Byron Bay roadies, beaches and vegan eats: Q&A with Josh Stewart
Planning a trip to Byron Bay? We caught up with drone photographer and plant-based advocate Josh Stewart to get the low down on the best local spots to explore and to get his recommendations for the best plant-based and vegan restaurants in Byron Bay.
Q&A with Josh Stewart
Why do you love coming to Byron Bay?
Byron to me is the perfect combination of a relaxed beach town mixed with vibrant nightlife holiday vibes. It’s a really friendly area and popular amongst backpackers and tourists for its laid back lifestyle.
It’s also a bit of a regional oasis in my opinion due to the sheer variety of quality food and drink options available. It’s impossible to find so many wonderful cafes and restaurants so close together on the Mid-North coast where I’m from. Because of this I’ve got lots of fond memories in Byron Bay eating, drinking, laughing and relaxing with friends from around the world and am always eager for another visit!
Byron Bay in 3 words…
Welcoming coastal vibes <3
Where is your favourite place in the area to explore?
The Hinterland area is gorgeous even on an overcast day! My girlfriend and I love exploring Bangalow, and meeting locals working in creative spaces and beautiful boutique stores. Brunswick Heads is also a pretty special spot we’re keen to explore more of. There’s a boardwalk bridge over the river there that connects the beach to a delicious ice creamery and is also part of a local self-guided tour of hidden fairy houses – I mean how magical is that?!
What is your top hidden spot in Byron?
The Tree House up on Belongil Beach! We stumbled upon this restaurant after watching another gorgeous Byron sunset over the waves, and simply loved the cosy vibes of the place; full of fairy lights and jungle plants. Their menu had plenty of options to choose between but we couldn’t go past their hearty woodfire pizza and enjoyed discussing limited edition Stone and Wood beers with the staff.
As a vegan, what are your favourite plant-based foodie spots in Byron Bay?
To be completely honest, everywhere in Byron seems to have vegan options these days, and it’s one of the things I love most about this town. Coming from a regional town myself, where I usually only have a couple of dishes to choose from, the sheer number of vegan food options available here is incredible.
I could probably talk for hours about all the amazing food in Byron but our top spots would probably have to be Bayleaf, The Byron Bay General Store, Elixiba and the hole in the wall crepe place on Lawson street (they have sweet and savoury vegan crepe options!!).
Looking for healthy food options in the area? Check out our top 10 healthy eats in Byron Bay for even more delicious inspo.
What’s your all-time favourite restaurant?
Elixiba had been recommended to us by friends and family back home, and oh boy; it did not disappoint! With an all vegan menu and drop-dead gorgeous fruity cocktails served by candlelight we loved every second of our visit. While I was surprised to find this restaurant tucked away in an arcade away from the main streets, it turned out to be the perfect cosy retreat on a rainy winter’s evening in Byron. Oh and did I mention all the furniture in there is ornately carved wood? And I mean everything, tables, chairs and even the corner booths are shaped like intertwining tree branches! Seriously such a lovely dining experience all round.
Do you have a favourite brekkie spot?
Bayleaf – this place is popular for good reason. The food and drinks served here are simply beautiful and somehow manage to taste even better than they look – which is seriously impressive considering they serve their dishes in gorgeous locally crafted pottery. The granola with fresh fruit, and a chai latte with maple syrup were a highlight of this trip for us.
What is your favourite place to stay in Byron Bay?
Obviously The Surf House for its unbeatable combination of prime location and affordable accommodation options.
Located right in the heart of Byron, and only a block away from the main beach, The Surf House is a no-brainer for anyone looking to enjoy the best of everything this town has to offer.
The building itself is clean and welcoming with cute beach decor and surf memorabilia including several racks of surfboards that are available for complimentary hire (we will definitely be back to try these out)! Another huge plus for us is their option for $10 daily underground parking, which means no more battling the crowds and parking meters just to park your vehicle. Oh and did we mention the staff there are awesome?
Check out the rooms at The Surf House.
What is your favourite place for cocktails?
Karkalla is an understated cafe/restaurant/bar located right beside The Surf House that initially caught our eye with its acknowledgement of Bundjalung Country blackboard displayed outside.
Upon further inspection we were thrilled to learn that Karkalla is an Indigenous Australian restaurant that showcases local native ingredients in their food and drinks. On arrival our waitress brought over a platter of some of these native ingredients such as bush tomatoes, saltbush, karkalla (pigface) and fingerlimes for us to taste and learn about before they were cooked with. We ordered deliciously vibrant house spritzes and will no doubt be back again to try the Finger lime Margaritas soon!
What’s your favourite beach?
I know it’s probably a cliche answer but my girlfriend and I love Wategos Beach. On our most recent trip we spent several hours there escaping the crowds of The Pass, just lying on picnic rugs in the sun beneath the Pandanus and Casuarina trees watching dolphins surf the waves.
How do you stay active whilst travelling?
Ideally I try to head out for a light early morning jog and/or swim on the beach most days before going out for breakfast and coffee. I find that the best weather (lighter winds and glorious sunshine) is usually just after sunrise, and it’s also such a lovely time to meet and chat with locals (and their adorable dogs) before they get too busy with their daily schedules. My girlfriend and I also enjoy evening walks around town after dinner; letting our food settle, stumbling across awesome buskers and window shopping along a scenic route back to The Surf House.
Looking for the best local fitness and yoga studios in Byron? Keep an eye out for our guide, coming soon!
Which item do you never travel without?
First thing that comes to mind is my drone as I love having the option to explore places from the air especially when the weather is beautiful!
Is there a song sums up a Byron Bay vacay for you?
Jack Botts gets me daydreaming about Byron whenever I listen to his songs, but if I had to pick just one to sum up our most recent trip it would have to be “The Coffee Song”; full of lazy days enjoying delicious warm coffees and hot chocolates by the sea.
Planning a winter getaway to Byron Bay? Join us at The Surf House for a boutique accommodation experience in the heart of Byron Bay. Check out our private and shared room options – perfect for solo travellers, couples and groups.