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10 laid back places like Byron Bay to unwind

Looking for other places like Byron Bay? Here are ten alternative paradises for surfing enthusiasts and beach lovers.

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 ten equally beautiful beach towns within and beyond Australia that offer as much as Byron Bay in their own unique ways.

10 places like Byron Bay


Mission Beach

Image: Tourism Australia

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.

  • Top 5 beaches: South Mission Beach, Wongaling Beach, Mission Beach Village, Bingil Bay, North Mission Beach.
  • Must see and do: Great Barrier Reef, Wet Tropics Rainforest, look for wild cassowaries, skydive over the beach.
  • Stay: Castaways Resort & Spa. This modern beachfront resort is metres away from the white sands of Mission Beach and is set amongst rainforest gardens. Rooms with a beachfront view start at $225.

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Find accommodation in Mission Beach from $121 per night

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Broome

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.

  • Top 5 beaches: Cable Beach, Riddell Beach, Middle Lagoon, Town Beach, Gantheaume Point.
  • Must see and do: Camel rides on Cable Beach, Matso’s Brewery, dinosaur footprints, Horizontal Falls, pearl farm tours, Courthouse Markets.
  • Stay at: Ramada Eco Beach: The award-winning environmentally friendly resort is about an hour’s drive south of Broome and is surrounded by the beautiful, untouched Western Australia coastline. The resort offers activities like fishing, indigenous tours, whale watching and yoga. Eco Tents start at $190 per night.

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Merimbula

Image: Destination New South Wales

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.

  • Top 5 beaches: Middle Beach, Merimbula Main Beach, Short Point, Tathra, Barmouth Beach, Spencer Park Beach.
  • Must see and do: Kayaking the inlets, explore nearby national parks, try the local oysters.
  • Stay: Sails Luxury Apartments Merimbula: Features a private balcony that overlooks Merimbula Lake, with individually decorated apartments that can fit up to 3 to 5 guests., It is also a mere five-minute walk to Main Beach. Apartments start at $270.

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Stay in Merimbula from $68 per night

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Torquay and the Surf Coast

Image: Tourism Victoria

4. Torquay and the Surf Coast, Victoria

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.

  • Top 5 beaches etc: Bells Beach, Apollo Bay, Anglesea, Lorne, Airey’s Inlet.
  • Must see and do: Surfing, Surf Coast Walk, Cape Otway Lightstation Australian National Surfing Museum.
  • Stay: Peppers The Sands Resort: Sitting across the Torquay Foreshore Reserve, this resort is a short drive to Bells Beach and an ideal starting point for exploring Great Ocean Road. There's also an 18-hole golf course on site. Rooms start at $190 per night.

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Port Stephens

Image: Destination New South Wales

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.

  • Top 5 beaches: One Mile Beach, Fingal Bay, Birubi Beach, Zenith Beach, Box Beach.
  • Must see and do: Local wineries in the nearby Hunter Valley, dolphin watching, sandboarding and camel rides at the Stockton Sand Dunes.
  • Stay at: Landmark Resort: Modern, self-contained apartments with spectacular views of Port Stephens. Sitting right next to Nelson Bay’s 27-hole golf course, this is the perfect location for tourists. Rooms start at $175.

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Stay at a Port Stephens resort from $102 per night

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Noosa

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.

  • Top 5 beaches: Noosa Main Beach, Noosa Spit, Noosa Groyne, Sunshine Beach, Castaways Beach.
  • Must see and do: Surfing, beach or river fishing, Fraser Island tours, biking along the coastline.
  • Stay at: Sofitel Noosa Resort & Spa: This 5-star luxury hotel is a two-minute walk from the famed Noosa Main Beach and Hastings Street where you can easily find places to shop, eat and drink. Rooms start at $339.

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Railay Beach

Image: Tourism Authority of Thailand

7. 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.

  • Top 5 nearby beaches: Railay Beach, Tonsai Beach, Ao Nang Beach, Nopparat Thara Beach, Phra Nang Beach.
  • Must see and do: Rock climbing, sea kayaking, diving and snorkelling, jungle trekking, explore nearby islands by longtail.
  • Stay at: Rayavadee Resort: This secluded getaway is hidden among tropical foliage, right next to the Krabi Marine National Park. Rooms start at $270.

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Image: Goa Tourism

8. 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.

  • Top 5 beaches: Chapora, Anjuna, Miramar, Siridao, Palolem.
  • Must see and do: Spice plantations, 16th century churches in Old Goa, bazaars.
  • Stay at: Shanti Morada Goa: This small hotel chain offers boutique properties in three cities across India, including the Goa village of Saligo. Rooms here are housed within the fully restored Casa de Morada, originally built in 1897. They  are also furnished with handpicked items dating back 300 years. Rooms start at $110.

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Sihanoukville

9. 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.

  • Top 5 beaches: Orcheteaul, Serendipity, Victory, Independence, Otres.
  • Must see and do: Khmer cookery classes, diving and snorkelling, eat fresh seafood at a beach BBQ.
  • Stay at: White Boutique Hotel: Situated on a private beach in Sihanoukville, this trendy Cambodia resort is the perfect spot to relax on the coast. Plus, upgraded rooms offer direct access to the pool area. Rooms start at $160.

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Explore Cambodia's temple ruins and pristine beaches on tour from $495

Join a Geckos Adventure tour through Cambodia and other destinations in Indochina and experience everything from Angkor Wat's temple ruins to Sihanoukville's pristine beaches. Tours start at $495 per person.


Tofino

Image: Tourism Tofino

10. 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.

  • Top 5 beaches etc: Chesterman, Long Beach, Cox Bay, Wickaninnish Beach, Mackenzie Beach.
  • Must do/see: Heritage trails, kayaking and canoeing, surfing, whale watching.
  • Stay at: Long Beach Lodge Resort: This luxury adventure resort offer plush rooms and dramatic views of the seas and surfers. Prices start at $407.

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Alex Keshen

Alex takes care of the travel section here at finder.com.au. If there's a new sale on tours or cruises, discounted flights or hotels, or anything else that can be on offer, she'll fill you in.

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