Byron Bay, NSW, travel guide and things to do: Nine must-do highlights


Forget dreadlocked hippies; the once snoozy surfside town of Byron Bay has been repopulated largely by creative entrepreneurs, haute-bohemians and the odd celebrity. Get a taste of the lives they lead by booking in at 28 Degrees, a luxurious seven-room house with plunge pools, claw-foot baths, organic linens, waving palms and interiors straight out of the pages of Architectural Digest.

It's just a few minutes' stroll from the beach and some of Byron's best boutiques and eateries, a chef is on hand to cook private dinners, and the owner's son, Jack Entwistle, a world professional longboarder, offers private surf lessons and luxury transfers. See


Riding a horse along the beach at sunset – sounds like a scene from a Darryl Braithwaite film clip, doesn't it? Make this fantasy a reality with Zephyr Horses, a coastal ranch that runs horse rides from the bush to the beach.

Book the early spot to watch the sun rise over the Pacific while you ride, and look out for whales and dolphins. See


These days you're more likely to find global fashion brands stocking the shelves of Byron boutiques than tie-dyed T-shirts and feathered earrings. Case in point is fashion label Nagnata, whose chic, sustainably-minded activewear is a favourite of Hollywood celebrities and It girls.

Visit their by-appointment showroom in the Arts and Industrial estate, surrounded by other designer boutiques. See


Fifty minutes' drive into the hinterland above Byron, Minyon Falls is where to head for the Rainbow Region's most luscious hike.

You'll take in views of the falls and the surrounding Whian Whian state forest, then hike down into the valley beneath soaring Bangalow palms, old Eucalypts and ancient figs. Take a dip in the natural pool at the waterfall's base, then head to Doma Cafe in the quaint town of Federal for an excellent Japanese lunch.


While you're in the hinterland, grab a glass of local wine or beer at the Byron shire's best pub, the Eltham Hotel. The interiors of this 100-year-old hotel have been sensitively upgraded without losing any of its original charm, as has the menu, which offers elevated pub classics.


Check their Instagram for upcoming gigs, and consider a stay in one of the five gorgeous guest rooms, each individually styled with repurposed vintage furniture and themed around fictional and non-fictional Byron women. See


Book a couple of months in advance to secure a table at Fleet. Chef Josh Lewis, one of Australia's brightest young food stars, creates hyper-local "kitchen pick" degustation dinners in the small but perfectly formed space in Brunswick Heads. See


Farmers markets are the nightclubs of the Byron region, the place to see and be seen. They run almost every day of the week in different towns (Bangalow on Saturdays and New Brighton on Tuesdays are two favourites) and most have live music. Make sure to pick up natural soaps and sauces from Church Farm General Store, and local oysters from Brunswick Seed Oysters. See


With its powdery white sand fringed by pandanus palms, Wategos is the spot for a surf, swim or sunbake. Leave time for a walk up to the iconic Cape Byron lighthouse, where you'll find the most easterly point in Australia, and for a drink at the cellar bar at Raes on Wategos, a stunning Slim Aarons-style hotel. See


Set in the Arts and Industrial estate, Comma offers bespoke holistic massages. The Sticks and Stones, which uses thermodynamic basalt stones to "realign the corporeal and celestial self", is unmissable. For extra pampering, book an infrared sauna at Nimbus & Co around the corner, or a yoga class at Creature Yoga. See


The Arakwal people are the traditional landowners in Byron Bay (Bundjalung country). Byron locals take special care to honour the Arakwal people, so try to do the same. An example of something to avoid is the popular hike up Mount Warning. Under Bundjalung law, only chosen people are allowed to climb it.

Nina Karnikowski was a guest of 28 Degrees.

See also: The best-kept travel secrets of New South Wales

See also: The nine things you must do in the Blue Mountains