Lord Howe has always fascinated me.
It is those stunning photos of blue water, sandy beaches and towering mountains that intrigue.
It’s enough to make you want to book a ticket, jump on a plane and kick off your shoes the moment you hit the beach.
Lord Howe, ranked the world’s fifth-best region to visit by Lonely Planet in 2020, Lord Howe Island is top of my dream list to visit in Australia in 2022.
Measuring just 11km by 2km, the crescent-shaped UNESCO World Heritage-listed island is the ultimate getaway, with fine weather and just 400 visitors allowed at any time.
With one of the world’s most southerly coral reef systems on its doorstep as well as spectacular twin peaks ripe for hiking, Lord Howe Island, less than two hours’ flight from Sydney, will take your breath away.
Destination NSW lists 15 memorable ways to spend your time here.
Snorkel and dive among exquisite reefs
The meeting of tropical and cooler waters around Lord Howe Island has helped to nurture one of the world’s southernmost coral reefs systems, home to more than 90 coral species and 500 species of fish. More than 100 dive sites lure scuba fans of all skill levels, and there are plenty of great snorkelling spots around the island, too — try Ned’s Beach, where you can rent snorkels via an honesty box system.
Hike spectacular peaks
The guided eight-hour hike up Mount Gower (875m), the island’s highest peak, is one of Australia’s top climbs, with views from the summit that will leave you feeling on top of the world in every sense. But there are plenty of other trails lacing the island, such as the more leisurely Valley of the Shadows walk (1.2km return) amid huge banyan trees.
Visit Ball’s Pyramid
Twenty-three kilometres to the south of Lord Howe Island is a spectacular 551-metre spearhead of grey basalt that seemingly explodes from the ocean. The world’s largest sea stack is home to extraordinary birdlife, and the waters surrounding Balls Pyramid are teeming with marine life. Sign up for a cruise to the island, or take a drift dive with Pro Dive Lord Howe Island.
Catch big fish and eat them too
Lord Howe is a top destination for big-game fishing, with yellowfin tuna, wahoo and marlin among the fishy trophies you might bag on a fishing charter. Island chefs including Ben Crompton, head chef at the luxurious Arajilla Retreat, will even cook your catch of the day for you, just the way you like it.
With 14 species of seabird breeding on the island including the endemic woodhen, and 130 permanent and migratory bird species to be spotted throughout the year, Lord Howe is among Australia’s premier bird-watching destinations. In the winter, the island is a breeding ground for the rare providence petrels that wheel in the sky in huge numbers.
Sleep in luxury
For luxury hotel lovers, it doesn’t get much better than Capella Lodge’s Lidgbird Pavilion, an all-inclusive double-storey apartment featuring panoramic views of the ocean, mountains and subtropical rainforest, and a private outdoor plunge pool. At Arajilla Retreat, there’s also a private, self-contained beach house just for two.
Hit the spa
Tough day exploring this New South Wales island paradise? Enjoy some rejuvenation at the incredible Capella Spa at Capella Lodge. For the ultimate indulgence, try the three-hour ‘Dreaming’ treatment, including everything imaginable to leave you feeling balanced and renewed.
Surf at Blinky Beach
Surfing uncrowded waves doesn’t get much better than at Lord Howe, which has 10 main surf spots. On the eastern side of the island, the beach break at Blinky Beach is among the most accessible.
Enjoy an island-style barbecue
With their golden sands and incredible views, Lord Howe’s 11 beautiful beaches are perfectly suited to barbecuing outdoors. With 10 wood-fired barbecue spots around the island to choose from, make the most of the abundance of locally caught seafood and cook yourself an island-style feed.
Get the money shot
The 360-degree views from Malabar Hill at the northern end of the island are beautiful at any time of day, but the vista is supercharged during the ‘golden hours’ either side of sunrise and sunset. You’re welcome.
Kayak into the sunset
The island’s calm, turquoise lagoon is perfect for kayaking. Rent one in the late afternoon and take to the water for the ultimate sunset viewpoint.
Love a challenge? Sign up for the Seven Peaks Walk. One of the Great Walks of Australia, this guided adventure traverses the island’s spectacular and diverse landscapes for five days, including an ascent of Mount Gower on the final day. But you won’t exactly be roughing it, with hikers shuttled back to the luxurious Pinetrees lodge every evening for a four-course dinner.
Discover the island’s history
Learn more about this incredible island by visiting the Lord Howe Island Museum, a treasure chest of natural history, with fascinating collections spanning historical artefacts to a herbarium of dried and pressed specimens. The museum shop is also a great place to pick up gifts.
Explore the island on two wheels
With a limited number of cars on the island (and a maximum speed limit of 25km/h), Lord Howe is perfect for cycling. Rent or borrow a bike from your accommodation and explore the island at your leisure.
Play a memorable round of golf
Hugging the southern end of the island’s idyllic lagoon, Lord Howe Island Golf Club is one of Australia’s most picturesque and challenging courses. Meandering through a lush palm forest and out onto gently undulating open fairways, this nine-holer will keep golfers on their toes.
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