Byron Bay, Australia: Bohemian Paradise

Bare feet, long flowing skirts and organic cafes are all in abundance in Byron Bay. This pristine gem on Australia’s east coast is home to a thriving hippy community. Yogis, surfers, pagans and backpackers alike flock here. So, what attracts all of these happy hippies to Byron Bay?

Well, it is stunningly beautiful for one. Its golden beaches stretch out for miles, surrounded by striking cliffs and lush rainforest.

Byron Bay is also considered to be an important spiritual spot.

The Arakwal people have inhabited the area for thousands of years and their aboriginal culture is closely linked to the land and sea. The aboriginal name for Byron Bay is ‘Cavanbah’, which means ‘meeting place’. It seems that this ancient name really fits the bill – even today.

Music lovers, writers and film buffs descend on the creative coastal town for various events throughout the year.

A popular one is the East Coast Blues and Roots Music Festival in April. Another staple on the calendar is the Byron Underwater Festival. This takes place at marine sanctuary Julian Rocks and features all sorts of action, such as an underwater film festival, underwater photography workshops, scuba-diving and snorkel tours. There is even a chance to go kayaking with dolphins.

I have fond memories of my time in Byron Bay. It is a magical and unique place.

I remember walking barefoot along the sand and feeling really content. It was late afternoon and the beach was beginning to empty out. The waves softly tickled my feet and numerous multi-coloured kites could be seen in the distance. It was one of those moments I will never forget; a moment where I completely paused to fully appreciate the peaceful surroundings. Circus performers were a regular sight on Byron’s beaches. Dreadlocked bohemians could be seen practicing tricks such as fire breathing and juggling.

There are several beaches in Byron Bay, many of which are popular with surfers. One thing I regret is not learning to surf here. There were always people offering surfing lessons for a ridiculously cheap price. I did not actually have my first surfing lesson until this year, in the freezing cold waters of Newquay, England.

For great sea views and the possibility of spotting some whales and dolphins, take a picturesque hike up to Cape Byron Lighthouse.

I was there at the wrong time of the year and did not see a ‘fin’. But the views alone were amazing. The lighthouse is located around 3km from Byron Bay town centre.

Because much of the area around Byron Bay consists of dense rainforest, there are signs around town warning of brown snakes. When I was walking around at night, I certainly watched where I was stepping.

Luckily, there were no encounters with brown snakes. There was, however, a huge green snake outside my hostel room one morning.

There were also lots of spiders. During the trek up to the lighthouse, I used a public loo located in a wooden hut. My friend told me at a compromised moment not to look up. Of course, I had to look up.

The whole ceiling was covered in meaty tarantula-type spiders. Hundreds of them. I am not usually scared of spiders, but I was terrified on this occasion.

I left Byron Bay with Bob Marley’s ‘Jamming’ fixated in my brain. In fact, I even purchased Bob Marley’s greatest his on my return home. I guess Byron Bay must have rubbed off on me a bit.

Have you been to Byron Bay? What were your highlights?