Best for Surfers: Halcyon House
Where: Spanning more than 35 kilometers of sand, the Tweed Coast in northern New South Wales deserves its place among the most scenic shores in Australia. Here, the sleepy town Cabarita Beach is an unlikely location for one of the country’s newest boutique hotels, but that hasn’t stopped Halcyon House from earning considerable applause since it opened its doors in May.
Why: A 25-minute drive north of Byron Bay, this former 1960s surfside motel has been transformed into a blissful beach retreat, uniting the colors of the Mediterranean—whitewashed walls beside overstuffed blue lounge chairs—with quintessential Australian charm. The 21 rooms are individual in design, from the handpicked artwork to the eclectic antiques, which also spill into the Paper Daisy restaurant where chef Ben Delvin prepares dishes such as paperback-grilled fish and pippies with potatoes while you gaze over pandanus palms to the pool.
Lay of the sand: It may be located halfway between the glitzy Gold Coast and bohemian Byron Bay, but Cabarita Beach is a world away from both in ambiance. A magnet for surfers for decades—world-class pro Joel Parkinson is based here, and gives lessons—it’s also popular among divers and whale-watchers.
61-2/6676-1444; doubles from US$390