Culture Trip's Guide to Byron Bay, Australia

Byron Bay is a laid-back beachside town full of great hotels, eateries and activities
Byron Bay is a laid-back beachside town full of great hotels, eateries and activities | © Nate / Alamy Stock Photo
Molly Codyre

A ready collection of bookable travel ideas inspired by what you love. Discover things to do, where to stay, and the best spots to eat and drink in the Culture Trip Guide to Byron Bay.

Not just a hippy haven – although there’s definitely a big slice of the bohemian going on here – Byron Bay is a bucolic beachside town that happens to be full of great hotels, eateries and shops. Here, we round up our guide to the best places to eat, stay and play in the bay.

Where to stay

1. Elements Of Byron Resort and Spa, Byron Bay

Boutique Hotel, Resort, Spa Hotel

Wide-angle birds-eye view of Elements Of Byron Resort and Spa
Courtesy of Elements of Byron / Expedia

Sandwiched between 50 acres of native bushland and Belongil Beach, Elements of Byron allows you to connect with nature – albeit in total luxury. This hotel, which is part of the renowned Sofitel group, is award-winning for its state-of-the-art villas, Osprey spa, and pool complete with a swim-up tequila bar. Choose from eight freestanding villas to suit you and your entourage, and expect generous-sized rooms, roll-top baths and privacy.

2. 28 Degrees Byron Bay

Independent Hotel, Luxury

A bedroom at with a white sofa at 28 Degrees Byron Bay
Courtesy of 28 Degrees Byron Bay / Expedia

Exclusively for adults over the age of 21, 28 Degrees Byron Bay is a quiet hotel designed with couples in mind. Guests can add on honey- or babymoon packages, featuring couple massages and champagne, to stays in suites like the ‘plunge pool’ room fit with outdoor showers and a private garden, or the ‘luxury master’ with lighthouse views and a private deck. And as for its location, you’ll be just a stone’s throw from Byron Bay’s town centre and five minutes from the beachfront.

What to do

3. Kayaking with dolphins in Byron Bay

Activities, Tours

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Courtesy of Guided Kayaking Trip with Dolphin and Whale Spotting / Expedia

Taking you through the protected waters of Cape Byron Marine Park, this kayak tour will give you the chance to paddle next to pods of dolphins, while learning about the protected aquatic area. You’ll also paddle below Cape Byron lighthouse and soak up the surrounding views. And if you don’t see any dolphins, you’ll be offered a return tour for free. If you’re really lucky, you may also encounter migrating whales and sea turtles, so be sure to keep one eye peeled on the sparkling water beneath you.

4. Byron Stand-Up Paddle Nature Tour

Activities, Tours

See the other side of Byron’s waterways with a stand-up paddleboard tour of the Brunswick River. Only eight people are permitted on this tour, guaranteeing you a relaxed and peaceful experience. After a short SUP introduction, you’ll head out onto the river with your guides, with nothing but the quiet splashing of the paddles and the distant noise of local wildlife in your ears. Your eagle-eyed guides will be on the lookout for dolphins, rare fish, seabirds and sea turtles – all common to see in these crystalline waters.

5. Experience the Thrill, Half-Day Surf School in Byron Bay

Activities, Class

People surfing walking and relaxing on Wategos Beach Byron Bay
© Dave Donaldson / Alamy Stock Photo
Surfing is as integral to Bryon Bay’s culture as the Opera House is to Sydney, so even if you’re a first timer it’s a must-do activity. Luckily, this half-day surf school will run you through the basics and help you get out on the waves in no time. With all gear included in the price, all you need to focus on is perfecting your technique and having a great time. There’s one instructor for groups of up to seven people, which should give every beginner sufficient one-on-one time. In fact, your teachers are so confident you’ll be able to stand up by the end of the session that they’ll offer you another class for free if you don’t.

Where to eat

6. Top Shop

Cafe, Australian

No, not the world-famous clothing store, but a sweet and much-loved breakfast spot up the hill from Clarkes Beach. Dishes range from Byron classics like açaí bowls covered in crunchy granola and sliced banana, to bacon, egg and hash brown-stacked burgers that would refuel even the most dedicated of morning surfers. It’s not just breakfast either – go later in the day to enjoy delicious sandwiches, burgers and salads packed full of fresh ingredients, and wash it down with a glass of freshly squeezed OJ.

7. Miss Margarita

Bar, Brasserie, Restaurant, Mexican, American, Vegetarian

The kind of place where you’d pop in for a margarita but easily end up staying for a few hours, Miss Margarita brings the vivacious vibes of Mexico to the laid-back and convivial Byron Bay. The margaritas are as zingy and fresh as they look when shaken up in front of you, and the guacamole bowl served with salty corn chips makes for the perfect pairing. Pull up a chair and lean back into the mellow Mexican vibes.

8. Rae’s on Watergos

Boutique Hotel, Hotel

Set in the hotel of the same name, Rae’s sits in a ’70s mission-style villa on Wategos Beach, just outside of town. Those who aren’t staying in the hotel can still immerse themselves in its ethereal setting with a trip to the Dining Room – a white-washed, art-filled restaurant dappled with pastel tones and boasting a menu firmly focused on fresh and local produce. The raw yellowfin tuna, for example, will have been caught just a few miles down the coast, while heartier dishes like plum-glazed duck with radicchio, pancetta jam and beetroot bring the intense and organic flavours of the countryside.

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