Dolphins are having the time of their lives skimming the waves at Cabarita Beach on NSW’s stunning north coast. Blue skies, white sand and turquoise water create a stunning backdrop to the small coastal village that is home to 3000 residents.
If you are looking for a short break away with lots to do and great dining options, Cabarita Beach is perfect. Located just 15 minutes south of the Gold Coast Airport and 30 minutes north from Byron Bay, it is one of the country’s best kept secrets. Known as a surfing hot spot, it also has spectacular scenic drives and coastal walks perfect for hand-in-hand leisurely meanders from Cabarita Beach around to Norries Headland. The scenery changes constantly as you walk through a tunnel of coastal rainforest, down along the popular surfing point breaks.
At the top of the headland you can enjoy wonderful views to the north and south.
Where to stay
A great base is Halcyon House, once a tired 1960s beachside motel that is now a chic coastal retreat with loads of style. It is a place where you slip into holiday mode from the moment you drop your bags and kick off your shoes. The 21 stylish rooms created by Brisbane interior designer, Anna Spiro are all different with rich fabric-upholstered walls, antique treasures and original art creating a haven to relax. Every room and suite features a private balcony or courtyard and there’s a luxury pillow menu for a dreamy night’s sleep. A freestanding tub is perfect for a soak after a swim at the beach or a dip in the heated pool.
Dining is an adventure at the pretty Paper Daisy poolside restaurant, named after the distinctive wildflowers found nearby on Norrie’s Headland. Ben Devlin, Brisbane’s 2014 Good Food Guide young chef of the year, is head chef creating great dishes with fresh produce. Formerly of Noma in Copenhagen and Brisbane’s Esquire, he tempts tastebuds with standouts such as paperbark wrapped fish and amazing desserts. Italian style is backed up by general manager, Italian hotelier Mauro De Riso, from Capri.
It doesn’t take long to settle in here where you can watch bush turkeys forage in pandanus palms in front of the restaurant, ride those waves where pro surfers like Joel Parkinson can often be found, or sip a glass of prosecco pool-side. Halcyon House is a new member of the Small Luxury Hotels group.
There’s also a lot to see in the area and some great dining finds including Fins at nearby South Kingscliff that boasts an innovative menu featuring fresh seafood and organic produce.
Winner of many “hats”, owner/chef Steven Snow says his restaurant is all about a love of fresh produce, whole fish, quirky wine and pushing the boundaries of dining.
“Snowy’s Fish” cooked with riesling, lemon and parsley, green beans, cauliflower purée and local Kipfler potatoes is a menu standout.
Jump in your car
Nearby Mullumbimby that sits on the Brunswick River on the doorstep of the striking Mt Chincogan, has lots of great walking trails through Brunswick Valley Heritage Park that is home to more than 200 rainforest plant species. Always busy is the popular The Farm Byron Bay at Ewingsdale, another great place for lunch where you can see the enterprising efforts of growers who follow the mantra – grow, feed and educate. It is home to 300 hens, large black pigs and Scottish Highland beef cattle, and the farm’s Three Duck Cafe has an impressive menu serving fresh organic cuisine. Known to locals as The Ducks, it was established by five friends who are passionate about fresh produce and love to spread the word.
The Ploughman’s board with cured meats, Monte Nardi cheese, olives, eggplant relish and linseed lavosh is a great way to start a meal.
On the way home drop into the heritage town of Bangalow and enjoy a coffee at Town Cafe, located in one of the historic terrace buildings that is split in two – there’s Uptown for evening dining and Downtown for daily dining. Quaint shops selling everything from fashion to homewares line the streets. Newrybar in the Byron Bay hinterland is another place to visit and Harvest Cafe that is spread over three lovingly restored houses uses fresh, local and organic ingredients wherever possible.
Art lovers will also enjoy a visit to the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre that features historical and contemporary touring exhibitions and works of established national and regional artists. The Margaret Olley Art Centre celebrates the career, life and legacy of its namesake, Margaret Olley, Australia’s most celebrated painter of still life.
The Tweed Gallery Cafe is also a great place for lunch.
After all that touring, stretch out on a blue and white striped sun lounge by the pool at Halcyon House and wait for the home-made ice cream trolley to arrive – you won’t be
21 Cypress Crescent, Cabarita Beach NSW