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790km (490 miles) N of Sydney; 200km (124 miles) S of Brisbane; 78km (48 miles) SE of Murwillumbah

At the easternmost point on the Australian mainland, the sun's rays hit Byron before anywhere else. This geographical position is good for two things: It's attractive to the town's "alternative" community, and you can spot migrating whales. The humpback migration begins in May and June, when they head north to warmer waters to breed; and they return south around September and October. Painters, craftspeople, glass blowers, and poets are so plentiful that they almost fall from the macadamia trees. The place is loaded with float tanks, "pure body products," beauty therapists, and massage centers. Though it attracts squadrons of backpackers to its party scene and discos each summer, many of the locals simply stay at home, sipping their herbal tea and preparing for the healing light of the coming dawn. Families love Byron Bay for the beautiful beaches, and surfers flock here for some of Australia's best waves.