When you drive into Byron Bay there is a welcome sign, saying, “cheer up, slow down, chill out,”. That pretty much sums up my Byron experience.
From the day I moved to Sydney, going for a long weekend trip to Byron Bay was on top of my travel-list. I had heard endless stories about the region’s bountiful organic produce, health conscious culture, long beaches and laid-back vibes; I was convinced before I even got there. Plus the weather is picture-perfect almost all year round, what’s not to love? It’s also just a short 1 1/2 – hour flight away from Sydney, making it the perfect quick city escape.
Part of what makes Byron Bay so wholesome and grounding is the food. This beach town is home to some of the world’s most passionate and sustainable foodies, meaning you won’t be short of healthy cafés and restaurants to check out. In fact, in the five days that I was there, I barely got through all the places I wanted to dine at (unless I was up for having 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, a post-lunch raw treat, an arvo smoothie, a pre-dinner snack, a 2-course dinner followed by another vegan dessert…). Whether you’re looking for organic food cafes, super foods, gluten free delights, raw food treats, gut healing concoctions or slow cooked creations, – Byron Bay has it all!
Below is a list of my favorite healthy hotspots as well as some recommendations on what to do while you are visiting. But without further ado, get your Instagram camera ready, because foodie shots have never looked this divine!
Combi was the first place we went to right after we arrived in Byron – we didn’t even go to our Airbnb but went straight there because we were starving. Good thing they have the most delicious acai bowl, avo on toast and also nourishing smoothies to fill you up. Plus good coffee, win. For something sweet, don’t forget to check out the incredibly insta-worthy raw bar filled to the brim with delicious treats like raw caramel slices, raw matcha cakes or an indulgent raw tiramisu. P.S. they have one in Melbourne too if you’re ever in that corner.
When it comes to sustainable food, the team at ‘The Farm’ truly walk the talk. So what is it? The Farm is, well, just that, an 80-acre farm just a stone’s throw from Byron Bay with a paddock to plate’ philosophy – restaurant/café attached to it. The menu is based on the food sourced from The Farm’s own 100% spray and chemical free farm as well as well as some of the best producs in the region – with a focus on community and collaboration. The aim is to teach people about sustainability and to get them thinking about where their food comes from – something this world definitely needs more of! Imagine this: after devouring a mango chia parfait topped with fresh mint picked right in front of your eyes and sipping on coffee while you watch kids playing in the grass, you head to the produce section and pick up fresh food for your dinner tonight – eggs from the hens that you see running around and fresh veggies from the soil that you are surrounded by. Doesn’t that sound dreamy?
This. Is. Foodie. Heaven. As you walk through the door and turn to your right, you will discover the longest list of organic smoothies available to man kind. As you turn to your left, all your heart’s desires are fulfilled as you discover a fridge filled with mouthwatering raw vegan desserts + juices and smoothies. The focus at Naked Treaties is on raw foods, but they do sell a range of hot drinks (organic hot chocolates, matcha lattes etc.) Their lunch menu includes dishes like raw pizza, raw falafel wraps, raw zucchini spaghetti bolognese and green veggie bowls. I had the activated buckwheat savoury crepe with lots of veggies + a hormone balancing elixir shot with a kombucha chaser. We do an epic sweet version of the crêpe too! Oh, and did I mention they are committed to being 100% organic?
From surfie to hippy to tourists with camera, this corner-café appeals to all of the distinct town’s walks of life. You’ll need to get out of the heart of the city’s centre to find this gem at the top of a hill. Originally a corner store and milkbar, this eatery is now best known for it’s good coffee, burgers made with free-range, grass-fed meat and organic eggs, as well as their bread and pastries that are all homemade. I didn’t get around to trying the burgers, but apparently the haloumi burger is pretty rad. My tip: pick a gorgeous day, come with your journal or podcast, grab a coffee and sit in the sun and relax a little.
65 Carlyle St, Byron Bay NSW 2481 / Facebook: www.facebook.com/TopShopByronBay / Instagram: www.instagram.com/explore/locations/218974717/top-shop-byron-bay/
Bayleaf first attracted me because of how the café looked – warm and welcoming. The interior has solid timber tables, exposed brick andn an open view kitchen. There’s lots of sitting options both outside and inside, and as the café is north-facing it’s the perfect spot for a moring brunch. The menu at Bayleaf Café is the same across breakfast and lunch, something which I personally love. Perfect for a lazy weekend brunch! And yes, you guessed it, produce is locally sourced and organic whenever possible (see why I love Byron so much?). Try the Dukkah Poached Eggs – organic sourdough topped with heirloom tomatoes, marjoram and buffalo mozarella that’s dressed with chardonnay vinegar and lavender infused honey served with two poached eggs and a lots of dukkah. Coupled with house-roasted Marvel Street coffee or an iced matcha latte, this certainly will get you fueled for the day. I also had a taster of the Portuguese chicken and it was pretty epic.
The Roadhouse is another local’s favorite – expect to see lots of people barefoot, catching up with friends over coffee or grabbing a quick bite before work. Their produce is sourced locally, the special’s board is always changing and they opt for organic produce wherever possible. They also serve a bunch of different cold-pressed juices, healing elixirs and turmeric lattes etc. Even better – they’ll get your gut bacteria humming with fermented foods and the promise of no refined sugar (desserts included). They also have you covered for all your gluten-free needs, .e. a slice of roast pumpkin instead of your usual piece of highly processed GF bread. They stock a variety of cold-pressed juices, digestive tonics, healing elixirs and the infamous golden milk. They also understand the importance of fermented foods (think sauerkraut and sprouted bread) and are adamant that none of their dishes use refined sugar (desserts included). Gluten Free? They have got you covered – a slice of roast pumpkin replaces any refined piece of GF bread. Not to mention that there is herb garden. What’s not to love?
What else to do in Byron…
Surf, surf, surf – I have to admit, I had heard horror stories of sharks around Byron so at first I thought there was no way in hell that I was going surfing. But as soon as we arrived and saw how many locals, tourists and children were out in the water surfing, all that fear went away. We’d rent surf boards (no need for wet suits as the water is nice and warm here even in winter) from Soul Surf school, then walk along Main Beach to The Pass which is in the direction of the lightouse. They have this awesome large wooden structure there called the Fisherman’s Lookout, with a platform at the top from which you can admire the beautiful view and check out the crowd in the water. It’s honestly the perfect spot to observe other surfers’ and learn a thing or two from them.
Walking/running – For a walking/running route, go from Clarkes Beach to the lighthouse. At sunrise, of course! We didn’t have very great weather when we visited, so we just watched the sunrise at the Main Beach, but I heard it’s incredibly rewarding to trek up to the Lighthouse to see the sunrise there.
Minyon Falls – this is another thing that was highly recommend to me, but we couldn’t go because the weather wasn’t on our side. If you have more luck, head out along the bush track past Broken Head and walk down one of the tracks to an isolated beach. You can find maps and local information here.