Byron Bay Guide by luxury swimwear designer Leah Madden.
The carefree tranquility and beauty of Byron Bay is one that is hard to match. From the slowed-down pace that rebels against the 9-5 lifestyle to the creative energy pulsating through the quiet streets and coastline, Byron is the ultimate slice of Australian paradise tucked away for the dreamers and drifters.
Once the sleepy coastal town known best for its hippie lifestyle and secluded beach community, Byron is now the notable destination for a global trendsetting crowd thanks to its panoramic beaches, lush hideaways and vibrant restaurant scene. There’s no denying it’s magnetic appeal.
According to Leah Madden, long-time Byron Bay holiday-maker and designer of luxury heritage swim brand, White Sands, the raw sense of truth and beautiful diverse landscape was the inspiration behind her SS21 Collection, which is debuting at Australian Fashion Week next month as the label celebrates its 13th year dominating the swimwear industry. Free-spirited femininity imbued with 80’s nostalgia reflective of her family holidays spent barefoot and beachside, a tradition she’s upheld with her children today.
“Byron Bay to me will always be a special place. Growing up, I spent holidays there with my family back in the 80’s. Barefoot and beachside, some of my greatest memories were made. It’s a tradition I’ve maintained now, with my own children, we escape the grind and reconnect in Byron regularly. Cocktails by the pool, long lunches laughing and creating new memories that will last a lifetime. We are so lucky to live in such an awe-inspiring country with dreamlike destinations”.
Evoking a sense of localised wanderlust, here Leah shares her bookmark worthy travel guide for those seeking a long weekend escape to experience some of the magic.
The abundance of world celebrated chefs that call Byron Bay home is a sentiment to the culinary safari visitors can experience. Three Blue Ducks is a rustic favourite that serves up authentic paddock to plate dishes. For those seeking a luxurious beachfront setting, the dining room at Raes on Wategos is for you , serving the region’s best seafood with a curated drinks list to suit the relaxed destination.
Also on Leah’s must-visit edit is the architectural brilliance of Mez Club, which transcends you to the Greek Islands with a menu to match. You’ll embark on a journey around the Mediterranean Sea, from the noisy souks of Morocco, to the richness of the south of France, the fresh produce of Italy and the seafood of Spain.
While you’re now spoiled for choice when it comes to places to stay in Byron, Leah’s favourites will forever be: Atlantic at Byron, the boutique accommodation nestled amongst palm trees (perfect for a longer stay), the idyllic, exclusive retreat otherwise known as Raes on Wategos (you’ll need to book well in advance) and The Bower – because who doesn’t need to experience the award-winning magnesium swimming pool and effortless elegance.
Start your day with the iconic Cape Lighthouse walk, Australia’s most easterly point with views to match. It’s not only a great way to build up an appetite for breakfast, but you can stop for a swim along the way back and find your own piece of sandy paradise.
Byron Bikes is another great way to get around, especially if you want to have a cocktail with lunch, rent yourself two wheels and cruise your way to The Farm to play with animals and shop local foods.
Then to reconnect and reset, Gaia Retreat & Spa is the ultimate end to your weekend. Established as one of Australia’s most awarded boutique lifestyle wellness retreats, their day spa packages offer the ultimate indulgence from 1 hour specialist treatments to a half day of truly restorative healing. The choice is yours.
To get the most out of Byron, I recommend hiring a car. There is so much more to see within an hour’s drive – from the Hinterland towns to the restaurant dotted along the Tweed Coast, exploration is boundless. Another is to aim for early dinners to make the most of the scenery, and make reservations!! Outside of this, make sure you visit the local markets on a Saturday morning for a fresh breakfast of local produce and try to shop local. Byron has amazing sustainable, feminine fashions, ceramics and homewares; so ample room in your luggage to take your treasures home is also essential.