I feel like a happy little hipster as I cruise into one of the most special, spiritual and sexiest places on earth - Byron Bay.
'CHEER UP, SLOW DOWN, CHILL OUT' is painted in cheerful colours on the first sign you see as you cruise into Byron Bay.
It used to annoy me when I lived there for 20 years, sounding like an outdated hippie slogan. But now as I drive back into my hometown two years after leaving Byron Bay for Paris, I feel like a happy little hipster for the first time in ages.
Where is Byron Bay?
Cradled in a north-facing, wine glass-shaped bay is Australia’s most easterly point, where the sun first hits this Great Southern Land when it rises each morning.
During my 20 years here I fully embraced it’s luscious lifestyle. I raised my daughter, discovered yoga, learnt to run 5 kilometres around the lighthouse, grew my own organic veggies, imbibed green smoothies and turmeric lattés, swam in the ocean almost every day of the year and probably gave myself skin cancer from the amount of time I spent on the beach.
Now I’m back to see friends and family and once again soak up the sunshine that emanates throughout the region and in the soul of every person that lives and visits here. I’m staying with family on their expansive, lush hinterland property with views to Mount Warning. I wake each morning to birdsong, endless green vistas and cups of Rooibos tea overlooking the horizon pool.
What’s so sexy about Byron Bay?
- It starts when you sink your toes into seductively soft sand.
- It’s the scented frangipanis, orange jessamine and gardenias perfuming the air.
- The sounds of crashing surf and squawking seagulls.
- The hushed, sacred spaces in yoga studios, tarot readers’ suites and wholistic wellness centres.
- The glimpses of naughty nudists at nearby Kings and Belongil beaches.
- The limitless vitamin D and vitamin sea.
A whole book couldn’t begin to cover the fusion of sexy soulfulness that is, to my mind, one of the most special places on earth.
A ROUNDUP OF BYRON FAVES
The first place I go to time after time. Perching on a high table next to the revolving sushi train, I eye off plates of endamame beans, fried lotus roots and green beans topped with crushed peanuts before deciding to stick with my favourite - miso soup, tempura silken tofu, seaweed + daikon salad with miso dressing and a side of brown rice, washed down with earthenware mugs of fragrant green tea.
Byron Bay Cookies
Oh how I wish they’d open a store in France! The best cookies are the ones covered in Smarties. No wait, the lamington & rosella jelly ones. Hang on, the gluten-free sticky date & ginger … arghhh, the choices! I settle on a big bag of white chocolate + macadamia nut ‘factory seconds’ for a tiny $4.
Want to rub shoulders with the sexiest crowds in Byron?
See gaggles of glammed-up girls, celebrities and those-in-the-know in hip eateries where the music, food and ambience scream sex appeal.
Get to Loft early for cocktails and bar food then Bang Bang for luscious, fragrant modern Asian cuisine. As a die-hard local though, I can’t go past my all-time fave Orient Express Eatery for quiet, luxe Asian ambiance and cuisine like works of art.
Over the years I’ve collected quite a few hip yet timeless, quality pieces from this lifestyle shop, all of which have seen me through Byron Bay summers and Parisian winters. A collection of necklaces I bought a few years ago was keenly eyed off by staff at Zadig + Voltaire, Paris. When I walked in one day, shop staff swooned over the eclectic, exotic pieces and asked to take photos of them to replicate for their label!
Hope + May
A quintessential Byron Bay shopping experience for pared-back, luxe fashion and homeware pieces such as giant coral, sand coloured silk and linen floaty dresses, raffia totes, straw mules and frangipani scented soaps. I just wish it would all fit in my suitcase to take back to France.
TOP EXPERIENCES IN BYRON BAY
- Running free and deliriously happy on the fine, white sand from The Pass to Main Beach and back, before diving straight into the aqua ocean to refresh.
- Wildlife spotting : wander along Jonson Street to gawk and a giggle at the herds of wildlife, including dreadlocked hippies, Hare Krishna devotées weaving through traffic, brazen girls walking straight off the beach in Brazilian bikinis and into restaurants and nd the odd celebrity, too, like Chris Hemsworth and Elle MacPherson.
- Walk the lighthouse route : starting at Captain Cook’s Lookout, through the rainforest overlooking Tallows Beach, down the steep steps to five-star Wategoes Beach and ending at what I believe is the world’s best beach - The Pass - catching glimpses of dolphins and whales while you’re at it.
- Drive up into the hinterland around Bangalow, Possum Creek and Coopers Shoot to stop by roadside market stalls, see plantations of bananas, coffee, avocados and stone fruit plus majestic, sweeping views over the entire Bay all the way north to the Gold Coast.
- Visit the organic farmers markets on a Thursday morning to skull a wheatgrass shot, stock up on tropical blooms and locally grown produce you know is super-fresh, because it was picked at 4am that very morning by the people who sell it to you.
- Too hungover to shop or hike the lighthouse walk? Get your lazy ass down to Thai Sabai for a traditional Thai massage. It’s like having yoga performed on your poor, lazy body as you’re gently but firmly pulled and stretched into a state of bliss, while wearing a kimono and using no oil.
Byron Bay is a smorgasbord of visual, culinary and sensory delights. It’s also a zoo, full of every species of human on the planet. I am occasionally appalled yet always entranced at the endless discoveries in Australia’s sexiest town. But as they say in the not surprisingly popular AA groups in Byron Bay, “Take what you like and leave the rest”.