Surf & Dive in Byron Bay

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Byron Bay holds a really precious place in my heart. Located south of Gold Coast, it's only an hour drive away. On the first look, you might feel that there's nothing really special about this place and it's just another beach town. However, the place grows on you and all of a sudden, you can't help but feel at peace and in love with the place. The next thing you know, you're already planning your next visit back even before leaving.

Yes, that's exactly how I felt when I set foot in Byron Bay. It was August and whenever I show my itinerary to my fellow friends, they would comment on how crazy I was to go out to the sea to surf and dive in winter. I was insistent (and maybe stubborn) and was sure the ocean was warmer than the land in winter (you know, how water is a poor conductor of heat and loses heat less easily than land etc etc..).
The weather was being really nice to us and it never once rained in the entire road trip. In fact, the temperature was so good in the day that it even went up to 28°C. But most of the time, it was hovering around 22°C - 25°C, which wasn't that bad. It gets really chilly at night so that's when the outer layers come in play. The landmark in Byron Bay is the Cape Byron Lighthouse. Cape Byron is situated at the most eastern point of Australia, you get an unobstructed view of the majestic Pacific Ocean. The Byron Bay Lighthouse walk leads you straight to the lighthouse and the view is magnificent. Keep an eye out for humpback whales along the way as they can be sighted during migration period. The traffic in Byron Bay can get congested so it's actually faster to cycle around. It can get really hard to find parking lots during peak time too. I drove around though! There's a Woolworths in Byron Bay so that's my pastime when nightfall. I booked a sea kayak expedition with Go Sea Kayak. They picked me up from my accommodation and everything was settled really quickly. As I mentioned earlier, it's winter so it can get really chilly. Fret not, everyone was equipped with a wet suit and helmet. I felt that I was in good hands and never felt unsafe.

The moment we head out into the water, we spotted dolphins. What better way to see these creatures! I'm a huge lover of sea creatures so I'm a huge fan of being able to get out into the sea in a way where it does not hurt the ocean and the sea creatures. Sea turtles were spotted too! Adorable creatures. If you're looking for an adventure, go with Go Sea Kayak! :) Great time with them! And if kayaking wasn't enough to tire me out, I booked a surfing lesson in the afternoon after the morning sea kayak. Lets Go Surfing Byron Bay is the one to go. They're a little hard to locate because they're behind a building but I learnt a lot from the lesson. They have great instructors and I had a wonderful time with them!

Surfing was exhausting. Sure, it's really nice to be swept away by the waves but I didn't enjoy the part where I had to drag my surfboard back into the ocean, against the waves. But I'm proud to say that I managed to stand a couple of times! :) If I stayed longer, I would have booked more classes with them. And the highlight of my Byron Bay trip, actually it's the highlight of my entire Australia road trip, is with Sundive Byron Bay. Do I have a diving certificate? No. But after flying 3,800 miles to Australia, I thought I just had to get down into the ocean. Moreover, Julian Rocks was a beautiful place to dive and I didn't want to miss out a chance to do so. Plus, it was the season of the grey nurse shark so I really wanted to dive with the sharks. Thus, I got the PADI Discover with Sundive and it was almost a full day activity.

In the morning, we were given a crash course on diving and had a go in the pool. After the lesson, we had a break before we drove out into the sea for our real dive. My friend and I were attached to a master diver during the entire dive.

Unfortunately, my friend got sea sick even before the dive and he refused to go down into the water (partly because of a phobia of great white too). He wanted to sit on the boat and forgo the dive but the instructors were encouraging him to go for it as he'll only get worse on the stationary boat. Plus, it'll be a waste of his money if he sat out. So in the end, he went down and he never regretted.

As we are newbies, we only hung around the nursery area but WOW. There were A LOT of fishes, all kinds. I even had a connection with one of the fishes as we had eye contact for almost 5 seconds. You'll be surprised but you can actually tell if the fishes were looking at you or just swimming past without caring.

We spotted wobbegong sharks and turtles! I just had to talk about the turtles because they were just simply too adorable! They were trying to hide into a rock when they saw us, but.. a rock? And as mentioned, I wanted to dive because I wanted to see a grey nurse shark. They're normally deeper in but during the last few minutes of our dive, a HUGE shadow suddenly appeared in front of me. It took me a few moments before I realised it was a grey nurse shark. And gosh, it looked ferocious. It's the typical scary shark kind of look, with the mouth open. Even though it's really scary looking, it's actually safe to dive with them.

It's a real pity our sports camera broke down a day before the dive because the view was simply mind-blowing. So it was a packed itinerary in Byron Bay. And I had lots of fun in the ocean. And if you're looking for food recommendation, I have it! Beloporto was recommended by a friend and we went there after our dive. Their takeaway burgers were tasty and cheap. Food in Byron Bay can get a little expensive but the burgers there were value for money so it's highly recommended! And another recommendation is the Pat Morton Lookout. Approximately 30 minutes drive south of Byron Bay, it's this beautiful lookout point where you can just sit and enjoy the view. I sat there and watched the surfers in the ocean. And I had a shock when I saw something jumping out of the ocean. Turns out that the dolphins were playing in the ocean with the surfers. Yeah, I counted, there were more than 4 dolphins spotted. Plus, I saw humpback whales in the far distance too. I believe you can feel the love I have for Byron Bay just from reading this post. I truly love this place and if you were to ask me to list my favourite travel destinations, Byron Bay would definitely be in the list. And I'll end off this post with some of the snapchat videos I took when I was there! Follow me on Snapchat @michellegosh :)

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