Why Lord Howe Island Should be on Your Bucket List

Imagine a pristine paradise with dramatic peaks and a Jurassic vibe. Couple that with adventure, mouth-watering food and sublime relaxation. Welcome to Lord Howe Island.

Lord Howe Island is an exceptionally beautiful island located approximately 600 kilometres from the coast of Australia, directly east from Port Macquarie. Leave your passports behind as it is part of New South Wales and less than a 2 hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane.

As 1 of only 4 islands inscribed on the World Heritage List, due to its rare and diverse collection of plants, birds and marine life, Lord Howe is the ultimate destination for lovers of nature.

Here's why you should book a ticket and go:

  • There are just 350 permanent residents on the small Pacific island and visitor numbers are restricted to 400 people at any one time. Talk about getting away from it all! This limitation is also a good reason to book ahead, so you don't miss out on a spot.
  • There are no snakes, stingers, crocodiles or poisonous spiders on the island. Hello stress-free hiking!
  • If you're into bird watching or you've ever wanted to give it a try, than Lord Howe Island is for you. Most of the birds inhabiting the island have no fear of people. The wood hens run right up to you and on Mt Gower you can even call the Providence petrels straight to your feet. The petrels are charmingly clumsy and noisy and this experience is particularly special.
  • You will either love or hate this – but the island is largely without phones or wifi. I found this quite scary, then liberating! If I was desperate for a Facebook fix I could ride into town and jump on the snail-paced and overpriced wifi, but with the island's overwhelming natural beauty and so much to do and see,  it hardly seemed like a priority anymore. My Facebook-bragging could wait until I was home. 
  • There are spectacular walks for every level of fitness. If you’re up to it, I recommend doing them all. I’m not going to lie, the Mt Gower climb was tough, but the view and the incredible sense of achievement was well worth the pain and jelly legs. If this is your thing, the Seven Peaks Walk is a must.
  • The swimming and snorkeling is some of the best I’ve ever experienced. Along the reefs you will see gorgeous little Galapagos sharks, surge wrasse fish and double header wrasse fish. And while we're on the subject of fish – head down to Ned’s Beach and dip your feet in the water and watch as scores of fish lunge at you in hopes of a free feed. Simply amazing.
  • The food is to die for. Considering how remote and isolated it is, the quality and variety is outstanding. If you fancy trying your hand at some delicious island-inspired recipes, check these out from the Lord Howe Island Cookbook.

Meet Lord Howe Island...

Maximise your time in paradise with these top tips:

  • There are limited shops on the island and products are subject to the usual inflated island prices. The locals have their supplies shipped in every two weeks, and you can get in on this action by sending your favourite wine and snacks via Australia post ahead of your stay. Or if you're like me and prefer the 'I don't want to think about it' option, stay somewhere like Pinetrees Lodge where the amazing chefs cater for every meal to absolute perfection.
  • If you’re headed to Lord Howe closer to winter months, I’d recommend bringing some warmer clothing for the evenings, and a mid-weight jacket for the hikes.
  • The visitors tend to be in the 40+ bracket and all gave me a run for my money on many of the activities. I suggest getting to know your fellow travelers as they have much wisdom to impart – like toe socks to stop blisters on long hikes, and climbing gloves to spare your hands on the rope climbs. If only I’d known ahead of time!
  • Listen to the recommendations from your hotel. I didn’t bring a poncho or reef shoes and regretted it – hello damp clothes and cut-up feet! Which also reminds me, take some basic first aid with you if you intend to get amongst the wilderness.
  • There are no TVs in a lot of places, so bring a good book or laptop and plan ahead for bad weather days. There is also only 1 radio station available too, so if you’re into your tunes, bring your own plus speakers.
  • There are hardly any cars on the island so make sure you rent a push bike. The island is small and easy to get around on 2 wheels – not to mention the sheer joy I felt cruising around on a bike with the wind in my hair for the first time since I was a child. 
  • Bring cash. There is no crime on the island so many businesses use the honour system. You can rent kayaks, snorkel gear and even buy wine all over the island. 

There are many ways to tackle this remarkable island, depending on what you're into. If you're like me and adventure floats your boat, I recommend Adventure Week at Pinetrees Lodge where all of your activities, food, and the all-important planning, are taken care of for you.

You can also make your own way and stay at one of the many outstanding hotels and venues. For serious luxury, look into a stay at the Capella Lodge. For pampering, check out the Arajilla Retreat. For some fun with the locals and a relaxed atmosphere, head over to the bowls club for a beer and a burger. And for the coffee lovers, cruise into the tiny town and stop in at The Anchorage. 

There really is a little something for everyone. 

For more information on Lord Howe Island visit www.lordhoweisland.info. To find out more about Adventure Week contact Luke and Dani who now run the 160 year old family business at www.pinetrees.com.au

Main image credit: Luke Hanson

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