Australia’s Best Surf Spots' Eats
Where to find the best surf, sun, sand, and snacks in Australia
Though it might not have the best point breaks in the region, Byron Bay draws crowds to its expansive shores for more than just waves. In this bohemian enclave in northern New South Wales, painted vans, dreadlocks, handmade clothing, hemp, and beaded jewelry share real estate with barefoot hippies that spontaneously collect in drum circles and participate in hacky sackshowdowns. In Byron, live music erupts on a whim and a relaxed feeling permeates the air. Here, residents live by a pretty simple credo: Life is good.
Main Beach is where beginners flock to balance on their red and blue boards. If you want to learn from one of the greats, Rusty Miller Surf is your nirvana. Miller, 1965’s USA surfing champion and one of the area’s best known instructors, set up shop in Byron Bay in the 1970s. If you’re looking to witness some of Byron Bay’s action, adept boarders can usually be found waiting for the right break at The Pass, while long-boarders prefer Wategos Beach, which is protected from the big swells. Cruising the area surrounding Wategos Beach paints a different picture than seen in town — gorgeous (and expensive) residential homes are in abundance. Curious about the art of making surfboards? At Byron Bay Arts and Industry Estate,a hodgepodge of craft workshops, you can watch board-shapers hard at work on fin and tail designs of all shapes and sizes. Make sure to look for work by the area’s most beloved board artist, Ed Sinnott.
Byron is a chill place, so it follows that the food scene is equally laid-back. Tiny Thai food shops, burrito bars, and takeaway kiosks dot the center of town, but if you’re looking for something more substantial with killer views, make your way to the unfussy Byron Beach Café, which is always full of hungry folks craving sunrise breakfasts or sunset dinners. The Pass Café on the Cape Byron Walking Track is another standby spot for grub if you’re of the land-based sporting variety, while The Beach Hotel, with its beer garden, leafy salads, burgers, and daily curries, will take you from cocktail hour through sunset. When you’ve tired of the music and community in town, hit the hay at swanky tropical eco-paradise Byron at Byron or book into one of Tallow’s funky beach houses. (Photo courtesy of Marie Elena Martinez)
The Gold Coast
In Queensland, The Gold Coast is an area full of beach highlights with one suburb aptly called Surfers Paradise. Miles of uninterrupted sand host a gorgeous rotation of Aussie babes and the surfers that love them. The vibe in "Surfers" is laid-back and friendly, and whether you’re cruising down one of Main Beach’s boutique and café-lined streets, or drifting out to sea waiting for a rip curl, you’re bound to be enjoying yourself. To drink in the view of this spectacular coast, head to the top of Q1, the tallest building in Australia and the second-tallest residential building in the world. If you’re enamored, you can even book a room for the night. Feeling a little fancier? The Gold Coast is where Donatella Versace built her first hotel, Palazzo Versace, an exercise in excessive marble and gold. (Photo courtesy of Marie Elena Martinez)
When it’s time for some eats, locals swear by Peter’s Fish Market in Main Beach. Here, fresh catch is made to order, so if you’re craving some fish and chips (for a mere $9), this is your ultimate spot. Because of its large Asian population, The Gold Coast is all about amazing Thai food. Small joints tucked down Main Beach’s many side streets send delicious aromas onto the breeze, and if you’re wondering which spot is serving the best daily specials, just look for the longest line. Across the board, however, locals recommend Chiang Mai Thai.
Another great Gold Coast perk? The area’s beach clubs give free access to visitors. With its pretty views and seafood specials, Currumbin Beach Vikings Surf Club is worth checking out. Try the Rock Seafood Platter, which includes prawns, oysters, and "bugs," (aka crabs). For more upscale dining, head over to Tedder Avenue in Main Beach, Australia’s version of Rodeo Drive. Duck into Shuck for oysters or Blu Grotto for anything from tapas to pizza to stuffed rack of lamb. Then, tuck in for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow’s waves beckon.
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