Getaway Guide | Byron Bay

12:06 AM Nina B 0 Comments

DO | Minyon Falls walk, Lighthouse Trail
SEE | Captain Cook Lookout, Byron Bay Lighthouse

I was looking for a spur of the moment little getaway destination. My criteria was simple: it had to be somewhere near the sea, close to hiking trails, with great food, and a relaxed atmosphere. Byron Bay came to mind and I realised I hadn't been there in about 10 years. Byron has changed a lot in the last few decades and I wondered if it’s not a bit over hyped these days. I often hear older generations say it's been ruined since the good ol' days. But I decided to give it a shot anyway and when we got there, despite how touristy it is, I still felt that chilled vibe and hints of its former hippie charm. And I could tell right away it's foodie heaven.

We went down for a two day break, arriving mid-morning, and the first thing we wanted to do was walk the Lighthouse Trail. I suggest starting from Watego Beach like we did, because you don’t have to pay for parking there - other car parks along the trail have pay and display parking available. The walk is easy, only a couple of hours (including quite a bit of time spent waiting for the perfect crashing-wave photos) and is very well signed. Along the way we spotted two different pods of dolphins which were beautiful! There are a few great look-outs, including the most easterly point of mainland Australia. I did enjoy staring out at the Pacific Ocean and thinking to myself “If I went directly East from here, the next land I’d hit is Chile.” The lighthouse itself has fantastic views, but the real treat was watching the hang-gliders launch from the nearby cliff, and hover like giant seagulls before slowly gliding down to the beach below. As you continue down the walk from the lighthouse, you pass the actual platform that the hang-gliders start from. I know hang-gliding isn't exactly extreme, but from someone with a slight fear of heights, those guys have some guts.

The walk is a loop, and heading back to Watego’s from the Lighthouse you follow a pleasant shady, sandy bush track downhill. The few beaches you pass at the end of the trail are all beautiful and a swim is well-deserved even if the walk isn't that strenuous. And even though the walk isn't that long or difficult I definitely recommend sunscreen, water, a hat etc. if you don't want to collapse in a sweaty sunburnt heap on Watego's by the end.

After our walk we stopped in at Top Shop to devour a fish burger and steak sandwich, and a couple of fresh cold pressed juices. Absolutely delicious! It has a lovely laid back atmosphere and great menu, and I'm glad it got recommended to us.

After a lazy afternoon involving champagne, we decided to go with another recommendation and decided on Miss Margarita for dinner. We had to wait a few minutes for a table, which was not a problem, and when we sat down we had a couple of margaritas (what else?) which came out quickly. Food was a little bit slow, but understandable as the place was packed, and the wait staff were pretty friendly. The food was super tasty. My chipotle chicken burrito was slightly dry, but was rescued by the fact it was served with guac and sour cream, and Tristan’s snapper naked burrito with pineapple and mango was delicious. Big portion sizes, too! After our late lunch and sushi entree, we struggled to finish it.

The next morning we started the day right with a visit to Bayleaf CafĂ©. It was hands down the best breakfast we’ve had in ages. I had the dukkah poached eggs with heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, sourdough, greens, a drizzle of honey, and chardonnay vinegar. Tristan had a slow cooked wagyu tail, with a delicious sauce, sourdough, two fried eggs, mushrooms and radish. My mouth is watering just thinking about it now. Our juices and coffees were spot on too, and the cafe has a great relaxed vibe. We sat directly in front of the kitchen's pass, so we watched every meal get put together, and the teamwork and calm atmosphere of the kitchen was so great to watch. And seeing everyone's meal made me want to order everything on the menu of course.

After breakfast we took a quick stop at the Captain Cook Lookout which we’d skipped the day before on the Lighthouse Trail. It’s a rocky outcrop just off the beach with a lookout on top, and from there we spotted a few types of pretty sea birds, and a turtle close to the rocks. I'm sure you could do some good whale spotting from here too.

We then headed inland for about 45 minutes to Nightcap National Park and decided to do the Minyon Falls walk. We chose the longer trail which starts right at the top of the gorgeous Minyon Falls, where there is an amazing lookout that juts out over a sheer drop to the gorge below. There’s a comforting sign that reads “DANGER: 100 metre fall over cliff”. Beginning the walk, you wind your way along the sunny clifftop for a while, and then begin a zigzagging decent into the lush palm-laden rain forest below. Moss covered fallen trees and boulders line the walk, and it’s a welcome escape from the heat of the ridge above. After crossing the creek of the waterfall itself, there is a short section where you clamber over boulders and up to the waterfall and its pool, which is perfect for swimming. There's a loop walk that leads to a separate car park, but we decided to go back the way we'd come to avoid walking back along the road to our car. The ascent back up was definitely a leg workout to say the least! We were lucky to have a cool breeze on our way back, because it was hot. I couldn't resist a sneaky look over the edge of the falls on our way back. Did I mention my fear of heights? 

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