Our flight was incredibly early, so we tried to be as quiet as possible sneaking around our room packing with our headlamps and trying not to disturb our room mates. I’ve never flown Tiger Air before, but I was immediately impressed. Everything was very high tech, with automated self check-in, self bag drop and the works. They also have a great sense of humor and advertise their “infrequent flyers” club with a complimentary beverage of a water fountain drink. I like a good cheeky airline.
We checked into Backpackers Inn on the Beach, and true to its name, there’s a little path that gives direct access to Byron Bay’s biggest beach. The hostel had a very open design and tropical colors and people strolling around in bathing suits. After dropping out bags off, we went straight to the beach and dove in the water, although these waves were big enough to scare me. Byron tried to encourage me out to the deeper parts, and eventually I was enjoying myself until a big wave tossed me around and I called it quits for the day.
With water and sand still in my ears, we walked into town to the Woolworths to get taco making supplies. They were the envy of all the other hostel kids eating pasta, bread, and canned tuna.
The hostel was very social and soon we made friends with several German girls and some from Britain and were having a great time chatting about our countries until the hostel employees rallied us together and walked us to a local bar, Woodys. For the rest of the night, the bar only had people from our hostel dancing and singing along to American songs.
Today was the big day, and one I was very anxious about after being in the scary waves yesterday. I was learning how to surf today.
We walked to the surf school and waited with the other students, ranging from a 12 year old girl to a middle aged father. If she could do it, I could do it, I kept telling myself. Our surf instructor, Shawn, with long hair and a “no worries, mate” attitude, drove us in a bus to our surfing beach while playing stereotypically chill music.
We carried the big foam surfboards down to the beach, put on our rashers (surf shirts) and learned some of the basics of how to pick a good surf spot (long even waves means there’s sand underneath–which is good), and how to lay down on the board and push up exactly at the right time to catch the wave.
We ventured into the water and the waves weren’t bad at all! At first the instructor would push the back of our boards to give us a boost to push ourselves up on. I was a little wobbly but I got up on my very first wave! It was fun and definitely easier than what I was worried it would be like. Before the lesson was over, I was paddling out on my own and got up at least a few times.
After two hours in the water, we piled back into the bus, and I was ecstatic that I managed my fear of the waves and even managed to catch a few waves!
After surfing, we walked along main beach and over to Belongil Beach, supposedly a nude beach, but none were spotted.
Byron wanted to go back in the waves, and since I had my fill of them earlier, I got some girl time to go shopping for a wave-appropriate bathing suit, flip flops for Byron and goon for that evening. Australia may be expensive, but that didn’t stop me from finding a $10 bathing suit. Success!
After a quick dip in the hostel swimming pool, we had traditional fish and chips on the Main Beach, fighting seagulls the whole time.
Back at the hostel, there was a father with his two sons, and a few other girls playing Hearts, so I happily joined in and played for the rest of the evening right up until the club promoter from Cheeky Monkeys rallied us all again to go out to their bar. This club was much more lively than the last–packed with people, body paint and dancing on tables.
Even though we had checked out of the hostel, they let us use the bikes for the morning. We took them on a trip around the eastern-most point in all of Australia. The path had steep stairs and rainforest plants, and the most beautiful views of Byron Bay’s beaches. As we huffed and puffed along, athletic groups whizzed past us as if the stairs were nothing.
The top of the stairs brought us to a huge light house where we spotted a momma wallaby jumping along the cliffs with a little baby sticking out of the pouch. After our walk, we collected our bags, bought some cheap $5 Dominoes pizza, and hopped on the shuttle bus to our next destination of Tugun.