Positioned midway between low key Byron Bay and flashy Gold Coast, Cabarita Beach, is a sleepy beachside town thrust in the spotlight thanks to the opening of the super chic Halcyon House, just 20 minutes from Coolangatta Airport. There are no high-rises here and, in fact, the feel is decidedly ’70s beachside village vibe. Take one faded surf motel and muddle one part Mediterranean pool chic, one part breezy Californian cool and one part Long Island nautica. Shake well and serve over a laid-back Cabarita beachfront. Garnish with a crowd-pulling restaurant and lashings of sunshine. Sit back and drink it in.
Halcyon House somehow manages to be both quintessential Australian, and beachy Mediterranean cool at the same time with its crisp blue and white decor, Amalfi Coast guesthouse feel, and an on-site restaurant worth staying put for.
The Halcyon Suite can sleep a family of four and two extra beds can be added to the Master Suite (AU$100 each).
Cots for under-twos can be added to rooms free of charge.
The white bathroom features fluffy towels, brass fittings, English tapware, marble vanities, gorgeous hand-made floor tiles and Evo toiletries with their comical commentaries. There’s a pillow menu, turndown service (where house-made treats or quirky cherry ripe bars are left on your pillow), and complimentary mini bar (excluding alcohol).
Halcyon House can recommend a local babysitting service if you need a little break or want dinner on your own one evening.
Beach bags are provided, so no worries if you forget a few shoreside essentials. Do bring your surfing gear if you’re so inclined, though – you’ll have some waves all to yourself.
2014’s Queensland Chef of the Year, Ben Devlin, once served in the kitchen of Copenhagen’s award-magnet Noma before returning to his homeland. Now Halcyon House’s art-lined, beach-chic Paper Daisy has temped him to cross state lines. Casual fine dining is his style; locally sourced ingredients, simple preparation, amazing flavours. His creative menu of affordable sharing plates changes often but look out for things like grilled squid with green onion and black garlic, roast leek with ham and breadcrumbs and glazed lamb with horseradish. Breakfast is just as palate-pleasing: iced passionfruit with home-made yoghurt, fresh crumpets and ricotta, honey-roasted fruit and plenty of locally grown coffee.
Cabarita Beach is well-known for its surfing and contests are held there regularly – ask the hotel about events if you want to watch some wave-catching. Surf lessons, ocean kayaking, paddle-boarding tours and whale-watching trips (June to November) are all available in the waters off surrounding beaches. Dry off with a short coastal walk to Norries Headland or take one of the hotel’s artfully restored vintage bikes for a ride along the beachfront cycleway. Make your way north towards Kingscliff and Fingal Head for more scenic walking trails and some bijou boutiques. Head south for 15 minutes and you’ll find Brunswick Heads and its scattering of antique shops, local designer stores and generous sweep of golden sands.
Hippy-vibed Byron Bay is only a half hour’s drive south and has some of the best surf breaks in Australia – while you’re there head up to Cape Byron Lighthouse, which has an excellent vantage point across the bay and Tallow Beach. There’s a popular farmer’s market every Thursday if you want to seek out the most organic of organic produce.
A scenic two hour drive from Brisbane, just 15 minutes south of Gold Coast Airport with Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar flying daily, and just 30 minutes north from Byron Bay. Return airport transfers can be arranged on booking, alternatively you may prefer to hire a car from Gold Coast Airport or self-drive.
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