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13 laid back places like Byron Bay to unwind

Searching for beach and laidback vibes? Here are alternative paradises to Byron Byron for surfing enthusiasts and beach lovers.

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Byron Bay is a testament to Australia’s laidback lifestyle,with its sunny beaches, great surf spots and fresh seafood. But during the holiday seasons, when people flock to this coastal hotspot, the traffic and people can drive you mad.

If you are looking for alternative places to sit back, relax and leave the crazy crowds behind, read on. We have 13 equally beautiful beach towns within and beyond Australia that offer as much as Byron Bay in their own unique ways.

13 places like Byron Bay

1. Mission Beach, Queensland

Mission Beach is one of the closest mainland access points to the Great Barrier Reef, sitting halfway between Cairns and Townsville on the map. The quiet beachside village is home to an excellent reef, rainforests and untouched beaches. Mission Beach is also home to the endangered cassowary.

  • Flight time from Australia: 2 hours and 20 minutes (from, Brisbane to Cairns Airport, non-stop plus 1.5-3 hour transfer)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $290 return (cheapest flights are from Brisbane where the average fare is $184 return)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $81+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $7
  • 3-course meal for two: $80
  • Package holidays can start from: $319 for 5 nights departing from Brisbane

Check out hotels in Mission Beach, Queensland


Image: Tourism Australia

2. Broome, Western Australia

This town in Western Australia was known for its pearling industry. Today, the pristine waters, wide empty beaches and unique camel rides at sunset make it one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations.

  • Flight time from Australia: 2 hours and 35 minutes (from Perth, non-stop)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $644 return (cheapest flights are from Perth where the average fare is $369 return)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $105+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $7.75
  • 3-course meal for two: $71.50
  • Package holidays can start from: $815 for 4 nights departing from Darwin

Check out hotels in Broome, Western Australia


3. Merimbula, New South Wales

Merimbula is a mecca for all water activities with its wide range of lakes and beaches. Known as the Jewel of the Sapphire Coast, it draws visitors from all over with its breathtaking natural beauty. Be sure to visit the local wineries and taste locally grown oysters that showcase the fresh seafood of the region.

  • Flight time from Australia: 1 hour and 10 minutes (from Sydney, non-stop)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $537 return (cheapest flights are from Melbourne where the average fare is $329 return)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $89+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $7
  • 3-course meal for two: $80
  • Package holidays can start from: $366 for 5 nights departing from Melbourne

Check out hotels in Merimbula, New South Wales


4. Torquay and the Surf Coast, New South Wales

This Victorian beach town marks the start of the Surf Coast and the Great Ocean Road, one of the country’s most spectacular coastal drives. This area is lso one of the world’s most renowned surfing spots, with visitors flocking here to watch the world’s best compete in the famed Rip Curl Pro.

  • Flight time from Australia: 1 hour and 20 minutes (from Adelaide, non-stop)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $357 return (cheapest flights are from Sydney where the average fare is $94)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $235+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $7
  • 3-course meal for two: $90
  • Package holidays can start from: $680 for 5 nights departing from Sydney

Check out hotels in Torquay and the Surf Coast, Victoria


5. Port Stephens, New South Wales

Port Stephens is a large natural harbour located in the Hunter Region of New South Wales. Its wonderful beaches and sheltered bays make it the perfect spot for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. The small towns in the area are also ideal places to stay and dine.

  • Flight time from Australia: 45 minutes (from Sydney to Newcastle Airport, non-stop plus 25-minute drive)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $255 return (cheapest flights are from Brisbane where the average fare is $148)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $181+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $8
  • 3-course meal for two: $100
  • Package holidays can start from: $436 for 5 nights departing from Melbourne

Check out hotels in Port Stephens, New South Wales


Image: Tourism Noosa

6. Noosa, Queensland

This swanky resort town is surrounded by beaches, national parks and a river. Noosa is perfect if you are looking for unspoilt coastlines and excellent water-based activities such as fishing or surfing.

  • Flight time from Australia: 1 hour and 35 minutes (from Sydney to Maroochydore Airport, non-stop plus 30-minute drive)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $357 return (cheapest flights are from Sydney where the average fare is $191 return)
  • Accommodation (3-star) :$167+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $7
  • 3-course meal for two: $70
  • Package holidays can start from: $639 for 3 nights departing from Sydney

Check out hotels in Noosa, Queensland


7. Yamba, New South Wales

From its bountiful beaches and surf-ready waters to its iconic lighthouse and campsite vibe, Yamba is a mirror image of Byron Bay sans the crowds.

  • Flight time from Australia: 1 hour and 25 minutes (from Sydney to Grafton Airport, non-stop plus 1 hour drive)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $687 return (cheapest flights are from Sydney where the average fare is $408 return)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $70+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $7
  • 3-course meal for two: $80
  • Package holidays can start from: $767 for 5 nights departing from Sydney.

Check out hotels in Yamba, New South Wales


Image: visitnimbin.com

8. Nimbin, New South Wales

Surrounded by National Parks and reserves, the sleepy town of Nimbin may not be a coastal one but with its chill hippy vibe and lush surroundings, it's not too far a stretch from Byron.

  • Flight time from Australia: 1 hour and 40 minutes (from Sydney to Lismore Regional Airport, non-stop plus 30-minute drive)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $998 return (cheapest flights are from Sydney where the average fare is $373 return)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $160+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $14
  • 3-course meal for two: $220
  • Package holidays can start from: $485 for 5 nights departing from Sydney.

Check out hotels in Nimbin, New South Wales


9. Lennox Head, New South Wales

A stone's throw from Byron Bay, Lennox Head is a popular day or half-day trip from Byron though warrants its own holiday for its vibrant sea village atmosphere and endless horizon views.

  • Flight time from Australia: 1 hour and 15 minutes (from Sydney to Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, non-stop)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $323 return (cheapest flights are from Sydney where the average fare is $128 return)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $160+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $14
  • 3-course meal for two: $220
  • Package holidays can start from: $485 for 5 nights departing from Sydney

Check out hotels in Lennox Head, New South Wales


Image: Tourism Authority of Thailand

10. Railay Beach, Thailand

Isolated from the mainland and accessible only by boat, this tiny peninsula has sun, sea, lush jungles and limestone crags that cater to the adventurous. Railay is the ultimate jungle gym for rock climbing enthusiasts and is also the perfect place to lay back and relax in this tropical paradise with plenty of beachside eateries and seaside bars.

  • Flight time from Australia: 9 hours and 30 minutes (from Perth, 1+ stops)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $657 return (cheapest flights are from Perth where the average fare is $459 return)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $153+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $5.23
  • 3-course meal for two: $9.19
  • Package holidays can start from: $999 for 6 nights departing from Perth

Check out hotels in Railay Beach, Thailand


Image: Goa Tourism

11. Goa, India

The coastline of Goa stretches along the Arabian Sea with its golden, sandy beaches. The area’s known for a laid-back tropical vibe and nightlife, and has embedded itself in hippie backpacking culture. It’s also rich in history: you can still find evidence of Portuguese colonizations in its cavalcades of 16th century buildings.

  • Flight time from Australia: 30 hours and 5 minutes (from Perth, 1+ stops)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $884 return (cheapest flights are from Sydney where the average fare is $810 return)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $32+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $1.22
  • 3-course meal for two: $20.31
  • Package holidays can start from: $1,709 for 7 nights departing from Sydney

Check out hotels in Goa, India


12. Sihanoukville, Cambodia

This Cambodian city lies halfway between Thailand and Vietnam on a coastline often explored by tourists on 100cc motorcycles. The beaches may not be Southeast Asia’s finest but the laid-back atmosphere, abundance of budget accommodation and seaside BBQ joints provide a great escape from your typical beach bum crowds.

  • Flight time from Australia: 8 hours and 25 minutes (from Perth, 1+ stops)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $791 return (cheapest flights are from Sydney where the average fare is $663 return)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $38+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $1.42
  • 3-course meal for two: $21.30
  • Package holidays can start from: $901 for 5 nights departing from Melbourne

Check out hotels in Sihanoukville, Cambodia


13. Tofino, British Columbia

The surf capital of Canada is a spot of stunning beauty and ecological diversity. If surfing the waves is not your cup of tea, explore the ancient rainforest trails and come face to face with natural wonders that are over 1,500 years in age. You cans also browse the locally owned shops for hidden gems - you won’t find any chain stores here.

  • Flight time from Australia: 14 hours and 15 minutes (from Sydney to Vancouver, non-stop plus 5.5 hour drive or an additional 45 minute flight)
  • Average flight price from Australia/price range: $1106 return (cheapest flights are from Melbourne where the average fare is $1000 return)
  • Accommodation (3-star): $210+ per night
  • Domestic beer: $6.77
  • 3-course meal for two: $67.68

Check out hotels in Tofino, British Columbia


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Food, drink and hotel costs sourced from: Numbeo.com and Hotel Finder. Hotel price based on a per-night price in January 2019 quoted on 30 December 2019. Prices are based on a per-night rate for a 5-night stay at a 3-star hotel in the above destinations. We used the dates 17-21 January 2019 as a guide.

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