Ballina and Byron Bay
A one-of-a-kind destination, Byron Bay seamlessly blends urban influences with colourful individuality and a relaxed coastal vibe. This flavour radiates throughout all aspects of the town and is particularly evident within the local dining scene.
Byron’s three world-famous pubs, The Beach Hotel, The Great Northern and The Rails, all serve great pub fare amid performances by inspired musical acts... No visit to Byron Bay is complete without tucking into a meal at The Beach Hotel, overlooking one of Australia’s most famous beaches. Another long-standing Byron favourite is The Buddha Bar & Restaurant in the Old Piggery Building, where generous internationally-inspired fare is complemented by local brews.
Byron Bay's cafes also add to the town’s casual dining experience. A popular spot amongst locals and tourists alike, The Byron Beach Café on Clarkes Beach shows off long reaching coastline views, while serving quick and affordable food and drinks. Downtown cafes, such as Twisted Sista and the Green Garage are also favourites, with organic coffee blends and healthy dishes.
A plate of fish and chips isn’t just a meal in Byron Bay, it’s a favourite pastime. Almost hidden from sight, in the alley behind The Beach Hotel, Fish Mongers is a local’s favourite, frying (and grilling) up fish and chips with a gourmet appeal. Fish Heads, in the Main Beach car park, is also a local institution. Once an old fish and chip shop at the local pool, Fish Heads has grown to become a stylish restaurant with a diverse menu.
Seafood is a speciality in Byron, and no one does it better than Rae’s on Watego’s. Voted one of the world’s top 25 hotels by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine, Rae’s on Watego’s provides one of Byron Bay’s best fine-dining experiences, with an extravagant blend of Australian ingredients and fresh seafood.
Traditional Italian wood fired pizzas, spicy Thai and Mexican, tapas, Japanese and Modern Australian – international cuisines are abundant in Byron Bay, reflecting the town’s history of travellers. Take a stroll along Johnson Street for an inspiring and mouth-watering experience. Highlighting the local food culture at its best, The Farmers’ Market – held every Thursday morning – showcases specialities like Bangalow farm cheeses, pecan nuts from the Nimbin Valley, Dunoon macadamias, Tweed Valley beef, and fresh Brunswick River whiting and prawns.
Between the town centre and the Arts and Industrial Park, Byron Bay has a diverse variety of retail opportunities with something to appeal to every shopper’s taste.
Reflecting the town’s ideals and sub-sects, Byron Bay has grown from a surfing paradise, to become a Mecca for surf apparel. Jam-packed with clothing and equipment, Bay Action has long been the store of choice for surfers in the Byron area. Across the road, S-Cape Byron also thrives – stocking local, Australian and international surf and skate brands. Born and bred in town, Maddog is Byron’s most iconic surf brand – the place to go for surfboards and surf accessories. Over the past decade major surf retailers such as Billabong, Rip Curl and Quicksilver have also set up shop in the Bay, helping the surfing industry dominate the region’s retail trade.
Byron Bay has also grown leaps and bounds as a destination for the fashion-forward. A number of trendy local boutiques experience great traffic and national attention. Pompidou, on Lawson Street, is a chic space filled with beautiful, on-trend local and international pieces. Next door, Studio Lavish takes a more holistic approach, stocking everything from furniture and fashion, to beauty products and giftware from celebrated brands. While down the road, Mesh focuses a little more on the underdog, stocking quality basics and denim ranges from unique local labels.
Moving just outside the downtown area, located off Ewingsdale Road, The Byron Bay Arts and Industry Park is a hotchpotch of retail outlets, workshops, studios and exhibition spaces. Artisans, craftspeople and manufacturers from all over the world have set up shop in the park to sell everything from clothing to crafts, bedding to bicycles, art works to antiques, garden furniture to interior designs, and surfboards to pet supplies. The Byron Bay Arts and Industry Park is well worth a half-day trip to source a bargain or a unique handcrafted item.
Covering a few acres on the Butler Street reserve, The Byron Bay Craft and Produce Market is one of the best in the region. Held on the first Sunday of every month the market presents a huge array of handcrafted wares, locally-grown produce and inspired artworks. The orderly rows are vibrant and lively, featuring performers, dancers, singers and musicians in between the food and retail stalls.