After arriving in Brisbane to begin my four months in Australia, my friend Elizabeth and I decided to make Byron Bay our first destination. We loved it so much that when our trip was coming to an end, we returned to Byron Bay one last time.
Byron Bay is the kind of place where you can let out a huge sigh, eat gelato for breakfast, make new friends, spend your day sitting in hammocks, and just let life happen. These are my top five reasons to relax and unwind on the East Coast of Australia.
I quickly realized that Byron Bay was unlike anywhere I’d ever been. Everyone was super chill and talked to you in a ‘dude, I just caught a sick wave on my board and now I’m going to nap on the beach’ sort of drawl. In addition to the stereotypical gorgeous surfer dudes, I also met some fellow Canadians who went to Byron Bay for a visit and never left and backpackers who had also stumbled upon this slice of heaven.
You know when you’re walking down the street and someone hands you a flier, asks for money, or tries to get you to sign a petition? In Byron Bay, a man will stop you simply to make sure you are having a great day and hand you a photocopied sheet of positive affirmations that he has written down.
I think the moment Elizabeth and I realized that we were in the most laid back place on earth is when we were shuffling (yes, shuffling; there’s no need to rush in a place like this) down the street and a car slowly drove by. Instead of yelling out something rude or inappropriate, one of the guys in the car gave a slow but genuine smile, waved, and very slowly said, “heeellloooo seexxiiieess”.
Main Beach was a short walk away from our hostel through a little path. The beaches are stunning and if you’re interested in learning how to surf while you’re there, there’s no shortage of lessons being offered by companies and hostels. However, it’s more likely that one of your cool new friends will offer to take you out and show you how it’s done.
Both of our stays in Byron Bay were at Backpackers Inn. During our first stay there was a sangria night where you paid 5 (or 10?) dollars for a BBQ and all you can drink sangria. Picture a bunch of tanned, messy haired backpackers each getting a cup of sangria and heading for the back of the line for a couple of hours. It was like that. If you were wearing white you had the option to chug your drink and get a refill without getting back in line IF you didn’t spill any on yourself.
The Bathroom Stalls
I kid you not; the bathroom stalls are one of the things I remember most fondly about Byron Bay. Most bathroom stalls, if sporting graffiti, have rude comments or pointless information. Do we really care if Jenny loves Alex forever or not? In Byron Bay, the bathroom stalls are a place of art. There are beautiful pictures, inspirational quotes, and positive messages for fellow bathroom goers.
The Day Trips
The hostel offered a lot of day trips but we didn’t go on any because we were too busy shuffling towards the beach and calmly and slowly telling each other how excited we were to have found the most relaxing place in the world. If you have the gusto to take one of the day trips, there are lots to choose from. Don’t be surprised if the bus that takes you to your destination is painted in tie-dye colors, has furry purple seats, and plays reggae music the whole way. It might be a good idea to ask for a list of ingredients when some ladies in the next town over try to sell you a bag of cookies.
We did manage to go on a few hiking trails. One of the most memorable hikes was the Lighthouse Walk, which takes you to the most easterly point of Australia for some breathtaking views and (hopefully) a glimpse of Australian Wildlife.