Nate Storey
July 01, 2014

Photographer Ben Watts trains his lens on Australia’s hippest beach colony.

Two hours outside Brisbane, Byron Bay is a long way to travel—its remoteness edits who comes here. The hippie-chic spirit is similar to other bohemian outposts: Bali, Ibiza, Montauk. One of my favorite things is the diverse mix of people—everyone from artists to backpackers to celebrities.

I love waking up to the sun and heading to Top Shop café (61-2/6685-6495). It’s a social stronghold, with locals relaxing on the grass, sipping coffee from china cups. Bayleaf Café (61-2/6685-8900) is a popular option in town. That’s where you get a genuine sense of Byron Bay’s flavor: colorfully dressed women selling coconuts from carts, imaginative stores like Ahoy Trader, which showcases art and surf wear, and Deus Ex Machina, the spot for custom boards.

But the beaches are the real draw. Suffolk is so expansive you can walk for hours and not see anyone. Wategos is more sceney, with guys hanging out in muscle cars looking to get noticed. One year I saw Richard Branson surfing; this go-round it was my four-year-old daughter out on the waves. Cape Byron is the easternmost point on the mainland, and when you get up to the lighthouse, the magnitude of the countryside and coastline becomes real: you can see for miles and miles and miles. —As told to Nate Storey

Related Links:
World's Coolest Surf Towns
Australia's Best Beaches
World's Best Islands

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

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