WHEN IN ROME
Documenting my travels across the globe
My photos from Byron Bay hardly do the town justice. Yes, I will admit that it was not the most photogenic beach town I’ve ever visited. Still, there is an ambiance about the place that within two days has you completely hooked.
This little surfer town is one of the most chill places I’ve ever been too. Everyone walks around barefoot. It doesn’t matter if they’re at the grocery store or eating in a restaurant, they’re barefoot. There are hardly even crosswalks. People just walk across the road when they feel like it and expect the cars to stop. Half the residents are sporting dreadlocks and piercings, the other half look like they popped out of a Roxy advertisement. The style is contagious, seeing as I first showed up in my usual casual-sport attire, and left with a pair of bohemian pants and Reef sandals. I got the pants at Byron Bay’s first Sunday of the month market. The market was filled with all kinds of craft vendors, artists, live music, food trucks, and refreshing fruit juice popsicles.
I booked my stay in Byron Bay with Wake Up. Wake Up is easily the nicest hostel I have ever experienced. It’s modern and clean, with a beautiful beach house vibe. The common areas are fantastic. There is a huge enclosed patio area with picnic tables, a cute indoor area with bohemian carpets and wooden stumps for stools, and no shortage of balconies situated within the palm trees. The hostel itself is just steps from the beach. By far the best part about the hostel though was the incredible amenities. Everything was free — surfboards, bikes, yoga classes, and shuttles running all day to and from the center of town. They even hosted events like a free wine and cheese night every Wednesday. Every person that I met there that had no itinerary ended up extending their stay a few more days or even a few more weeks. I would have done the same, had I not already booked my flight to Cairns.
My first morning in Byron Bay, I went with the hostel to the Cape Byron Lighthouse for sunrise. Yes, the hostel even shuttled us to the top for free at 5:15 am. It was so overcast that morning that we did not see one ray of sunshine. I ended up going back to the lighthouse another morning and was lucky enough to see a beautiful sunrise. The morning of the successful sunrise, I walked the trail down from the lighthouse through the tropical woods and along the coastline back to the hostel. It passed through the most eastern point of mainland Australia, the less touristy and more quaint Wategos beach, and Fisherman’s Lookout.
Bryon Bay is known as one of the best surf spots in the world. It’s home to three of Australia’s top surfers. And so I had my first ever surf class in Byron Bay with Soul Surf School. I walked along the flat beach to their shop in the center of town, listening to the waves and watching the happy dogs run by. The surf lesson was a blast. I have always been terrified of surfing. Something about the combination of waves, murky ocean water, rip currents, and surfboards make my heart stop. But my instructor, Kyle, made the experience super easy and fun. He even brought along his adorable puppy, Bean. I caught on relatively quickly and surfed heaps of waves. By the end of the two hours, I was incredibly sad to have to leave the water. When we were driving back into town, I just looked out the window with the biggest smile on my face, realizing how much I loved this place.
Most of my days in Byron were spent relaxing in the hostel’s common areas, on the beach, or biking into the town to grab a bite to eat. We also spent a lot of time at the Treehouse Cafe next door to our hostel. It was a quirky spot open all day and night, serving everything from coffee and avocado toast to pizza and beer. The cafe has a fun, covered outdoor seating area with an eclectic assortment of retro chairs and tables.
At night, most people go out to the bars in town for live music. One night, we all went to reggae night at a local beach bar. It was more like reggae mixed with hip-hop and house music, which was really fun. After the show, we walked on the beach back to the hostel, under the beautiful starlit sky. Aside from the lighthouse in the distance, the beach was pitch black and the sky was clear so we could see millions of stars. We were walking along the misty coastline when we realized the sand has bioluminescent plankton. As we scraped the sand with our feet, the tiny plankton sparkled. It was a magical experience.
Byron Bay is a place I could call home, at least for a little while. It’s the kind of town you come to when you need a break from the fast-paced world we live in today. In just a few short days, I felt recharged and energized for my next adventure — Port Douglas.
When In Rome
Two of my most cherished hobbies go hand-in-hand. Writing is my favorite way to reflect after traveling to a new country. I have kept this blog ever since I studied in Rome to share my travels with families and friends. I hope you enjoy learning about my experiences and getting a sense for my writing skills. If you have any questions, please reach out!