I lay on a grassy knoll at Wategos Beach in a flowy skirt, head propped up on my backpack at an angle optimal for scoping out the surfers and setting sun in front of me, dozing off to the sweet croons of a guitarist nearby. Behind me, a street lined with converted campervans and hip kombis. Around me, other sun worshippers and the odd joint smoker (or five).
My last evening in Byron Bay was so stereotypically Byron, which is normally due cause for an eyeroll from me. But when the stereotype involves sun, sand, surf, and blissfully chilled out vibes, I can’t find a single thing wrong with it. Byron Bay is exactly what you’ve heard it’s like.
Byron Bay is an incredibly peaceful place. In all my travels, I’ve generally been able to find plenty of beautiful landscapes and sights to write home about (and yes, Byron’s certainly not short of these). But Byron Bay did something to me that most other places haven’t: it encouraged me to relax into my natural self.
I wasn’t fussed to see or do anything in particular here. I wanted to frolic on the beach and catch every sunset, sample coffee and brunches around town, maybe hop on a bike or try a yoga class. I took my time making my way through my *might be kinda sorta nice to do if I get around to it* list during my 5 days in Byron Bay.
Eating brunch at Folk.
And when my laptop cord randomly bit the dust, and my cell phone hit the expansive black hole of no reception where I was staying, I gave up any hope I had of getting work done with surprisingly little guilt. Instead I logged copious hours in the hammock, devouring almost 2 whole books in 5 days. I lingered to listen to performers on the street and African drummers on the beach at sunset. I melted into a comfortable vintage couch with a mug of mulled wine in hand, watching a local folk artist perform at the venue next door to my hotel.
The sad thing is, had it not been for those technical difficulties I likely would have rushed back to my room to the comforts (entrapments?) of my screens and missed out on all of those Byron experiences.
I tried to imagine basing myself in Byron Bay as a digital nomad: living within walking or biking distance from the beach, taking up surfing or paddleboarding, spending all my money on brunch and health food. I think I could be pretty content living here, at least short-term.
But I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing Byron Bay without the digital aspect which tends to haunt my every waking hour. I think maybe Byron is best enjoyed as a getaway destination: a place to unwind, unplug, and rejuvenate.