If there is one part of East Coast you keep hearing about no matter where you are in Australia – or even outside the country – it is Byron Bay.
Loved by both backpackers and Aussies, it is a town known for its hippie vibes, good surfing beaches, fight against big chains and laid-back alternative lifestyle. Buildings are low, beaches are endless and the nights are long.
Iconic Byron Bay lighthouse is located in Cape Byron, the easternmost part of mainland Australia. Climbing up there is a tourist 1-0-1 thing to do.
We started our walk at the beach, where the clearliness of the water still is astonishing to us. I will miss that once I am back home looking at the green, dark water of the Baltic Sea.
Then we had a lovely coastal walk up the hill to the lighthouse and managed to see some dolphins jumping in the water.
The view from up the hill revealed how Byron Bay has managed to keep to small town look, even though it is actually highly popular tourist destination.
We had fun in Byron Bay and it definitely has a distinctively different vibe to it, compared to many other town along the East Coast. It has a rough look with its streets having seen the best days and the buildings looking a bit rundown, but I feel that was also intentional. But it hides great little shops and cafes. Although we mostly used the opportunity to cook at home, we did have some great flavours in the eateries as well.
However we saw plenty of well-known chains and the truth is, that the area has become more and more expensive for both visitors and people wanting to live there. Near the beach and especially towards Cape Byron we saw amazing and prestigious houses, that undoubtedly come with a hefty price tag. We got a sneak peak to this already when looking for accommodation, since Byron Bay was clearly on the higher end of scale when it came to the prices along the East Coast.
Later we were told that there are good day-trip destinations from Byron, so it does offer more than the town itself. But truth to be told, our two nights trip to Byron felt enough and we did not really feel that we missed out on much by not staying longer. Of course, we could have had a day or two at the beach, spend one day at the weekend market and then hired kayaks to go see dolphins more up close. But none of that is Byron Bay -only experience.
Maybe it would have been different, it we would have travelled from South to North like most other backpackers. Then it would have been one of the first small towns to visit and maybe then it would have felt more fresh. Yes, it is unique among the many other towns we saw, but it still is a small town with chilled and sleepy feeling. And we really missed some big city action, where you can get lost to the endless streets, museums and neighborhoods. (And luckily Brisbane has not let us down.)
For now all I can say is that Byron Bay is definitely worth a visit, but it did not stole our hearts. I almost feel I should apologize for saying such a renegade thing, that is how much love there is around this city.