This stylish beach town is the epitome of understated chic.
Less than an hour drive from the Gold Coast Airport is Byron Bay, an idyllic beach town in Australia’s state of New South Wales. Long a paradise for backpackers and surfers, it has since turned into a posh destination, attracting A-list celebrities like Chris Hemsworth and Margot Robbie. Thankfully, the seaside getaway has managed to maintain its laid-back vibes and free-spirited nature amid this change: Wave riders still walk around barefoot with board in tow, locals and tourists alike grab a front-row seat to the sunset by the shore, and musicians croon notes and strum instruments on the streets in the evenings. And the tragic spate of wildfires to the north have mercifully subsided.
For the design enthusiast the town is utter eye candy, and done in a manner that is so effortless that the bohemian beach aesthetic is just as much a part of its identity as its easygoing atmosphere. From cozy coffee hangouts to chic stores stocked with spectacular home goods, here are the must-visit spots when you’re vacationing in this sunny destination.
28 Degrees Byron Bay.
Shrouded in tropical greenery, it’s easy to miss 28 Degrees Byron Bay, but the privacy is why guests love this intimate seven-room hideaway. From the fountain in the garden to the design-led rooms, this 1940s Federation-style cottage has been transformed to deliver the finest in barefoot luxury. Comfortable quarters—stocked with locally sourced snacks, including homemade organic fruit compote—boast recycled French oak floors, Hale Mercantile Co. bed linens, Deiji Studios robes, and thoughtfully considered adornments. You’ll get plenty of home decor inspiration from your stay.
The Bower Barn at The Bower Byron Bay.
If anyone can prove that a motel can be given a new lease on life, it’s the Bower Byron Bay. Undeterred by the humble framework it took over, the hotel opened in July 2017 with 24 well-appointed accommodations. The most stunning options are the Bower Cottage and Bower Barn. The former is a spacious five-bedroom, decade-old dwelling perfect for groups and families, while the latter is the ideal couple’s retreat, with charming features like sliding wooden doors and a dreamy glass-ceiling bathroom outfitted with an egg-shaped tub. And even though it’s a little far from the beach, the property’s magnesium pool—with a retro 1960s vibe courtesy of its circular shape—is equally as inviting.
Folk.Photo: Maggie Dylan / Courtesy of Folk
The Bayleaf café is a perennial favourite for breakfast in town, but if you don’t mind the short drive, locals will tell you that Folk serves up some of the best coffee and organic bites in the area. If you get there at the right moment, the covered nook furnished with a patterned rug and low table might still be up for grabs; otherwise, perch at one of the picnic tables outside and enjoy an alfresco meal at this mellow boho hangout.
Walk around Byron Bay and you’ll find that every other store is a clothing boutique. Spell & the Gypsy Collective, Rowie, and Mister Zimi are all popular, but if you’re also looking to spruce up your digs, Citizen Nomade and Island Luxe Tribe both have home goods in addition to bohemian garments. Nikau Store is a plant lover’s dream, and will soon be offering ceramics, clay, and flower workshops in the coming months. And the Society Inc. offers a variety of vintage furniture, hardware, and curiosities.
Three Blue Ducks.
The lads behind Three Blue Ducks are no strangers to Australia’s food scene, but they’ve taken it to the next level with their outpost at the Farm. Housed in a shed made mostly from recycled materials, the restaurant is part of an 80-acre venture by Tom and Emma Lane that’s devoted to organic farming. Take a tour around the grounds and learn about their sustainable practices before savouring one of the most memorable farm-to-table meals you’ll ever have.
The Range.Photo: Alicia Taylor
With an impressive project like the Farm, it’s no surprise that the Lanes own an equally spectacular home. Perched atop 120 acres of verdant land, the Range is an Australian farmhouse–cum–Spanish finca with style in spades. Two cabins adjacent to the main house are offered as farm stays throughout the year, while the entire property is available for exclusive use during select weeks. With incredible views and secluded privacy, this is the kind of oasis that dreams are made of.
Harvest.Photo: Kate Holmes / Courtesy of Harvest
A trip to Byron Bay isn’t complete without a visit to Newrybar. The small town in the region’s hinterlands is where you’ll find Harvest, one of the best restaurants in the area. Occupying a Queenslander-style home—a raised dwelling characterised by a weatherboard exterior, an expansive veranda, and a corrugated roof—the establishment serves exquisite fare using the freshest of local ingredients, some of which come straight from the adjacent gardens. You’ll also find a wood-fire oven that’s over a hundred years old in the backyard, where its famous sourdough bread is baked, in addition to a deli next door stocked with an impressive mix of local and international artisanal goods.
Newrybar Merchants.Photo: Kaitlin Liemandt / Courtesy of Newrybar Merchants
While in Newrybar, head across the street to Newrybar Merchants. A collective for local creatives, this shop is all about supporting independently owned businesses and honouring the essence of Byron Bay. From rustic furnishings to modern accessories, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone at this gem.
Comma.Photo: Lisa Sorgini / Courtesy of Comma
If you’re heading over to the burgeoning neighbourhood of Arts and Industry Estate, take the retro, solar-powered train and stop by Habitat. Byron Bay’s newest shopping and design centre is filled with several stores for design lovers, including Shackpalace Rituals, where you’ll find a bounty of crystals in addition to incredible handmade ceramics and cutlery. Just make sure you also add in some time for Comma, a massage spa down the street that puts as much thought into its decor to soothe the soul as it does its treatments.
The Mez Club.Photo: Raffaella Dice / Courtesy of the Mez Club
Smoothies and avocado toasts are plentiful in Byron Bay, but so is outstanding international fare. The Mez Club gives you a dose of the Cyclades Islands with its whitewashed interiors and Mediterranean cuisine, while St. Elmo presents delicious Spanish tapas in its black-and-white dining room with a beautiful bar clad in mosaic tiles. And for a late-night spot, Locura’s Latin American dishes and elevated cocktails are made all the better by its industrial, minimalist space.
Tweed Regional Gallery.Photo: Courtesy of Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre / Justin Ealand
Admirers of street art will appreciate the murals in Byron Bay, but there are also a few galleries to check out in the area. Retrospect and Lone Goat are right in town, while Tweed Regional Gallery, about a 45-minute drive away, puts on a rotation of exhibitions and pays homage to Australian painter Margaret Olley with a centre that re-creates her home studio.