After being in Australia nearly a month I finally made it to a real beach last weekend- the one and only Byron Bay! And although the photos suggest otherwise, it was actually a beautiful weekend to be lounging by the beach and enjoying the ocean!
Once again I went with QUEST (UQ’s study abroad social club) on this adventure, meaning I was in the lovely company of 250 other international students all weekend long. We arrived early on Friday afternoon and had nearly the entire rest of the day to enjoy the beach and explore as we pleased until we met again for dinner.
Byron Bay is a quaint little beach town, full of tourists and local hippies with a variety of restaurants, shops and boutiques scattered along the main street. It has a relaxed, free-spirited vibe, that just beckons you to grab some gelato and your sunnies and leave behind the cares of the real world for a swim in the cool ocean waves.
The beach was gorgeous, extending out from the parking lot on two sides and continuing on far past the eye could see in either direction. On the left side of the beach, it was dog friendly so tons of cute canines were running about, playing in the sand and happily greeting anyone who walked by and wanted to pet them (which was always me). One of the coolest parts of the beach though was the presence of an almost second beach, about 50 feet off the shore. After wading through the water a bit past your knees, it suddenly would get increasingly more shallow until you were once again standing on solid sand in the middle of sea. Unlike at Wellington Point though, this sand bar wasn’t leading anywhere, it just ran parallel to the entire length of the beach which was quite neat. It allowed you to venture farther out into the ocean without any of the risk of being in too deep of water. It also made it great for getting closer pictures!
After awhile at the beach we all met up again for a huge barbecue dinner accompanied with live music to get us excited for the night ahead at Cheeky Monkeys where there would be a massive paint party.
At first, I was a bit unsure of whether I would attend the paint party because 1) I dislike crowds 2) I dislike being in really loud places and 3) I hate feeling trapped, which is something I would generally feel in a small bar packed with over 400 people, thanks to my anxiety. However, in a last minute decision I decided I would go for a bit to see how I liked it (because I could leave at any time), and I’m so glad that I did because it ended up being a blast! The music was great, and they had large steel picnic-like tables that were used as dance stages throughout the bar. Ironically, it was dancing on tables where I felt most safe because I was above the crowds and felt like I had my own space. And luckily I arrived before the big crowds which meant I was one of the first to be painted by the girls working the bar, before the long lines hit. I also ran into my friend Saige, who I met my first week in Brisbane, which was such a crazy coincidence as she’s just backpacking through Australia on her own! Overall, the night exceeded my expectations and by the time I went to bed I was feeling elated from the day and quite proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone for a bit!
Day two in Byron was a bit more adventurous. I started the day by grabbing some lunch at Bayger (more than just a burger) and a smoothie before heading off with some friends to go sea kayaking for a few hours. I’ve been kayaking several times and I think I fall more in love with it every time I go. This time I was partnered with my friend Millie who happened to be a competitive soul like me, so we always managed to work our way up to the front of the pack ;). Although we didn’t see any dolphins, we did see a massive loggerhead sea turtle which was very cool. The best part though was coming back in through the surf, and we managed to be one of the few that didn’t capsize the boat on our way in, which was even better.
After kayaking was over we met up again with the others for a huge pizza dinner with live music and this time a few games of pool. After hanging out for a few hours we all then went to Woody’s, another club nearby, for more dancing. I didn’t like Woody’s quite as much as I enjoyed Cheeky Monkeys, so I only stayed for a bit before heading out to get some dessert and explore the nearby shops with my friend Jordan. We ended up getting a delicious Italian dessert at a restaurant we were far too underdressed to be in, but we were seated on a counter next to an open window with great views of the strip, so the experience was unbeatable.
It was then that I realized how exhausted I was from kayaking all day and so I retreated back to the hostel for some much needed sleep.
Sunday morning we finally checked out, and just before leaving I went to the beach and captured the stormy skies just before the tropical rain set in. Luckily we left before the worst of it hit, but I promise, the sky was much clearer the rest of the trip!
I would definitely go back to Byron Bay again as it was the perfect town to getaway for a weekend! And I highly recommend it to anyone who’s traveling to Brisbane!
P.S. If you’d like to see firsthand what all this looked like, check out my new vlogging channel SimplyAshVlogs here! I currently have my Day 1 Byron Bay vlog up, and I’ll be posting regularly throughout my trip! 🙂