Everyone loves a little sunshine and salty air, but some places make you feel like you’re coming home: towns where you feel like you fit in, villages you don’t want to leave, and areas you know in your heart you’ll come back to.
If boho vibes are your thing, then Byron Bay has set the benchmark for bohemian living with its laidback lifestyle, natural beauty, and inclusive community. However, it’s not the only beach destination in the state with a boho feel – you’re likely to find your tribe in these five spots, too.
Brunswick Heads might be close to Byron Bay, but it couldn’t be more different from its busier coastal cousin. This riverside haven is big on personality with a penchant for retro vibes. The town sits at the mouth of the Brunswick River, and the crystal-blue Simpsons Creek separates the village from the beach.
There’s a handful of refurbished motels with a throwback feel like The Sails Motel and The Brunswick, fantastic vintage threads at Fabulous Mrs Fox, and retro homewares at Resould, and each winter, the town hosts the second-hand Old and Gold Festival (returning in 2022 with a bang).
At night, restaurants such as the 12-seat Fleet serve the best of local produce, while the old Brunswick Picture House, which reopened in 2016, has live performances and cabaret. You’ll run into plenty of boho locals at the weekly farmers market and monthly Brunswick Heads Market or sit around in hip eateries such as Honour Espresso (which transforms into a salumi bar in the evenings) and La Casita.
Sitting near The Entrance on the peninsula between Tuggerah Lake and the Pacific Coast, Long Jetty has emerged as the epicenter of the Central Coast’s creative community.
From The Sound Exchange’s collection of 25,000 records to Shadow Bang’s carefully chosen range of clothes and Mowgli Studio’s botanical emporium, the diverse retail offerings in this coastal town reflect Long Jetty’s burgeoning boho community.
Vivid street art and architectural gems – like its A-frame shopfronts and theatre-turned-cocktail bar, The Savoy – have set the tone for a new kind of Central Coast cool. The Glass Onion Society functions as an espresso bar, gallery space, and gig spot, making a great stop to get a feel for the town.
Surfers flock to Toowoon Bay for one last wave. For others, there’s no better place to watch the sun go down than the town’s namesake long jetties over the lake.
At the mouth of the Clarence River on the Far North Coast, Yamba is an increasingly hip enclave where life revolves around the water. There are beaches to suit every weather condition and world-class surfing spots like Angourie Beach, where dolphins rule the river and, during winter, whales splash past the coast.
In Yamba, three generations of one family run seafood restaurant Sandbar, the best bar in town is still the Pacific Hotel (with views to rival the local lighthouse), and fantastic coffee can be found at Yum Yum Angourie Cafe & General Store and, once you’ve hunted them down, you’ll understand why everyone in town is walking around eating sourdough donuts from Irons and Craig. Of course, stocking up on regional gate-to-plate produce at the weekly farmers’ markets, which boasts over 40 stalls, is a must.
It’s easy to fall into step with the boho lifestyle here: stay in a cool, self-contained cottage like The Boathouse, which has its jetty; shop or take an art class at retail hybrid Island Collective; join a sunrise stretch on the beach with The Yoga Room; or head to the beach to feel Yamba’s authenticity wash over you.
Surrounded by nature reserves and mostly empty beaches, the low-key town of Cabarita Beach (a 40-minute drive north of Byron Bay) is a seaside haven – and the hipsters are beginning to move in.
The right-hand point break that rolls along the headland and curves down the beach is the heart of the town: you’ll find locals and visitors up on the point watching the waves do their thing.
Chefs drawn to the town’s lifestyle and enviable coastal location have given it a little culinary cool. Grab breakfast with the locals at Fuel Bakehouse, or settle in for a juice at Nectar, a hybrid homewares store and cafe with neon signage.
At night, Paper Daisy (under chef Jason Barratt) remains a high-end favorite, while newcomer No. 35 Kitchen and Bar is focused on casual modern Italian. Paper Daisy is part of Halcyon House, an ultra-cool hotel with 1960s-infused decor, where the cool crowd hangs out. The Hideaway, a campground full of bell tents, captures the community’s easy feel and reverence for a simpler time.
A little while ago, you could have easily mistaken Bermagui as being just another sleepy little fishing village on the Sapphire Coast. Still, its BQ (boho quotient) is definitely on the rise.
New blood has come into the town: old stalwarts like the Bermagui Beach Hotel have been given a makeover; chefs and connoisseurs have set up new favorites like bakery Honorbread, Eastwood’s Deli, and Cooking School, and the Boneless Vegetarian Cafe alongside waterside drinking spots like Harbor at Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf.
Along with stretches of wild, empty coastline, Bermi has not one but two swimming spots that make it special: the Bruce Steer Pool and the famous Blue Pool. The latter, despite being named one of the best ocean pools in the world, never feels crowded: pack a snorkel, swim laps, and let the waves wash over you during high tide.