breakfast in byron bay - escaping the crowds!
In the three weeks I've been away, Byron has been transformed from a peaceful, sleepy oasis to a hippy culture paradise. It's like a magical beaming fairy-spirit switch has been flicked on: summer mode. There's suddenly lines of traffic and people everywhere, playing the electric guitar on rocks in the middle of the road, selling hand made jewellery on the streets, painting, drawing and singing all over the place. There's been an influx of extremely beautiful people (not that they weren't before - there were just less of them!) all wearing flowing bohemian dresses clinched in with vintage belts and linen playsuits. A lot of men sporting man-bun's, dreads and dungarees have appeared out of nowhere, and there's surfboards everywhere you look. Oh, and the sun's out!
It's lucky I've been here for winter and learned the secret short cuts, hidden parking spaces and scouted the best out of the way places to eat, shop, beach and go to yoga. If you're headed to Byron over the next few months, it's especially useful to know about the hidden places to avoid the queues and make the most of the beautiful town.
If you can, hire a car. The best places in Byron are a little way out of the main town, and it's worth it for all of the exploring you can do. Because of how hilly (and hot!) it is, it takes a long time to walk to places that are a 5 minute drive away.
Or you can hitchhike, which is a normal practice here - on my second trip we picked up a girl who hitchhiked three hours a day to work, because she couldn't afford to fix her car!
First up, the most important thing: breakfast (or 'brekkie', as true Aussie's call it). If you're new to Byron, you may think that the small town in the centre is all there is to it. I remember visiting on my Contiki tour two years ago and being shocked at how there were no out of this world amazing cafes in such an awesome place. It's because they are hidden from the tourists!
Breakfast is an institution in Australia, especially Byron. People here go to sleep early and wake up for sunrise, heading out for breakfast and a surf before work. Not to mention that the breakfasts are all ridiculously brilliant if you know where to go.
The Arts & Industry Estate in Byron is a creative melting pot of all different kinds of wonderful things. Acting schools, circus schools, fashion designers, yoga schools, a pie shop and my favourite vegetarian cafe, Folk. It's a little way out from the centre of Byron (a 10 minute drive, longer in traffic!) but it's definitely worth the trip.
Folk brings Byron dreams to life, with the perfect ‘minimalistic bohemian hippy in the forest drinking tumeric latte with edible flowers' vibes. It's located on the border of a camping site, where people live harmoniously in tents, teepees and caravans. You'd only find it if you knew where it was already, especially at the moment as the usual road is closed. Take the back route along Sunset Boulevard and keep watch for all of the quirky sights along the way.
My top picks for food are the granola, buckwheat pancakes and the burrito. A strong value of supporting the community and buying local, organic food resonates throughout Byron Bay which you can feel at Folk. The food is made with fresh ingredients and is excellent quality.
The drinks menu is one of the most eclectic I've seen - concoctions such as 'Matcha Mesquite Antioxidant Rich Brew' , 'House Brewed Vanilla Kefir' and smoothies all feature, arriving like a wrapped up present decorated with flowers and sitting upon a wooden block.
The decor is also intrinsically Byron Bay. Folk is almost entirely made out of wood, with vintage pottery pieces and hanging plants indoors giving it a rustic feel that attracts a variety of locals from families to yogis off duty. There is plenty of shade offered up by the palm trees and a there are collection of picnic blankets to feast on.
Combi is another of my all time ultimate favourites.
It has actually ruined Acai bowls for me now, because I can't imagine having one without it coming in a chic wooden bowl topped with generous scoops of peanut butter. It is my go-to for breakfast, feeding my acai bowl addiction one day at a time.
Although it's mainly known for the acai bowls of heaven, the rest of the menu is great too. Their avocado toast is my favourite in Byron, with the ratio of avocado/sourdough just right.
Combi also happens to be an instagrammer's dream with the pink tables, rose gold details, beautiful decorations and flowers bursting from every corner.
People watching is great here. Expect to see a lot of impatient boyfriends waiting to eat their food being photographed by their girlfriends.
Combi is more centrally located on Fletcher St, just be sure to get there early because it is super popular. Make sure to try a raw cake as they are unreal!
The Top Shop is another of my favourite hidden spots for breakfast. I really wanted to go here when I was on holiday, but it is located on top of a very large hill meaning a car is definitely advisable!
Sitting between the centre of Bryon and the lighthouse, the Top Shop provides amazing views and feels like you are in the middle of a tight-knit village, which you kind of are. There is a garden out the front where everyone lounges in the sunshine on blankets, chatting away to each other and enjoying their food.
It's a super friendly place, especially for families. There are games and chalk outside for kids to play with, and there is always a puppy or two hanging around! The Top Shop is probably the most community spirited place in Byron I've been to, which I think is the main appeal of it.
The food and coffee at the Top Shop is also exceptional, we often visit up to three times a day to grab a chai. The ingredients are all super fresh and locally sourced.
My favourites are the granola bowls, the porridge and the range of baked goods they have there. They have easy, healthy options like coconut yoghurt pots and chai puddings to grab and take away.
The Top Shop's decor reminds me of an old surf shack, with vintage signs and surf boards nailed to the wall.
Those are my top out of the way breakfast spots, but the beautiful thing about Byron is that new ones are forever popping up!