I’ll warn you wayyyyyy in advance here that this post is going go be a bit bohemian and new age-y. There’s going to be talk of mysticism and connectedness to nature…as well as a healthy dose of clothing-optional beach imagery (all cleverly and respectfully edited for the purposes of keeping my blog G-rated). So if you’re up for this potentially eye-rolling experience, please read along. And if you’re not, don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone if you read it anyways. 😉 We now begin the story of a long weekend away in Byron Bay.
But first, some background…if you live in NSW Australia for a while, you will soon hear tell of “Byron Bay” as a must-see location. The more you research Byron Bay, however, the more you learn that it’s known as a bit of a hippy-dippy, ‘no worries-esque’ beach bastion where people set up camp (literally/figuratively) and kind of drift away in to one heck of an easy-going quality of life. Clearly, as I tickle the greying fringes of mid-life, this sounded right up my alley. So I’ve had an awareness of Byron Bay for many months now but no real formalised plans to visit. Back track to November (and cue the mystical music) during our phenomenal week of SCUBA diving the Philippines with DFL, Daniel and I met an incredible diver and new DFLer, Zan. Turns out, when Zan isn’t trying to rescue sea turtles in the Philippines, she hails from Byron Bay, so we immediately started cooking up a plan to visit and do some diving there. We ultimately picked a date in mid February as that fit everyone’s schedules and voila (zip the frames forward a bit), here is where the story truly begins.
Daniel and I arrived in Byron on a Friday morning after a zippy, 50-minute flight from Sydney. We had a glorious, 4-day weekend getaway booked rather than trying to cram in to something shorter. The plan was simple: do some diving with Zan on Friday afternoon and Saturday and then enjoy the rest of the time plucking around Byron as an extended surface interval. We were radiating with excitement about diving Byron Bay as it’s quite unique to Australia and the world in general. There is an ocean confluence of warm and cool waters that takes place at a famous dive site, Julian Rocks. At this random rock formation, the location teems with creatures that you would normally not see in Australian waters but rather across the wider Asia-Pacific waters, in general. If you’re on the main beach in Byron, you’re looking straight at Julian Rocks offshore:
Sadly, none of these diving dreams would come to pass! The ocean was extremely rough with large, soul-crushing swells that resulted in all SCUBA diving being canceled for the whole weekend. We were disappointed but in Aussie fashion, we went with the flow and reconstructed an entirely new plan!
Friday became walking around Byron Bay, relaxing for a bit on the beach in some stunningly bright sun (whilst observing the visiting Irish getting cooked alive), checking in to our perfectly quaint Byron AirBNB, getting some deep-tissue massages and then a drive up to the Cape Byron Bay Lighthouse with Zan and partner Akkadia for jaw-dropping views perched upon Australia’s most easterly point. After that, we had delicious craft cocktails and a lovely dinner at The Roadhouse, one of Z&A’s fave local spots.
We woke on Saturday with a singular goal in mind: go to the beach and bum around in the sun and sand for the day. Turns out, this is exceptionally easy to pull-off in Byron! We hopped in the car after a quick breakfast at The Top Shop cafe (conveniently attached to our AirBNB) and headed south out of town to Kings Beach – a popular, secluded and clothing optional beach. We spent the rest of the morning lounging on the beach and sunning parts of our bodies that rarely get exposure to UV rays. Whilst relaxing, (cue that mystical music again), we ended up hitting it off with a fellow traveller, Luke. He was spending some time in Byron whilst on a holiday from his work as a paramedic. We bonded pretty immediately with Luke and ended up chatting away the afternoon and hanging out for the rest of the weekend. Before we knew it, it was time to wrap up our beach day and head back in to Byron to meet Z&A at their house in the hinterlands for some dinner and drinks.
The winding drive from Byron Bay proper to their gorgeous home offered some seriously wow-factor views. We had climbed upward out of the flatlands and could look back from the road straight down to the ocean and lighthouse far in the distance. It was a view worthy of pulling the car over and snapping some pics!
Zan and Akkadia then hosted us to perfection at their wonderful home surrounded by private, lush forest. We sipped wine, had great conversation and some seriously impressive tagine cooked by Akkadia. We bid them adieu, knowing we would see them a few weeks later in Sydney for Mardi Gras!
Sunday was a slightly more adventurous version of Saturday. We decided it was another day for exploring various water and beach spots but this time we headed north out of Byron Bay toward Tyagarah Nature Reserve to go take a dip in the restorative tea tree lake. The water of the lake is stained a reddish-brown from all of the tea trees that surround it – and tea tree oil is known to be a popular remedy for all kinds of ailments – so the idea of jumping in to an entire lake of healing oils is probably the closest we can all get to a fountain of youth! The water was warm and you could see the coloration on your skin as you treaded about. I certainly won’t claim it shaved any years off my life but it was one of those impossible-to-pass-up opportunities that I’ll remember forever. It’s one of those places that reminds you everything nature has to offer and how important it is to go connect and be part of it.
After the medicinal skinny dip in Tyagarah lake, we continued down the road to Tyagarah beach, yet another clothing optional location in the Byron area. At this point in the journey, you start to wonder why anyone wears clothes here at all. It seems the better option would be to just isolate a 20km radius around Byron and call it what it clearly wants to be – a giant nudist colony! 😉 The beach at Tyagarah was unquestionably one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. It reminded me a bit of 7-mile beach in Grand Cayman, except delete all the resorts and entirely replace them with natural surroundings and beauty. The water here was also strangely warm compared to the waters of Byron Bay just 4KMs south. We didn’t stay too long at Tyagarah as we had not planned for the extreme sun exposure on that beach – seriously, if you decide to go there, bring umbrellas or beach tents to ensure you don’t roast. Even though we were fully covered in SPF 50+, I knew it wouldn’t take too long to get lobstered out there. So we opted for the final beachy plan for the day – return to Kings Beach to lounge in the shaded sun!After our trio of unclad locales, it was time to get draped and head in to Byron Bay proper for some beers and dinner. We ended up at Balcony and sat out on the umm…balcony…to enjoy our meal. After that, we had a stroll along the beach to watch the sun set and take in our last evening of Byron’s magic. There were all kinds of people hanging about, listening to music, running around on the sand…it honestly boggles my mind that this place exists and likely rinses & repeats this same scenario on a daily basis. It’s a vibe. It’s a thing. It’s just…Byron!
Oh hello, fine reader. Did you make it this far? If so, bravo to you! You have what many seem to have lost in recent years: an attention span. 😉 So now it’s time for a little bit of a surprise to wrap up the story of our Byron Bay weekend.
On Saturday night after Zan and Akkadia’s, Daniel and I got back late to our AirBNB around 1130pm and parked the car under a full moon. Two seconds later we were greeted by a friendly, tongue & tail-wagging black labrador who came bounding out of the dark. We petted him for a moment and laughed at how good-natured he was, he jumped up on me at one point and I distinctly remember feeling a collar…he followed us toward the entrance to the AirBNB but ultimately he took off to go frolic joyfully in the moonlight. We didn’t think too much of it, although I thought it a bit curious (and too laid back, even for Byron Bay) to just let your dog roam freely in the evening. So you can imagine my horror when I saw the below on Monday morning as we were getting ready to drive to the airport.
I cannot fathom the agony of having a lost pet, so I dropped a text to the contact listed in the sheet. Fear not, gentle reader, it’s a happy ending for this lucky guy. Turns out, he had already been found and the signs were in need of removal. (It was awesome to meet you, Bailey! Now don’t follow the lure of the full moon anymore, buddy.)
And that is how we concluded our lovely, mostly disrobed, entirely gorgeous long weekend getaway in Byron Bay. I can confidently say we became experts of the various beaches there but until we get back and under the water of Julian Rocks, I shall remain restless….thanks for reading and hope you have a fantastic day! XOXO -JW