Frequently described as Byron Bay or Noosa “before the boom,” Yamba is a relatively sleepy coastal town 62 miles south of Byron Bay that has all the same hallmarks minus the crowds. There are trendy cafes with swish interiors serving lattes that would make any Melbournian proud, and come nightfall, restaurants serve up fresh seafood caught that day (the town prides itself on its prawns). The historic Pacific Hotel provides live music, a dance floor, and stellar views over the water.
Yamba is home to four beaches, each with distinct water conditions, which means surfers will always find good waves. On Wednesdays, locals visit the Yamba Farmers & Producers Market at the mouth of the Clarence River to pick up their groceries, as well as artisanal pastries, candles, oils, and gins.
Out of town, visitors can explore Iluka Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gondwana rain forest. A nearly two-mile walking track takes hikers past strangler figs and vines and culminates at Bluff Lookout, where you can spot sea eagles and whales.