How to sum up living in Byron Bay? Byron Bay is a colourful place, with buskers filling the streets with music, boutique cafes, Mexican food, burgers bars, rainbow hippy shops, thrift stores and surf shops. It is not uncommon to see people doing their groceries or going about their day bare foot. There is a twilight market every Saturday and more scattered around town on different dates. Most people surf or at the very least are regulars to the beach and it is the perfect place to practice yoga and meditation. It’s chilled and built up and busy enough for there to be lots to do without feeling overcrowded or too touristy. We felt right at home straight away.
We had checked in to Wake Up hostel in a private room and it was lush. The hostel is right over the road from the beach, has free surfboard and bike hire, yoga lessons and is generally really pretty and clean. We could only afford to stay in our private room a week and then moved into dorms but even these were nice and the hostel is fairly chilled. There are definitely party vibes, especially on the pizza, free wine and cheese and BBQ nights but common areas close at 10pm meaning everyone is either out or in bed letting you get a good nights sleep, which is always a challenge in a hostel!
To begin with we struggled to make friends around the hostel, and the social atmosphere of being in hostels instead of the van had been what I was really looking forward to, but we quickly discovered most of the people we met were moving on while we were staying. So we had a few great nights out with people who were around for a few days but it wasn’t until some new hostel workers started and we met some other long term guests that we felt more like we had a group of friends here.
Day to day if we don’t have work we will laze on the beach (I finally have a tan so I can go home actually looking like I went somewhere hot!) or attempt to learn to surf. I try to go to yoga as often as I can and even enjoyed the local pool once. We like trying new places around town to eat; we loved the snapper burrito at Miss Margharitas, The Treehouse restaurant next door does amazing nachos and maybe the best calamari I’ve ever had and if you want burgers head to Main Street Burgers – their milkshakes are also amazing!
There are still a lot of Byron Bay activities we are yet to do as having opposite work schedules doesn’t make it easy to coordinate. We have checked out the lighthouse and hope to go back on a sunnier day to complete the walking trail that leads down to the beach. We also checked out Killan Falls, a beautiful waterfall just outside of the town. The water is cold and refreshing, with a nice area to swim after a short clamber over the rocks. There are a couple more waterfalls we want to check out, including Minyon Falls.
We’ve also taken two trips up the Gold Coast to Movie World and Wet ‘n’ Wild. The latter was Ashlie’s suggestion, we managed to cross paths with her again as she made her way down the coast and she messaged me to ask if we could go to Splash Park while we were there. I couldn’t find any mention of a Splash Park in Byron Bay or even up the coast, then she explained she heard about it on The Inbetweeners movie and I managed to connect the dots and find out they renamed Wet ‘n’ Wild for the film. We booked a pass that allowed us entry to four parks for less than the price of two entries and we could enter as many times as we wanted over the course of a year.
We met Ashlie at the park and had a great day floating down the lazy river, catching up on each other’s trips in the jacuzzi and screaming our heads off down the water slides. There was only one drop slide we chickened out off and one other we ran out of time to do but it made for a fun day out for sure.
The next day we drove up to Nimbin to check out this crazy little hippy town. It was raining most of the time so we had lunch and ducked in and out of shops selling rainbow clothes, crystals, books on tarot reading and witchcraft and of course plenty of marajuana paraphernalia. There were a couple of signs for hash cookies but whereas I remembered coming to visit and being offered cookies left right and centre it now seemed to be a lot more subtle. I was a little disapointed there wasn’t more to Nimbin, especially for the distance to get there from Nimbin but on a drizzly day it makes for an interesting thing to do.
We also made use of our pass to visit Movie World. I was super excited as I love rollercoasters but Joey… not so much. He is not a fan of heights or fast rides and unfortunately most of the rides were either big rollercoasters or small kiddies ones. I managed to convince him to join me on the Scooby Doo ride though, which was classed as a thrill ride but looked more family friendly on the posters so I figured would be perfect for the both of us.
It started out very serene with just a few bumps and very minor drops, then we went into a tunnel of screens and the whole track took us up to another level. I jokingly said, “what would you do if it suddenly dropped?” And Joey was like, “Don’t!”. We reached the next level and the cart started to move backwards, we figured it would swing round and start going straight again, then continue at the fairly sedate pace it had been at before but suddenly we speeded up, heading backwards and before we knew it the ground seemed to disappear for a moment and we were dropped backwards. I have never seen a funnier sight than the look of surprise and terror on Joey’s face! I couldn’t stop laughing and once he got over the initial shock, neither could he! The rest of the ride was a lot of fast twists and turns but nothing could beat that first backwards drop! It made our day.
We also checked out the very cheesey shows together but when it came to the DC Rivals Hypercoaster, the fastest and longest hypercoaster in the Southern Hemisphere I was on my own. I was scared while queueing but just tried not to think of it. I was terrified on the ride! But it was the most fun ever! My legs were like jelly afterwards from clenching them so much but wow it was exhilarating. I also went on Superman rollercoaster, which was just as exciting in terms of speed but this also meant it was over so quickly. Unfortunately three of the other big rides were closed for maintenance so we made note to come back another day to test them out too.
Other than our occasional side trips, nights out from the hostel and evenings listening to live music by main beach or hopping into town just for an ice cream fix, life ticked on in Byron Bay. We mostly enjoyed being at the hostel, especially for all the perks of living there but in the end we decided we had had enough of bunk beds, busy shared kitchens and people waking us up in the middle of the night and searched out a private room. We found an option in a share house with a German man, Tom who shared the house with his teenage son who visits on alternative weeks. The room was the cheapest we had seen to include an en suite, balcony and walk in closet – we were immediately excited for all the space we would have! We slept on the decision but felt good about the place straight away and signed up for it the next day. We’ve just enjoyed our last week at the hostel and check out today!
As we continue to explore Byron Bay and the surrounding area I’ll be able to share more tips and information. For now we are enjoying taking life slow with lazy beach days and saving some money through working again.