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Two popular surf spots with consistently decent surf: Swam- I mean... super secret spot! - and The Pass.
So, I’ve come to the realization that I have basically moved to the other side of the world to a place that is eerily similar to my hometown. So much for major life changes, right? What can I say, I’m a woman who knows what she likes. Because I am addicted to surfing and surfing ruins your life, I have to live somewhere that has consistent surf (with a reasonable climate), so that eliminates most places right off the bat. I know I’ve mentioned it in these blog posts before, but I am pretty sure Encinitas IS the Byron Bay of California... or Byron Bay is the Encinitas of New South Wales. Take your pick. Anyways, I’ve made a little comparison list to describe exactly what I mean.
- Surfing - OK, the beaches in Byron Bay are a whole lot more tropical than Encinitas, but the towns both have a rich history of surf culture, which draws in tourists and embraces the surf lifestyle. Byron has sand-bottomed point breaks while Encinitas has grass reefs, but all in all, the surfy attitude of the residents is pretty similar. In the parking lots at the beaches, you get your usuals - the local old dudes drinking coffee and complaining about the crowds, the moms brushing the sand off their kid's feet, and the tourists getting parking tickets on their rental cars because they don’t realize you need to pay for a pass.
- Food - Organic avocado toast? Check. Kombucha on tap? Check. Trendy cafes? Check. Artisan coffee? Check, but sorry Enci, all of Australia kind of destroys the US in the coffee department. They take their cups of joe very seriously. It’s alright though, we still rule the Mexican Food department. However, if you go into any cafe in Byron, and look around at the minimalist -reclaimed wood- rustic chic decor, modelesque young women taking photos of their smoothie bowls, the extremely clean dogs begging for scraps from their humans, and the well-dressed toddlers bouncing around, you may forget for just a second that you aren’t sitting in Good On Ya or Eve.
- Hippies - Ah yes, can’t forget our beloved Encinitas hippies. Drum circle at Swamis on a Sunday anyone? While some embrace it and some deny it, Encinitas has a longstanding reputation as a pretty hippie-dippy area of San Diego. Byron Bay has always been a mecca for those embracing the nomadic-vagabond lifestyle, and while that has grown to include a large number of European Backpackers, the barefooted, friendly folk playing homemade musical instruments and wearing hemp pants are still an ever-present staple of Byron Town.
- Nightlife - If you go out regularly in Encinitas, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “wow, I go to the same bars every weekend.” Let me tell ya, I’ve been in Byron for just over two months, and have already had these thoughts about the three main watering holes - The Rails, The Northern, and The Beachy. However, almost every weekend there is excellent music to be heard around town - including the buskers playing in the streets. I love Encinitas, but sometimes you have to travel all the way to the distant shores of Solana Beach (ten whole minutes away, I know!) to hear some jams at the Belly Up. Regardless, small beach towns aren’t exactly nightclub central, so divey local pubs are go-tos, no matter what side of the world you’re on.
- People - Lastly, obviously the people are different, and it's not like I’ve found replacements for my friends (I promise I miss all you guys!!!), but it is nice to have found some humans with common interests to mine. Just like Encinitas, pretty much anytime I walk into any shop or cafe, or paddle out, I see someone I know. People are friendly and always happy to talk - a lot - for hours and hours - about who knows what - with seemingly nowhere to be - seriously, doesn’t anyone work in these towns!?
All jokes aside, I think the ocean air seems to attract like-minded individuals, who prefer a low-stress, surf-infused lifestyle. But really, have you ever seen Byron Bay and Encinitas in the same room? Yeah, didn’t think so. So they must be the same place. Spooky, no?