Spend a few days on Lord Howe Island and you’ll start to feel as if all’s right with the world. The air is clean, the weather is perfect, you’re immersed in natural beauty every day, the people are friendly and, perhaps best of all, without digital distractions there’s plenty of time to, say, gaze at the sea, take a hike, breathe…
There’s no need to do anything at all, but if you do want to make the most of your island stay, here are a few unhurried suggestions:
Not only is Ned’s Beach one of the island’s prettiest and most family-friendly beaches, it’s where you can get up close and personal with metre-long silver drummers in the gin-clear shallows. It’s also one of the best and most sheltered snorkelling spots on Lord Howe.
Exploring the island on two wheels, with your beach towel in a basket on the front, is one of the joys of visiting this largely car-free island. Lagoon Road, between the airstrip and Settlement, the island’s only village, is one lovely stretch, a cathedral of green punctuated by fishing buoys tied to the trunks of palm trees (marking the secluded paths and driveways of locals’ houses). But there are plenty more. You’ll see.
Climb Mt Gower, Australia’s best and most challenging day walk, is accessible only with a licensed guide because much of the track is unmarked, but that doesn’t make it less of an adventure. It’s an epic day, involving rocky ledges and hauling yourself up near-vertical rock faces with permanently rigged ropes (which also help on the return journey).
Or: do at least one of the other walking tracks on the island. For a small island, there are lots to choose from, taking you to all sorts of beautiful spots.
Hundreds of thousands of seabirds nest on Lord Howe and its satellite islands every year, including providence petrels. You can walk to Little Island at the base of Mt Gower and call them down out of the sky. They’ll actually land at your feet or in your outstretched arms.
Yes, there are those birds. But you’ll also see, by day, the island’s two mountains, from almost anywhere on the island, from different angles. At night, being 600 kilometres off the east coast of Australia and with no light pollution, the star-gazing is spectacular. And in between, the sunsets aren’t bad either – the best spots for those are Little Island and the Boatshed at Pinetrees Lodge.
More Lord Howe Itineraries
Lord Howe for Ocean-Lovers … A week of swimming, kayaking and snorkelling in Lord Howe Island Marine Park
The oldest lodge on the island, family-owned since the 1870s, Pinetrees is more than just a place to stay. It’s a Lord Howe institution with a loyal following among return visitors. There’s a lot to love about Pinetrees, but part of it is the warm, island service and lodge atmosphere where guests feel as if they’re family too.
Going snorkelling with a guide helps you find the best spots for the day’s sea conditions, and helps you learn about what you’re looking at, all the better to understand the inhabitants of the Lord Howe Marine Park. Or dive Ball’s Pyramid, one of the world-class dive sites around the island.
The waves aren’t reliable enough to put Lord Howe on Australia’s surf-spot map, which is probably a good thing. Because if you’re lucky, it’s perfection and you’ll have it all to yourself (and maybe one or two islanders): reef breaks, mountain views from the lineup, warm water pretty much all year round. Bring your own surfboard (it may or may not arrive on the same flight as you, depending on loads) or borrow one while you’re there from a local. Or just ride your bike to Blinky Beach and go bodysurfing – no wax or wetsuits required.
This is something of a secret the locals will happily let you in on. It involves sitting on the rocky breakwall at the end of the airstrip on days when the wind direction forces flights from mainland Australia to fly in low over the lagoon and over you. So LOUD, so exciting!
One of the best things about Lord Howe doesn’t involve doing anything or going anywhere. It’s the fact that it’s safe, natural, relaxed and crime-free. Read a book under a tree, walk nowhere in particular, have a spa treatment (at Pinetrees or one of the other lodges such as Arajilla). You’ll soon start to feel as if you’ve been living there all your life.