Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chilling out in Byron Bay

My plan after Sydney and Ayers Rock was to see some of the east coast of Australia between Sydney and Brisbane. But since I had spent some extra time dancing in Sydney and wanted spend some more time dancing in Brisbane as well there wasn’t a whole lot left. So it happened that Byron Bay was my one and only stop between the two big cities. I had asked around for the best places to visit on the coast and Byron kept coming up – frankly people had a hard time finding anything else to recommend which made my planning easier.

So I boarded my first Australian bus – and hopefully the last night bus. I can tell you it wasn’t like those first class buses I took in Central and South America. Luckily the bus wasn't full so I had a two seats to myself but still found it hard to come up with a position to sleep in. The 12 hours went quite fast anyway. It was nice to wake up after the uncomfortable sleep in the bus to see a stunning sunrise over one field in our stop-over. 

When I got to Byron Bay there was a van to pick up the people to my hostel so that made my life a lot easier. I checked in and I simply tossed my now massive backpack to my room and headed to the beach to sleep some more, that was about the only thing I could think of. The beach was very beautiful and when the sun was going down there were still quite a few people on the waves, surfing. I thought I needed to be a little social so I joined some girls from my room for the hostel’s karaoke night – I was the first one on the stage, just like in the good old days with my friends back home!  

Afternoon in Byron Bay - beach life

Beautiful sunset

Byron Bay is quite a party place and it's designed to cater to the 18-25 year-old travelers that fill up the city around the year. The town is very touristy, with bars and cafés, tour agencies and sarong & sun screen shops lining the streets. Really not a lot to see there. The main draw is the beach and it is very nice. There are lots of water sports you can do there, surfing especially. Surf board shops are everywhere and you can rent one for about 20 AUD for the day. There are some spots with milder waves for practicing and lots of surf camps & teachers are available. The beach has fantastic sand to just lounge on and that’s really all I did during the days – in the mornings I ran on the beach, afternoons sat on beach and the evening just chilled. After the sun sets you can expect to meet lots of very young, very intoxicated people. People may look at you funny if you say you’re just going to sleep and not party.

As usual, there are some free things for the budget tourist. Some hostels and bars offer free evening meals on select days (or even every day). Don’t expect to find free internet though. One nice free way to spend time is to walk up to the lighthouse and spot dolphins and whales (depending on season). I didn’t manage to see either – but lots of surfers and yes again a very beautiful sunset! 

Surf is up!

If you love surfing and sunsets then Byron Bay is the place to be!

If you like taking tours Byron Bay has a lot to offer. One of the most popular tour is to Nimbin. It will only set you back 20-30 AUD and as far as I understood the main point of the tour is to go eat marijuana cookies. Hmm… not for me this but goes well for the 18-25 year-old party crowd. There’s also plenty of trips to the islands off the central East Coast such as the Whitsundays and Fraser Island. And don’t forget the local (standard in every beach city) skydives, snorkeling and diving excursions. Surfers Paradise is the closest city and worth a stop as well if you’re traveling up to Brisbane.

All in all I’d say Byron Bay is a very nice place for a couple of laid back days on the beach. Personally I enjoyed the three days of just relaxing, taking naps on the beach and running up and down the shoreline. And I needed that – I would have 10 jam-packed days of dancing in Brisbane & Gold Coast ahead of me!

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