A free-spirited, sustainably-minded community on the north coast of New South Wales, Byron Bay is a nature lover’s mecca drenched in sun, surf and the best barefoot vibes. Byron local Sarah Royall embodies the town’s spirit through her lifestyle, her energy and her content. As the founder and face of @saltyluxe, Sarah is a conscious traveler, creator and storyteller, sharing her awe-inspiring travels to gorgeous, tropical locales. Despite exploring many of the world’s most beautiful places, she admits that there is no place quite like home. Read on as Sarah shares her Byron Bay must-do’s—where to surf, eat, stay, shop and more.
Describe Byron Bay in three words or less.
Wholesome. Natural. Community-driven.
What makes living there so special?
My job constantly has me travelling to the most beautiful places in the world, yet nothing has quite stacked up to my home, Byron Bay.
Environmentally Byron is magic. You won’t go for a morning dip without spotting pods of dolphins, a friendly turtle is never too far away and the tropical rainforest surrounding the region is lush with life. Being surrounded by such beauty means a blind eye cannot be turned to the protection of our environment, which is why I believe there is such a strong sense of community & business-led sustainability and activism.
It’s also a creative epicentre, full of wondrous, diverse humans who are chasing their dreams (and doing it sustainably). Being unique is celebrated, thinking locally is the norm and it’s all real, down to its core. Of the 12 years I’ve been lucky enough to call this home I’ve always felt both cheered on and majorly inspired by the people living here. In fact, I might not have ever dreamed up SALTY LUXE without it. Calling it special for me might be a bit of an understatement.
As the co-founder and creative director of Salty Luxe—a content production company that is built on the principle of living consciously—how does living in a coastal community surrounded by farmland and beaches encourage you to live and operate your business consciously?
It all feels very interconnected, very wholesome. Because you are immersed in nature every day, you care about it. You can see its fragility and its power. You can’t help but create positive change in your own life and business. It’s not always easy and sometimes it can feel quite overwhelming, particularly with emerging technologies and the pace of the industry; but we’re genuinely invested and we’ll always continue to seek out more conscious options. We started small because we wanted to get it right and since scaling the brand we’ve stayed true to doing everything from a place of joy and purpose. Everything is possible and it’s exciting!
“Environmentally Byron is magic. You won’t go for a morning dip without spotting pods of dolphins, a friendly turtle is never too far away and the tropical rainforest surrounding the region is lush with life.”
How does living in Byron inspire you creatively?
One of the coolest things about Byron is its energy. It draws a super unique crowd and even though it’s a small town, we seem to get all the festivals, musicians, artists, etc. because it’s such a vibe to be here! There is such an epic energy and you get the best of living in a big city rich with diverse culture, plus the magic of rural Australian living. Oh also, we don’t have traffic lights, haha! The pace is definitely on my wavelength and the optional shoe thing really strikes a chord with me!
Byron Bay is known to be the home base of many creatives and innovative thinkers. What is it like being a part of this tight-knit community of creators?
REALLY COOL. I deeply admire so many local creators and businesses. Everyone hustles and works really hard, but never at the expense of others or the environment. You want to do better, because you’re inspired!
YOUR BYRON BAY ESSENTIALS:
Barefoot (hidden gem down a laneway), Sparrow (hole in the wall local haunt), Roadhouse, Harvest, Bayleaf, Folk and Sunday Sustainable Bakery.
Bayleaf – their brekkie greens are LIFE! Or Woods in Bangalow, it’s so cute and worth the trip.
A quick bite:
Don’t miss an acai bowl at our fave, Topshop!
Dinner with friends:
We loooove Il Buco, they don’t take reservations because it’s tiny but it’s the best pizza you’ll eat outside of Italy. No joke! It’s BYO too!
Grab a bottle and head to the beach for sunset!
Our absolute fave is Treehouse.
Hotels and AirBnbs:
You just can’t beat The Atlantic. A boho coastal vibe with elevated communal living so you can meet lots of other amazing people.
Best place to sweat:
Do the lighthouse walk and don’t forget to look out for whales and dolphins.
Favourite shops—what should we take home with us?
You have to visit my favourites SPELL (their boutique is beautiful), Rowie, Kivari, Arnhem and definitely Nikau and Hope & May if you love homewares. Make sure you also head out to the arts and industrial estate where you can visit Zulu & Zephyr, We are Pampa, Mctavish and lots of vintage stores. Lots of people miss this—it’s definitely a local secret.
Favourite place to take in the local scenery:
You really can’t beat sunset at Wategos Beach or The Pass. Because Byron is the most easterly point in Australia and the bay wraps around so widely, you actually get to see the sunset over the ocean from here, which is totally unheard of for us east siders! Also, you can almost always get out of the wind here.
I love The Pass for a chill longboard wave.
Best place to shoot:
Killen Falls—a beautiful waterfall up in the hills. I also really love golden hour in the hinterland, something about all the colours just brings everything to life. And of course anything on the ocean!
Byron Bay’s best kept secret(s):
The beaches of Broken Head are less adventured than most. They are a little more remote, but they are absolutely stunning. There are lots of waterfalls around the hinterland too, you can couple this in with visiting the beautiful hillside towns of Bangalow, Newrybar and Federal.
“Byron has such an epic energy and you get the best of living in a big city rich with diverse culture, plus the magic of rural Australian living.”
Playlist or album that captures the Byron Bay vibe.
My personal fav is local artist Ziggy Alberts. We used to watch him as a young kid busking on the street with hundreds of people cheering him on. He captures the soul of the place perfectly and is a great storyteller. You can also follow us on spotify: SALTY LUXE
Favourite Byron humans and brands to follow on Instagram:
@spell, @saxonkent, @lisadanielle__, @coconutbowls, @_lucyinthesky, @wanderingfolk, @aleiyablake_, @melcarrero_, @adriana_maria_, @jaiasicek, @rovebyronbay, @jamie-.green, @christinamacpherson, @wearepampa, @zulu&zephyr.
Describe your self-care rituals.
Sunsets, acai bowls, good chats and hugs. Maybe a bottle of wine!
What is your go-to uniform?
Cropped jeans and a tee in winter. Summer is a bikini and a bucket hat!
Describe your perfect Sunday.
A long beach walk with my partner Chesh and our dog Scarly. Coffee in the sunshine (and linger for far too long because I’m a sun baby and I need those rays), swim, acai bowl and chill! Time away from technology is key here.
Living in Byron Bay is dreamy but which destinations are on your travel wishlist as the world opens up again?
SO MANY. Morocco, Oman, Zanzibar and many of the more remote African Islands. Mexico, Utah and Arizona—and a California road trip. I also want to get back to the east coast Italy (Puglia is my fave) and Greece next summer. And I can never say no to my personal faves, French Polynesia and the Maldives. I just love being in the ocean and it feels like our second home now.
What are some of the ways that you tread lighter and travel more conscious of the planet and your impact?
We always ask ourselves if the travel is essential and can we combine trips to make our transit less impactful. It’s very challenging because travel is such a big part of our work, but we genuinely make a huge effort with this. We opt for trains wherever possible (this cuts your carbon emissions in half versus a flight) and we ALWAYS carbon offset.
When you reach your destination it’s important to remember that it’s always worth it to seek out the eco-friendly local operators, the ones that care about the environment—they are always there, you just have to dig a little deeper. Single use plastic is also a huge problem when you’re travelling because of course, you’re living more day to day and eating out a lot. We always travel with a thermal cup (for coffee especially) and take a reusable tote wherever we go. Eat in! Don’t take away and just straight up say no to plastic. Single use plastic is just so not cool and it’s one of the biggest ways you can help the entire planet.
Why should Byron Bay be on our travel wish list?
No matter who you are, there is something here for you. It’ll seep into your bones and you’ll never want to leave, trust me!
SHOP SARAH'S PICKS
You might also like:
We connected with Cisco Tschurtschenthaler, founder of The Slow, for our inaugural edition of “The Local” series, to hear the local perspective on life in Bali including her go-to recommendations.
Known for an insatiable appetite for adventure, travel writer and recent Malibu import Amanda Blakley shares her dreamy west coast lifestyle, favorite local beaches, go-to restaurants and more.
Vancouver photographer Christie Graham shares her local perspective on where to eat, drink, stay and surf in the charming gypset surf town of Sayulita, Nestled on Mexico's rainforested Pacific Coast.