31 Jan Byron Bay – 5 adventures off the beaten track
Byron Bay is one of Australia’s most popular summer holiday destinations. It attracts an eclectic mix of backpackers, foreign travellers, families on summer vacation, hippies, celebrities and haute-boho creatives.
Prices sky rocket in the heat of summer, accommodation books out months in advance with beachfront camping booked a year in advance. There can be up to a 2 hour wait for dinner ‘walk ins’ and traffic is similar to a large city.
We knew all this when we decided to drive from Sydney to Byron to spend a week to “get out of the city” over the peak summer vacation period, January. So a little local knowledge was welcome, to help us escape the crowds. Here are 5 adventures off the beaten track.
SWIM IN BRUNSWICK RIVER
Just 10 minutes north of Byron Bay, there is sleepy little beach town called Ocean Shores, often overlooked by the popularity of her southern sister. With our last minute planning, we managed to get an Airbnb in Ocean Shores for the first few nights. It’s relaxed and quiet vibes were great – close enough to everything, yet far enough away from it all. It was close to Brunswick River, an estuary running through the Northern Rivers Region. You’ll find kayakers, canoes and kids on flotation devices, drifting down the river. With it’s sandy bottom and clear water, it’s the perfect place for a dip to cool off. Opposite the river, you can enjoy come delicious food at Yum Yum Cafe.
VISIT SUFFOLK TEA TREE LAKES
Tea tree lakes have healing power. The lake is infused with oils from the surrounding tea trees, which boosts your immune system, relieves aches and pains and cleanses your skin.
These lakes hold a spiritual significance as Indigenous women came here to bathe and give birth. You can really feel the energy of the place and the water is so soft against your skin.
It’s not easy to find. The best suggestion is to park at Broken Head and walk 1km North along the beach. You’ll come across a huge river mouth that will be dry or full (depending on the recent rainfall). If it’s dry, walk along it and you’ll soon find the lake.
When we arrived, we enjoyed a picnic by the bank amongst the trees. It was so quiet with hardly anyone else about. When we swam in the lake, it started sprinkling. As I watched the storm clouds roll in, and felt the soft rain on my face, and the oil in the water against my skin, I took in my surrounds. I felt so small in the expansive lake. It was peaceful and rejuvenating.
It wasn’t long until the lightening started and the rain became heavier, which was a pretty surreal experience! We thought we better get back to safety and ran all the way back to the car!
SUNSET SWIM AND PICNIC AT THE PASS
In the height of summer, the sun doesn’t say goodbye until 8:30pm. Pair this late departure with 30°C + and it becomes the perfect concoction to visit the beach in the evening, when the crowds are leaving! The Pass is a popular beach during the day, but when the metre parking switched off, we headed down to find only a few scramblers, doing the same thing we were – sunset swim amongst a breathtaking sky!
Take some wine and a picnic for dinner, to top it off!
SURF AT WATEGOS
Wategos beach is not really off the beaten track. However, it is in someways because it’s inaccessible for those without a car, which generally rules out backpackers and overseas travellers (unless they’ve rented a car, of course). Instead, they are likely to flock to Byron Main Beach, which makes the Wategos’ vibe still secluded and exclusive.
For those with a car, parking is up to 4 hours, so make sure you’re prepared for the day with an umbrella, eskie (or ‘chilly bin’) and surfboard. The surf was small when we were there, but enough of a ripple to have a great ol’ time on a large piece of foam!
REJUVENATE AT BUDDHA GARDENS DAY SPA
On our last day of Byron, we treated ourselves to a spa treatment at Buddha Gardens Day Spa. It is a peaceful sanctuary amid tropical, Balinese-inspired gardens, complete with waterfall, heated plunge pool and sauna.
Our friends gave us a voucher for the Divine Discovery, and it was nothing short of divine! A 2 hour treatment consisted firstly of a turmeric body scrub, followed by a private warm rose bud bath. A full body Swedish Massage continues this deluxe couples treatment, followed by a refreshing fruit platter and a glass of chilled champagne! It was probably the most indulgent thing I’ve ever done! But it was the perfect way to end a trip to Byron Bay.
I don’t have many photos of our experience (for obvious reasons!), but I did snap one of Dan, enjoying the heated plunge pool, moments before our treatment.