by Courtney Lester

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Lined with cafes and bars, it was a difficult choice to decide where I wanted my afternoon drink, an Aussie tradition so to speak (or maybe just mine, but looking around everyone seems to be enjoying a beverage). I’m watching the stylish people flow in and out of my chosen destination and quite satisfied with the choice. I opted with a long island ice tea, and already feel the effects. The afternoon sun is warm on my face and I feel good about the day I’ve just had. I’m in Byron Bay.

Trust me, if you are looking for an Aussie experience, Byron is a must see for any tourist. Being the most easterly town in Australia, this tourist destination has much to offer, ranging from one extreme to the next. One of the main reasons people visit Bryon is because of the beaches. Arguably Bryon has the best beaches in Australia. With turquoise blue waters it’s hard not to splash around, not to mention the water is clear and offers clean swimming. The town was built off the main beach and has a small town feel. No high rises or smoggy air. You’re even allowed in the shops and restaurants without shoes or shirts!

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Located in the North East part of New South Whales (nearly 10 hours from Sydney and 2 ½ hours from Brisbane) it offers great surf breaks and ideally is a surfers paradise. The main bay in Byron has constant surfers roaming the beaches and water, while sun bakers stretch across the coast catching the rays. Byron has a “hippy” vibe and with all of the surfers, Aussie slang and bare foot residents, it’s easy to remember where you are. Flooded with backpackers Byron offers a social getaway and has a constant flow of live music, festivals and weekend markets.

Not into sharing the beach? Or looking for a quieter holiday? No worries mate, simply step outside of the main area and you’ll find yourself in one of Byron’s isolated beach coves. With over 30 km of beaches it’s not hard to have the area to yourself (drive an extra 15 minutes outside and you can visit the nudist beach –you know – if you get bored of soaking up the rays by yourself). Surprisingly, if beaches aren’t your thing, you can still enjoy your holiday here. A short drive inland will lead you to a coastal rainforest and a National park.

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There are a few “must see” activities, depending on your interests. Byron is a popular place for extreme sports, such as sky diving and paragliding. If you have the stomach, you won’t regret the scenery. You should also take a short drive, or hike up the hill to where the lighthouse sits. With dramatic views, I’d defiantly check out the lookout, and then take a short walk down the hill where you can take a photo with a sign indicating that this point is the most easterly point in Australia (a good bragging point for family and friends). If you visit Byron in the winter season, (don’t panic winter days rarely get below 20 degrees Celsius) you can see whales and dolphins enjoying the coast. Whales are often seen breaching and splashing around. It is not uncommon to see them from the beach, and an unbelievable experience. If you want to get an even closer look check out one of Byron’s kayak tours; here, you’ll kayak with wild dolphins, possibly see some whales, sting rays and sea turtles. Best of all, if you don’t get to see dolphins you can come back for free. But with a 90% success rate, your chances are good. If you are a surfer, prepare yourself for an endless choice of destinations. Byron, being a surf town, you can easily find out about the best surf breaks or what areas look good that day on the local news or a friendly face heading to the beach! Even if you’ve decided to stay clear of the main beach, I recommend taking a quick walk down to check it out. Here you’ll find famous sand art. Switched every few weeks, the artists create sand sculptors for all to enjoy, while of course working on only donations.

Accommodation in Byron can range from fancy guesthouses to camping. No matter what your holiday budget is, you can adapt it here. For backpackers, please check out Nomads. It’s not a far walk to the main pubs and it offers dorm rooms, camping, and $5 dinners. Not to mention you will get a few photos of lizards. For families or couples looking to spend a bit more, I’d try staying in one of the rainforest resorts to escape the coast for a few days or get a private bungalow from one of the resorts located on the beach.

Byron has a great social life. It’s an artsy town and usually has an art exhibition taking place, or a film festival, comedy show, and lots of live bands. Many Australian up and coming bands get their chance to play here. With such a laid back feel there is hardly any drama and locals love to share their spirit for the town.

Byron is defiantly one of the most pleasurable places to live and the locals here really have it down. You can’t help but be jealous that this isn’t their holiday but their lifestyle.