When I told my Aussie friend Emily that we were coming to Australia for a few weeks, she immediately said we’d have to visit Byron Bay. (She said that anything further north at the end of December would be too hot and humid, so we appreciated her rec!) A quick flight from Sydney, Byron Bay is a very popular holiday destination for surfers, yogis, backpackers, and new-age hippies who want to pretend that it’s still the 1960s. It’s also just an overall wonderful place for families and couples as well. The area has actually modernized a lot since my last visit in 2005, but the gorgeous scenery and laid-back vibe are still there.
To get to Byron Bay from Sydney, you can either drive up the coast for nine hours, or you can do what we did, which was a one hour flight into Ballina Airport, then the $16 Xcede shuttle bus into Byron. (The alternative is hiring a $95 taxi at the Ballina Airport for the 30 minute drive to Byron, or just renting your own car.)
Byron Bay gets packed over the Christmas holidays, so we booked our hotel months in advance. We absolutely loved our stay at Aaron’s at Byron (can you guess who picked the hotel?). Its sister property (Aabi’s at Byron) is supposedly fabulous, too. Just a short walk from the center of town, Aaron’s had everything we needed: modern and spacious rooms, nice pool and spa, and even a communal kitchen and BBQ… that we never used. But we liked knowing that we could’ve cooked if we had wanted to!
We spent our four relaxing days in Byron visiting the various beaches, hiking up to the lighthouse, and trying the local restaurants. In the evenings we met friends from Sydney at the Beach Hotel (“the Beachie”) for drinks in the beer garden.
Below is a list of our favorite restaurants and cafes in Byron:
- Miss Margarita – surprisingly good Mexican food! Great happy hour deals and located super close to the main beach.
- The Top Shop – so good we went twice! Open for breakfast and lunch, they serve refreshing acai bowls, strong coffee, famous burgers, and lots of other great food and drink options. Definitely worth the walk up the hill! Bring a towel and lay out on the front lawn while you wait for your food.
- Success Thai – $10 daily specials, incredible laksa. Bonus points because they were open on Christmas day.
- Orgasmic Falafel – delicious falafel, but terrible lemonade! It tasted like rosewater perfume, but I’ll forgive them because the falafel balls were so yummy.
- Bombay to Byron – Aaron had a craving for Indian food on Christmas Eve, and it seems like he was not alone because business was booming! Not terribly cheap, but the portions were massive.
Four days/three nights in Byron seemed like the perfect amount of time for us, but we’d love to go back again some day!