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In Australia, one of the best venues for an unforgettable vacation is Byron Bay in New South Wales. The coastal stunner, with its smart boutique shops and farm-to-table joints, is a stylish-yet-tranquil destination that’s ideal for experiences that befit foodies, surf nuts and hipsters both young and old.
Here are four of the best ways to experience the destination.
Go SurfingGet up early, grab a wetsuit and catch some waves. Byron Bay has some of Australia’s best surfing breaks, and if U.S. visitors choose to visit in the spring (what would be fall in Australia), cooler weather typically delivers some big, consistent swells. Spots that are surf-nut-approved include The Wreck, with advanced- and experienced-level breaks caused by a shipwreck; Clarke’s Beach, with waves that provide excellent surf conditions practically all year; the secluded Cosy Corner in the Arakwal National Park; and Belongil Beach.
New to surfing? Make a beeline for Main Beach instead, where surf schools abound and smaller, gentler waves welcome novice surfers.
Hit the BeachByron Bay’s coastal waters are warm enough for comfortable swimming. This town is a top beach destination, and it boasts the most irresistible sandy shorelines with white sand and pristine waters.
Prime seaside spots include the popular Main Beach; Wategos Beach and its gentle waves; or the more secluded Tallow Beach, which draws swimmers, surfers and recreational fishermen. If the weather is a tad too chilly for swimming, carve out time to trace the 30-minute coastal walk from Main Beach to Wategos instead.
Shop at Bangalow MarketOnly a hop, skip and a jump inland from the coast, Bangalow Market offers plenty of artisanal shopping and cultural-immersion opportunities. Relax with a languid pace, rub elbows with the locals and bring some Australian-made products home with you.
The monthly market — which takes place under a canopy of trees from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of every month — is a perfect way to spend a day. Bring cash and take your time; the hundreds of stalls that make up the market tout handicrafts, jewelry, art, ceramics, baked goods and even liquor.
Walk to the LighthouseByron Bay’s colonial-style Cape Byron Lighthouse is an icon, set atop Australia’s easternmost point. It may be a magnet for tourists, but it’s also an attraction that cannot be missed when you’re in town. It a wildly beautiful sight, and it also offers unrivalled views of the coast. Visit just before dawn, so you can enjoy the panorama tricked out with the colors of the sunrise.
Duck out of driving to the top and take the lighthouse walk instead. It’s not the easiest, but it’s one of the most rewarding.