommend surfing in Byron Bay, even if you’re a beginner!

Photo cred: my friend Emily K
Photo cred: my friend Emily K

I wish we had time to go scuba diving here. We heard rave reviews of the large animals people saw while diving there, including whales, dolphins, and manta rays!

Day Trip

On Saturday, we took a day trip to Nimbin. Our hostel signed us up for a tour on the “Happy Coach”. This was a super-hippy van, painted with bright rainbow colors and had funny bumper stickers lining the inside ceiling.

girls bus

Our driver and guide, John, was really nice, laid-back and seemed to come straight out of the sixties. The drive to Nimbin was very scenic, including rolling green hills and many farms. We stopped at a waterfall and saw the largest gum tree in the world.

waterfall byron
You can almost see the waterfall…

girls tree

Next, the van took us to Nimbin, which was one of the strangest places we’ve ever been. Nimbin is a town that embraces the “alternative” lifestyle and is inhabited entirely by hippies. We’ll let you decide for yourself what you think of this town, but we’d skip this trip if we did it again.

nimbinLighthouse Hike

On our last day in Byron, we took the famous hike to the lighthouse. Our path curved around the beach, then went up into green cliffs surrounded by ocean. Every step of the walk brought new breathtaking views. One part of the path brought us to the most easterly point of the Australian mainland. In general, every part of Byron Bay is beautiful.

byron walk

byron bay

byron bay walking

On the way down, we hiked through a really pretty forest and saw people hang gliding.

parasail

parasailer

Market

We spent our final hours at a Byron flea market. There were dozens of tents selling unique, handmade goods.

Purchased these sweet headbands at the market
Purchased these sweet headbands at the market

Conclusion

Byron Bay is a laid-back, friendly beach town full of backpackers with hostels on every corner and people who don’t take life too seriously. It’s no surprise that this is my favorite place I’ve been to so far in Australia.

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