One of the most beautiful natural places that I’ve visited, it’s no surprise that Lord Howe Island has been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. A tiny speck of an island located off the coast of New South Wales, Australia, it is significant for a number of reasons: as an outstanding example of volcanic oceanic islands, for having the world’s most southerly true coral reef, for its endemic species and important breeding grounds for seabirds, plus for simply being so spectacular and scenic, despite its small size!
And best of all it’s possible to enjoy this World Heritage paradise. While visitor numbers are restricted and both flights and accommodation are consequently expensive, it’s a destination that will have you wanting to return (just as I do). Plus it’s the perfect destination to head to for a week to completely chill out and get away from it all. Find out more about what a trip to Lord Howe Island can offer…
The Perfect Paradise for Chilling Out
Firstly, don’t bother try to use your mobile phone on Lord Howe Island. There’s no mobile phone reception anywhere. Although there are phones in motels if you really need to receive a call. The internet connection is also not that great (at least the last time I visited). So while you can still keep up to date, it’s better to put your online life on hold.
Forgot also about needing to drive a car around. All accommodation options will pick you up from the airport. Then it’s generally a matter of walking everywhere, hiring a bike for your stay and being mini-bused around to your dinner bookings. The island is just 11km long, with most facilities and accommodation in an even more compact area, so nothing is far away.
Finally, there’s a limit of 400 beds on the island. That means there’s no big resorts or heaving bars and night clubs. Think small lodges and apartments, along with around 10 restaurants and cafes to choose from. There’s also a couple of local stores (with a small but expensive range of groceries) and a decent bottle shop. And don’t forget the BBQs on the beach plus at your accommodation.
So, what is there to do? Plenty, both on and off land, enjoying the beautiful World Heritage listed natural attractions of the island, at whatever pace your choose.
Head under the sea…
One of the most gorgeous parts of Lord Howe Island is the lagoon stretching along one side of the island. This is the perfect place to head for a swim or a calm snorkel off the shore. View the beautiful coral (the southernmost coral reef in the world), plus the colourful fish, small reef sharks, green turtles, rays on the seafloor, spectactular lionfish and more… Alternatively, head out on a boat trip to the furthest reaches of the lagoon, along with a guide. Or stay dry and view the coral and fish from a glass bottom boat.
The other popular snorkelling spot to visit from the shore is Ned’s Beach. Located on the opposite side of the island, it’s a bit rougher with the surf breaking onto the coral fringing the shore. One of the stand out activities is to join in the fish feeding, hand feeding a frenzy of mullet, wrasse, garfish, silver-drummer, spangled-emperor and King Fish from just off the shore in knee-deep water. Then hire a snorkel and fins if you don’t already have one, leaving a contribution in the honesty box, to snorkel along the gutters. Try to spot the anemone fish and giant clams.
Alternatively, head to the Pro Dive shop to head out on a diving trip, whether you’re new to the sport or an advanced diver. A variety of locations are available, whether on the edge of the lagoon, all around the island, or off to the distant at the steep inclines of Bal’s Pyramid, the world’s tallest sea stack reaching 551m directly out of the ocean. More details and bookings are available on their website. Then spend the rest of the day lazing about on the beach, or…
Or have an adventure on shore…
Lord Howe Island is criss-crossed with a network of walking trails. The most well-known hike is climbing Mt Gower, the tallest peak on the island at 875m tall. It can only be done on a guided tour. It takes a full day and will leave you grateful for a massage the next day. (Massages are available from multiple locations, including the luxurious Capella Lodge and Arajilla Retreat.) Alternatively, head up to Goat House Cave, which will still take 5 hours, or head out for shorter hikes at Malabar Hill (stopping for a snorkel at North Bay) or Transit Hill. Bird watching is especially popular and guided bird watching is available.
Located near the start of the Mt Gower hike is the picturesque Lord Howe Island golf course, surely one of the most beautiful courses you’ll ever see. The 9 holes meander through kentia forests and along the seashore. Clubs are available to hire.
Other sports options on Lord Howe Island include lawn bowls, tennis, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and surfing at Blinkys Beach.
Fly to Lord Howe Island with Qantaslink from Sydney and Brisbane. Only small planes are used, due to the limited runway length, but the flights still takes just 2 hours. There’s also a weekly service from Port Macquarie during part of the year.
Most accommodation can be booked directly or else organise a package with Oxley Travel. Rates generally start from around $250 per double apartment per night during the peak season (but not over the Christmas and New Year period), up to prices starting form $1500 per couple per night at the luxurious all-inclusive Capella Lodge.
The most popular time to visit is between November and April, but temperatures remain pleasant over the winter due to the maritime influence, with higher temperatures than Sydney.
Find Out More: Click here to visit the island’s official website.