Want to know where to find the tastiest treats? The hippest (or hippiest) hangouts? The best beaches? Locals who live and breathe Byron Bay reveal their favourite spots in this guide to Byron Bay.
EXPERIENCE/CULTURE: Sunset Drumming, Main Beach, Top of Johnson Street, Byron Bay
‘My favourite place is by the wreck in Byron,’ says Mark Robertson who runs One Vision Productions, a not-for-profit who give disadvantaged kids a voice through hip hop workshops. Sunset drumming sessions, says Mark, are the perfect Byron experience for visitors and locals alike.
‘You can close your eyes and drift off to a distant moon. Bongo drums light the fire of the ravaged traveller, birds chirp in the sky while the sounds of waves beat to the setting sun. When you open your eyes you are reminded that you are sitting in one of the greatest places on Earth. A mountain capped horizon breathing blissfully as the sun sets. You have finally come home.’
Ready to drum, dance or observe the moment unfold? Drumming sessions take place at the Main Beach carpark at sundown every day and are open for anyone to get involved, connect with others and maybe feel like you’ve finally come home.
EAT WELL: Heart & Halo Good Food Bar, 4/14 Middleton Street, Byron Bay
Chad Kolcze, local rad dad and creator of Active Kids Books, also loves to swing by the sunset sessions at Main Beach after an active, healthy and creative day. ‘I like to finish the day off with a skate, a dance, a drum,’ he says, ‘and then eat dinner at Heart & Halo’.
Heart & Halo, a favourite for wholesome food fans, is located a little off the main Byron strip but is well worth hunting down. Using locally and organically sourced ingredients wherever possible, this laid back vegetarian joint creates conscious food that, in their own words, ‘is prepared and served with LOVE to benefit you and our beautiful community’. How can you go wrong?!
EAT/DRINK: The Roadhouse, 6/142 Bangalow Road, Byron Bay
Wholesome, locally sourced food is a bit of a theme in restaurants and cafes around Byron Bay, but what about places that go beyond the expected?
Local surfing legend Rusty Miller gives The Roadhouse his vote. ‘I go there for chai and breakfast,’ Rusty told the Sydney Morning Herald back in January this year, ‘their coffee is good, their menu is very original and funky.’
Based a little out of Byron Bay town centre, this café has a locovore lean by day and converts into a whisky bar by night. It’s also become known as the hipster hangout in town, so be warned (or get excited).
BEACH TIME: Wategos Beach, Marine Parade, Byron Bay
Having grown up in the area and spent the last six years living in the Byron Bay suburb of Suffolk Park, local midwife Sariya Austin has had plenty of opportunity to explore the Northern Rivers region. So what’s her all-time favourite spot?
‘I have to say Wategos for its grassy area, and also the actual beach for kids to play on and mums to relax on,’ she says.
And then there are the rock pools to check out, a fun wave to surf and the free-to-use BBQs. From a few hours to a whole day hangout, Wategos Beach is a great option for family fun.
SECRET SHOP: The Atlantic, 13 Marvell St Byron Bay
Edwina Johnson, director of the Byron Bay Writers Festival, also cites Wategos as a favourite spot to relax, particularly at sunset. ‘I put my feet in the water at Wategos and look across the bay at Mt Warning and the surrounding hinterland and feel very connected to the area and instantly relax if it’s been a busy or stressful day’, she says.
When it comes to another favourite spot in Byron Bay, The Atlantic – better known as one of our sister accommodation providers – has some classy, cool sales displays. ‘I feel like I am on holidays whenever I pop in there to see what beautiful wares they have,’ says Edwina, ‘and they stock one of my favourite books of last year ‘Surrender’ by Sydney based artist Joshua Yeldham.’
And so back to accommodation and guesthouses and our very own Virginia, owner and manager of Barbara’s Guesthouse. What might she recommend?
Find out very soon.