Byron Bay

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The morning after Cheekie Monkeys I woke up sick as a dog. Big surprise. It doesn’t take long partying and living in a hostel before you ultimately get a cold. But Byron Bay awaited and I wasn’t about to miss out. So I grabbed a quick bite and set off to the beach.
The long stretch of main beach was full of swimmers and surfers alike. I found a shady spot under a tree and read and people watched until my nose stopped running and I had the energy to explore. Someone along my way down the coast had said the hike to the lighthouse in Byron is an absolutely must see! From the beach, I could see the lighthouse sticking out above the crest of a little hill. Couldn’t be more than 20 minutes or so, I thought to myself, might as well wander over.
Well, 20 minutes was a little bit of an understatement, and “wander” isn’t necessarily the verb I’d use to describe the hike. The lighthouse was significantly further away and much further up than it looked like from the town of Byron. The hike took close to 2 hours to complete, and the elevation change was slightly more than I wanted to endure with a cold… But it didn’t matter. The lighthouse hike was my favourite hike in Australia to date! The beaches and the coastal hikes were stunning! The path to the lighthouse takes you to a lookout point that is considered the easternmost point of mainland Australia! From there you can watch the sunrise before any other person in the country. Although I didn’t see any, the surrounding waters were home to pods of dolphins and whales and all sorts of sea turtles! The following day, Keelie and Laura (two girls from my hostel room) raved about all the sea creatures they had encountered on the trip. But my favourite part about the hike was stumbling across Tallow Beach.
Just after the lighthouse I came across a lookout to a breathtaking stretch of white sand beach. The windswept land stretched way off into the distance and, to my surprise, there was not a human soul on it.
I MUST get to that beach, I thought. Finding a deserted beach on the east coast of Australia is line finding a needle in a hay stack: especially during the summer months. How could this beach, that was so beautiful that people were stopping in their cars to gape at it’s views, be completely void of people?
I had just discovered my newest mission.
So the following morning I google mapped the area of Byron Bay and found a small road through a national park that would take me there. I grabbed a picnic lunch, my bikini, my book and a beach towel and set out. 45 minutes later I came stumbling out of the jungle and onto paradise. Tallow Beach.
I had found it! All on my own, I found it!
I walked along the surf until I found a spot to lie down in the Sunshine. I watched the waves for a few minutes while I tanned, then rolled over to start reading. All alone. On my private beach.
Not a half hour later I felt a drop of water, I turned around to see a massive black cloud that had snuck up somewhere from the South.
Nooooooo, I thought. I was prepared to camp here for the day!
Too late.
It began to rain. Before I had packed up my backpack it was pouring!
I was an hour from shelter and stuck in shorts and a tank top. This would happen to me.
I sprinted back into the shelter of the trees and popped out into the back of a random parking lot. There was a single car parked there and a young couple that I hadn’t seen before packing up some fishing gear.
“Hey, are you guys headed towards Byron Bay?” They looked at me, startled to hear a persons voice I think, and even more startled to see how soaked I was.
“Ya! Jump in! We’ll give you a ride!”
They were life saving. Every kilometer closer to Byron Bay we drove the more I realized how miserable I would have been trudging through the rain. They even went as far as dropping me off right outside my hostel doors, despite my insistence that the edge of town was just fine!
The rains didn’t stop for the rest of the afternoon. My cold had gotten so bad, that I was forced to go to the chemist for some drugs. I took it easy that evening, grabbing dinner around the corner and heading to bed early: envious of my roommates who were headed out on the town once again.
“Have a drink for me!” I said as they wandered into the night. And then I passed out as my head hit the pillow.

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Port Elizabeth

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We woke up in Summerstrand to a beautiful sunny morning. The little beach town we had found in darkness was absolutely stunning during the day. Everything is situated right along the water on one long street called Beachfront. On the other side of the road is stretches of white sand beaches, lots of surfers, boardwalks and blue ocean.
We drove in to Port Elizabeth hoping to see some sights before continuing onwards to Jeffrey’s Bay. Now, perhaps it was the area we found, or the fact that we had gone from beach town to busy city immediately, but Port Elizabeth was not our style. Right away we could see why people had told us not to go there at night. The city was sketchy enough in the light of day! Lots of back alleys and one way streets to get lost in, and without a city map we were definitely lost. We tried to search out the city’s lighthouse, which was apparently the touristic feature of the area. After driving in circles for over a half hour, we finally stumbled across it just as we were giving up. It was on top of a hill, and nowhere NEAR the water. Seemed like an odd location for a lighthouse. The thing was very cute, with tiled mosaic artwork next to it, and a little park to relax in. The building had a little cafe in it as well, and the barista made us lattes as we climbed the tower to the viewpoint.
The light house was tight to climb. Steep stairs at first, then ladders after that. The place just kept going and going and going! When we finally reached the top, it was very windy. You could see a whole 360 degree view, but it wasn’t stunning to look at. The ships in the harbor, the downtown core, then off to the right you could spot the beginnings of Summerstrand. We decided we preferred beach towns to big cities, so we climbed back down, grabbed our lattes and drove back to Summerstrand for breakfast.
We bought some smoked salmon, cream cheese and a baguette from the Spar and walked down to the beach for a little picnic. Apart from a few surfers, the beach was deserted! Just beautiful, warm beaches with no one on them! It was incredible.
We walked around the boardwalk for a bit, checking out the piers and taking photos of the town, then we packed up and hit the road again. We drove along the water to a place called Sea View and that’s where the beauty of South Africa began to hit us. Bright turquoise water with white caps and rocky shores that were stunning. This was the beginning of what the rest of the South African coastline looked like and we were hooked. Every time Kels and I spotted the water one of us would yell “shut up! Shut up!! Do you SEE that?! Oh my god!” Without fail, for the next 8 days. What we didn’t know, was that sea view was just a little, tiny bit of this. So we continued onwards to Jeffrey’s bay, with lots more spectacular sea views to come.

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