Ten reasons to visit Byron Bay and surrounds

Sweet potato flatbread, cauliflower puree, roast cherry tomatoes, beetroot, carrot and sauteed kale at Bayleaf.
Sweet potato flatbread, cauliflower puree, roast cherry tomatoes, beetroot, carrot and sauteed kale at Bayleaf. Photo: Supplied

Never has Byron Bay been as divided in spirit as it is now.

There's Almost Extinct Byron (the fishing town with its lighthouse, surf and farmland where hippies came in their droves); there's Old Byron (the epicentre for those seeking higher meaning); and there's Byron Now, where the influx of celebrities has led the way for luxury boutiques, hotels and a whole new level of dining.

This guide covers Byron Now, with a few old faves thrown in.

1. Drink nude

Co-owners Pete Windrim (Krinklewood winery, Hunter Valley) and Andy Love (Shelter, Lennox Head) call Supernatural Cellars "a little slice of Paris by the beach". Food is designed to be eaten cutlery-free and the wine is all on the natural, crunchy side – about as organic and biodynamic as the people drinking there. supernaturalcellars.com.au

Supplied – Thu, 3. October 2019 3:37 PMTunaCrudo_RaesDiningRoom.jpgTuna crudo, mullet baccala, cucumber, lemon myrtle, greens at Raes on Wategos, Byron Bay.
Supplied photo for Good Food Magazine (Nov 2019) Byron Bay travel story.

Tuna crudo, mullet baccala, cucumber, lemon myrtle, greens at Raes on Wategos, Byron Bay. Photo: Supplied

2. Surf with your eyes

Wategos beach + Lucy Folk linens + Italian food + roaming brush turkeys and the occasional whale = the missing link when it comes to fine dining in the area. Jason Saxby (ex-Pilu at Freshwater) is on the pans here at Raes, cooking his version of breezy Italian food using local produce. Fregola caught in a spicy shellfish and tomato broth is a highlight, as is that incredible view. raes.com.au

Jicama and yuzu at Fleet, Brunswick Heads.
Supplied photo for Good Food Magazine (Nov 2019) Byron Bay travel story.

Jicama and yuzu at Fleet, Brunswick Heads. Photo: Supplied

3. Eat barefoot at a two-hat restaurant

Blessed is the diner who scores one of Fleet's 14 seats. The skinny room in sleepy Brunswick Heads is stripped to its most minimal: a long communal table, a window bench with bar stools, shelves laden with wine and plants, and an exposed rear galley kitchen. But in modest surrounds comes greatness. fleet-restaurant.com.au

4. Go hoof-free

The Good Food Guide's Regional Restaurant of the Year in the sleepy town of Pottsville delivers coastal cuisine with a very tight brief. Pipit's focus is on sustainable seafood and local plants with no beef or lamb. Chef Ben Devlin's cooking shows a strong sense of place and identity from the grilled bay lobster to corned moonfish. pipitrestaurant.com

La Casita, Brunswick Heads.
Supplied photo for Good Food Magazine (Nov 2019) Byron Bay travel story.

Try a 'life-changing oyster ceviche' at La Casita, Brunswick Heads. Photo: Supplied

5. Bathe in a festival of limes

Prepare to worship at the altar of the All Powerful Lime. The citrus fruit is used on nearly every dish at Brunswick Heads Mexican restaurant La Casita, from the team at Fleet. The menu mostly derives from the grill with a side of frozen margaritas (more lime!) and what the Good Food Guide refers to as "a life-changing oyster ceviche". lacasita.com.au

6. Avoid the crowds

When Byron latches on to "a thing", it latches on tight. And this year it's Mexican food. Suffolk Park's Chupacabra celebrates the joy of a good cantina with icy Tecate beers, tacos al pastor and a very breezy attitude. Chupacabra is a freshie from the Harvest Newrybar crew and the perfect place to take in the last of the sun after a day in the waves. chupacabra.com.au

7. Embrace the crowds

Bayleaf is a Byron favourite for its come-as-you-were-the-night-before attitude. They use Bread Social (baked-good darlings of the Northern Rivers) and Avocado Tom (the Rolls Royce of those mortgage-ruining fruits) for their avo toast and local beans for their (very good) coffee. Getting a table is quite a navigation but the payoff is worth it. bayleafbyronbay.com

52 Best Brunches - Three Blue Ducks restaurant, cafe and produce store, The Farm Byron Bay. 
Photograph by Paul Harris (photographer on contract, no restrictions)

Three Blue Ducks restaurant, cafe and produce store, The Farm. Photo: Paul Harris

8. Take a cow selfie and join a cult

The Three Blue Ducks at the Farm is definitely a cult of lifestyle. It's a cafe, a farm where you can take a selfie with photogenic animals, a store and a restaurant, complete with free-ranging hens. Mark LaBrooy and Darren Robertson's smart, sharp cooking style was born for this backdrop. threeblueducks.com/byron

9. Drink a beer and catch a gig

There are few places in Australia that stack up to the Great Northern when it comes to chilly schooners and live music. There's a rotating roster of local and international acts out the back or you can just soak up the atmosphere in the front bar. thenorthern.com.au/line-up

10. Aspirational shopping and a cooked chook

The Habitat Collective offers you more felt hats and loose linen than you can point a rainstick at but afterwards Barrio provides the perfect place to recuperate with Argentinian chef Francisco Smoje cooking up quesadillas and barbecue chook over charcoal. barriobyronbay.com.au