When Hanna Hervall @hannahervall tells me how despite living in Australia her heart is split in two, as she feels she have two homes, I instantly know we speaking the same language. The amazing thing is that still she lives with her beautiful family in Australia she manage to visit her second home a few months every year while successfully running two businesses, as a photographer and Bubnest. However when I ask her to pick her favourite spot to talk about with The Beach Seekers she comes back to Australia and the magic spot of Byron Bay. To be honest, Byron is one of my all time favourites too, and a very dear place to me. (…I have even decided that if I ever get a baby boy I will call him Byron…but the middle name cant be mentioned here. As it will scare away potential baby fathers ;)) So it squeezes my heart to share Hanna´s amazing Byron Bay tips with you. Still I have lost count of the times I been to Byron she mention places I am yet to check out and the images are divine. So enjoy the Byron magic and see you there!
What role does the ocean & the beach play in your life?
I grew up on a tiny island surrounded by the ocean, so it has always meant a lot to me. My birthplace is Hälsö, a small fishing community outside of Gothenburg. I live in Brisbane city now, one hour from the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. As a family we spend time on the beach almost every weekend and sometimes even during the week. My daughter does Surf Life Saving on a beach near where I used to live on the Gold Coast. I think its so cool to be confident in the water at a young age, it has a lot of benefits. Our plan is to move closer to the sea again, whether that is in Australia or Sweden it doesn’t matter. We want to be closer to the water.
Your favourite beach destination?
We are so spoilt in Australia, having paradise on our doorstep, so my first thought was Gili Trawangan just because it was such an exotic experience. At Gili we went snorkling with turtles right off the beach, we swam with horses and sipped on coconuts on a swing under a palm tree in the sunset. Absolute bliss! But when I think about it, my absolute favourite spot is Wategos Beach, Byron Bay. Its close to where I live, the water here is just amazing and you almost always spot dolphins playing in the waves not too far out. I love to swim under water with my eyes open and just marvel at that perfect shade of turquoise over the white sand. There are some palms for the shade lovers, great waves for surfing and the Byron village close by, its perfect.
The best coffee here?
I don´t drink much coffee, but there are coffee vans right next to the beach everywhere, even at Wategos. The Northen Rivers and Byron Bay has become a bit of a boutique coffee region with hundreds of coffee orchards in the hinterlands. Great coffee is a standard practice here.
I love to explore the gems off the main tourist area. I love the restaurants around Byron like Belongil Bistro or Three Blue Ducks at the Farm. Harvest is amazing too for breakfast or lunch.
There is great shopping in Byron Bay but the best shopping is probably off the main street, you can find vintage treasures in the funky antique shops of Bangalow. The local farmers and arts markets are always interesting. Arts and bargain shopping at the Industry Park on the way into Byron is where a lot of locals go to grab a bargain. International hot spots such as Spell & The Gypsy Collective is now located a little bit off the main street too if you like that bohemian gypsy look, a bit pricey but always crowded and it’s definitely worth checking out even for a relaxing cup of tea in their amazing courtyard.
Best healthy eats?
Healthy eats can be found everywhere in Byron. This is the place for raw foods, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, not to talk about pretty!! Healthy food is literally everywhere. No shoes, no processed food, no worries. Harvest in the Newrybar (hinterlands) is worth the drive, even if you are coming from Sydney. This place makes you feel right at home with its organic kitchen garden and stunning surrounding. Its exceptionally tasty and beautifully presented food is the best of its kind. Organic and sustainable. If you bring home any harvest produce it could cause serious pantry envy.
It’s not like Bali where you have all those amazing beach side set ups, this is more BYO towel. If you want to support local, check out “The Beach People” roundie (round towel).
There are quite a few places around byron, but Gaia is probably the most famous retreat / massage place.
Best way to exercise here?
There are lots of yoga studios in Byron Bay, and lots of hikes too, but for someone new to the area there is nothing quite like the famous light house walk, lots of uphill and lots of steps, and spectacular panoramic ocean views. If the forecast is good for surfing; I would get up early and go for a surf. If it’s too crowded, there are lots of alternative beaches around the area.
Chicest place to stay here?
Check out the local Airbnb’s, there are some super chic hinterland escapes with outdoor baths or rainforest pools. Book early as Byron is super popular and a bit pricey. Nothing like waking up in federal, or possum creek and watching the fog clear over the rolling hills while the sun peaks through the palm trees. It’s cheaper in the hinterlands but you may need a car to get around (Uber into town is probably no more than $20 though). Lots of celebrities stay at Ray’s at Wategos, I have heard only good things about Ray’s but bring your big wallet.
Sunrise at Wategos or any of the beaches nearby, perfect for a mind-blowing meditation session or a cleansing early morning swim/surf. I would also take a drive in the hinterlands in the afternoon until the sun sets, the scenery is pure magic and it’s a must do. There are some great places to eat up there too, a famous Japanese Restaurant called Doma Cafe that people drive for hours to get to (you need to book a table here). Harvest Cafe is a big hit among foodies, super healthy and super pretty food, no instagram filters needed (as mentioned above). There are some spectacular waterfalls in the area like Protestors Falls, bring a friend with a camera as you could get some seriously nice photos here, impossible to do on your own. South of Broken heads there are some hidden surf spots for the adventurer (you need to hike to get there, so bring a local surfer to show you) and nudist beaches for the wild and free, I found one just on the southern side of broken heads.
In your beach bag?
Organic sunscreen, sunglasses, a sunhat, a bikini, my water bottle and a few snacks so if I have to skip lunch I’ll survive.
Your beauty routine before and after the beach?
I like Kora Organics, and my husband make a killer coffee scrub with coconut oil and wild orange essential oils. It works perfect to scrub off sunscreen and go out (or to bed) smooth as a baby. I use coconut oil for everything and sunscreen is a must, a natural organic one.
Your secret to keep fit on holidays? I do yoga early in the morning every day, keeping it simple, just need a mat. Then I’m set for the rest of the day and if there are any other activities planned that’s a bonus! I have a light yoga mat for travelling.
Your beach uniform?
I love South American swimwear, but my latest bargains have been found at H&M. For something unique that is not too pricy check out butterfliesandbikinis.com.
Your favourite part of an ultimate beach day?
My ultimate beach day would involve some me-time. As a mum that is very rare, as there is always somebody to look after. Nothing beats taking my family to the beach, but just to have an opportunity to go for a swim, or a surf on my own or with a friend would be my favourite part.