And while I’m not alone in this experience and impression of Byron, it doesn’t have to be this way. Determined to right some wrongs, I was set the challenge to find a different side to Byron, one free from the shackles of hung-over beach naps and sticky-floored bars.
Blair Norfolk, a former Calvin Klein model and now managing director of Activated Nutrients, explains that it was this exact maxing out on high-life excess that lead him to change his life and career in the process, by embracing a new side to Byron.
“I was living large and working hard overseas when my health took a serious dive,” Norfolk says.
“I was diagnosed with various auto-immune disorders and that was a huge reality check for me. The diagnosis sent me on an incredible journey to discover how to improve my health through organic, plant-based nutrition.”
So how do you escape the schoolies and pitfalls of booze in Byron? Norfolk took me on a guided tour with a few recommendations:
- Stay slightly out of town. Find a little hideaway that’s still accessible, but not in the throng of the backpackers. For us it was the Byron at Byron Resort & Spa, tucked away in a sub-tropical rainforest just a stone’s throw from the beach. Perfect for couples looking to get away from it all without missing out on luxuries like complimentary daily yoga classes and world-class dining.
- Use the outdoors as your playground. You’re in Byron after-all, you don’t need to find the nearest treadmill showroom to get a solid workout. Our trainer Josh, in the most chilled surfer-dude voice imaginable, directs us to sprint along the beach before knocking out sets of burpees and battle ropes, all while a strong northerly wind blasts sand at us. It’s a hard but satisfying workout in the late afternoon sun followed by a quick cool-down in the ocean.
- Hit the waves for an early morning surf lessoning. The waves in Byron are just the right size for novices like me. I even surprise myself by standing up on my second wave. “This is easy” I say, only to start overthinking my foot placement. It reminds me of the surf lesson scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall – “You’re doing too much. Do less. Don’t do anything”.
RELATED: How To Prepare For An Active Escape
Doing Byron as a (relatively sober) adult is a whole other experience, and although it’s Thursday lunchtime when I depart, it feels like the weekend. I’m relaxed and recharged after my mid-week escape. As I look out to the sparkling sea, I reflect on how different this trip has been from my last time here, before turning back to the bar. Health and fitness may have replaced holiday hedonism but it seems a shame not to indulge in a gin with a “supplement” of tonic before flying home. But just one – I’m an adult now after all.