Speed stay: how to spend 48 hours in Byron Bay
Byron may cop its fair share of clichés, but there's a reason this beautiful pocket of Northern NSW coastline attracts hordes of visitors year in and year out. Famed for its surfer-friendly beaches, hipster-meets-hippie vibe and rolling green hills, the area is home to a thriving food scene that is staunchly resistant to overdevelopment.
While a lengthy stay in Byron is always recommended, it's possible to spend a couple of days in the area and achieve a totally zen state of mind. Here, we share our favourite finds for a short trip away.
While not technically in Byron Bay (it's about a 40 minutes north by car), one look at boutique hotel Halcyon House (21 Cypress Crescent, Cabarita Beach, halcyonhouse.com.au) and you'll understand why it's well worth the drive. This artfully decorated residence isn't just great to look at - it faces an expansive and largely untouched beach and houses a top-notch restaurant, Paper Daisy. With each room decorated in its own unique way, there's a touch of the Mediterranean in the white walls and Insta-perfect beach décor. Your haven away from home.
Alternatively, The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa in Suffolk Park (77-97 Broken Head Rd, thebyronatbyron.com.au) is an equally luxe, but more local option.
When you've finished exploring the delicacies on the Paper Daisy menu, jump in the car and head south towards the town of Newrybar. Nestled in the lush green hills of the North Byron hinterland you'll find Harvest (18-22 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar Village, harvestnewrybar.com.au), an organic café, bakery and deli focused on utlising sustainable produce (that's also really delicious). Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, be sure to book to secure a table.
If you're looking for something more local, Treehouse on Belongil (25 Childe St, Belongil, beachtreehouseonbelongil.com) do great pizza and cocktails, Top Shop (facebook.com/TopShopByronBay) do a mean burger and The Italian (Bay St, Byron Bay, italianatthepacific.com.au) has the pick of both Main Beach views, a solid menu and pretty interiors. They also do a mean espresso martini.
If the miles of beaches aren't quite tickling your fancy, a walk up to the lighthouse at Byron Bay's stunning Wategos beach should do the trick. Think panoramic views of Byron's most easterly point - it's pretty sublime and you'll quickly understand why The Pass is Byron's most expensive real estate.
If you're after something even more quintessentially Byron (read: hippie), a visit to the Crystal Castle (crystalcastle.com.au) in the hinterland is not only beautiful, but shall we say enlightening. A garden dotted with crystals and sculptures dedicated to Indian gods like Ghanesh, even if precious stones aren't your bag, it's a fun way to spend a couple of hours. The space also boasts a café and an intriguing gift shop.
Byron's best beaches and beautiful hinterland aren't exactly within walking distance. While cruising the main town on bicycle is a choice option - especially in peak season periods like New Years and during Splendour and Bluesfest - to get the most of Byron you need a car. Holden's new Colorado proved a handy option for this writer on a recent trip (the tray is made for throwing surfboards and bikes in the back), but equally as smart was the seven seater four-wheel drive Trailblazer - which is spacious is made for comfortable road tripping with friends.
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