Journey To The Lost World - Lord Howe Island
Located just two hours off the eastern coast of Australia, but only accessible to 400 visitors at any one time, Lord Howe Island is one of the world's most incredible hidden paradises. For adventurers and families alike, it is a haven of tranquillity and nature that at times feels like you've stepped into a scene from Jurassic Park, with epic tropical landscapes reminiscent of the fictional Isla Nublar. We recently journeyed to this often forgotten holiday destination for our summer brand shoot, and learned just how special this tiny island nirvana truly is. Check out the stunning scenes below then read on to discover the basics about this amazing place.
Adventure: Discovering the beauty of Lord Howe Island
Location: Tasman Sea, off the coast of New South Wales, Australia
Activities: Hiking, Cycling, Snorkelling/Scuba Diving, Bird Watching
Difficulty: Trail walks and hikes on the island are graded 1-5, so there is a trek for every standard and experience level. Swimming and snorkelling is stress-free but there are plenty of other water sports like diving, kayaking and paddle-boarding for the more adventurous. Cycling around the island is a breeze.
Trip In 20 Words: Get off the grid, get back to nature and get inspired by the tropical beauty of this idyllic island paradise.
The spectacular natural beauty of Lord Howe Island provides the perfect backdrop to a relaxing holiday.
Discovered in 1788 by the HMS Supply en route to Botany Bay, Lord Howe Island is a little piece of heaven positioned remotely in the Tasman Sea, just hours east of the Australian mainland. A volcanic remnant, it is 11 kilometres long and just 2.8 kilometres at its widest point. It is home to just 380 permanent residents and at any one time, only 400 visitors are allowed to join them on the island. It is known as a well-preserved eco-wonderland, where lush greenery meets golden sands and sparking blue ocean waters, and in 1982 was World Heritage listed on the basis of its burgeoning tropical marine life and bird life populations. For those seeking adventure, there are plenty of physical challenges; for families, a terrific range of safe kids' activities; for couples' getaways or laidback, easy escapes, there are quiet nooks, relaxing spa treatment facilities and fine-dining options. Cityscapes are nowhere to be seen here - there are no high-rise buildings, no shopping centres, no traffic jams, hey there's not even mobile phone coverage. But what can be found everywhere is an abundance of natural beauty.
Hiking & Trail Walking
Lord Howe Island has an excellent series of trails that cater to every ability level. For the novice hikers, Old Gulch is an easier 300 metre walk or you can head further south for the moderately-challenging leg of Intermediate Hill. Malabar Hill or the Max Nichols Memorial Track offer a testing hike, and for the keenest of trekkers, Mount Gower is a must-do. Recognised as one of Australia’s best day walks, the 8-hour, 4.5km (one-way) trip can only be undertaken with a licensed guide. The spectacular views from the 875-metre summit make it all worthwhile, however, and you’ll be rewarded for your hard work with the best views on the island.
There are plenty of trails on the island, from simple 20-minute strolls to the testing 875-metre summit of the iconic Mount Gower.
Scuba Diving, Snorkelling & Swimming
The sparkling water of the island beckons all visitors, and it is impossible to not spend some time playing in, or on, the lagoon itself. Marine life that can be found is both abundant and broad in range, with approximately 90 species of coral and more than 500 species of fish found in the area. The calm lagoon offers a nice starting spot for beginners to snorkel and swim, while the 60+ dive sites presents the more experienced divers with action aplenty. Take a tour on a glass-bottomed boat to make the most of the aquatic show beneath, or for the really adventurous (and weather permitting), book a day trip to Ball's Pyramid, the world's tallest volcanic stack (551 metres) found 23km south of the island. Kit up in some scuba gear and explore the trenches, caves and drop-offs where you'll likely meet the turtles, Spanish dancers, Amberjack, Rainbow Runners and the occasional dolphins and Galapagos whalers that frequent the area. Another water highlight is Ned's Beach where you can hand-feed schools of fish in the shallows. You can also hang ten in the 'Champagne Surf' at Blinky Beach, throw in a fishing line from the jetty or head out on a charter boat in search of marlin and other big game fish, paddle-board the lagoon, or kayak out to Roach Island. The bright blue water world on Lord Howe Island is simply exceptional and the activities on offer almost endless.
Hand-feeding schools of fish at Ned’s Beach is a must-do.
Ball’s Pyramid, rising some 551 metres out of the sea, is the world’s tallest volcanic stack.
Cycling & Bird Watching
Aside from walking, cycling is the primary mode of transport on the island. Hiring a bike is one of the best ways to explore the island, as the 13km of winding roads and tracks snake their way through tropical rainforest settings and along scenic beach coastlines. On your travels, it’s almost certain you will see some of the 130+ recorded species of land and sea birds on and around the island in their natural habitat. It really is a bird watchers paradise – across different times of the year expect to see red-tailed tropicbirds, shearwaters, sooty terns and masked boobies. Atop Mt Gower, the providence petrel will respond to your loud bird-calling by landing at your feet. The endemic woodhen can also be found here, a species that was on the brink of extinction but due to a sustained conservation effort has since been re-established.
For a more comprehensive list of must-dos, get our take on the Top Ten Activities on Lord Howe Island.
Hiring a bike is the best way to explore the island.
Lord Howe Island is situated in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, 600km north-east of Sydney and south-east of Brisbane. Aside from sailing your own yacht there, it is only accessible by plane. Flights with QantasLink are year-round, leaving Sydney most days or Brisbane on weekends, with a flight time of under two hours. A small number of charter services are also available. It's best to have your accommodation confirmed in advance of purchasing your plane tickets, due to the capped visitor numbers, and make sure you are aware of the baggage allowance limits with your airline service provider.
Lord Howe Island is a hidden eco-wonderland just two hours off the east coast of Australia.
Places To Stay
There is a great mix of villas, apartments, beach houses and lodges that offer pure relaxation and your own little (temporary) home on the island, including:
- Arajilla Retreat - the laid back ambience speaks to island living, with a day spa for some personal indulgence and fresh produce from its kitchen garden for culinary goodness.
- Milky Way - located with Old Settlement Beach less than a minute from your front door.
- Capella Lodge - a premium, luxury retreat where you can enjoy a seasonal menu, dramatic views to Mt Gower, and of course, the five-star extravagance of your residence.
- Admiralty Apartments - The newest luxury accommodation on the island, offering two stylish and private self-contained apartments with ocean views over Ned's Beach.
- Lorhiti Apartments - stunning gardens surround six private, award-winning, self-contained, one bedroom abodes.
- Somerset Apartments - The central location makes these self-catered units a terrific island base for exploring, and you can choose from 1, 2 and 3-bedroom spaces.
What To Pack
Obviously your full gear list is determined by the time of year you visit the island, what the weather is doing, and what activities you are undertaking, but as a general rule, you will at least want to pack the following items:
- Swimming costume
- Hat or cap
- Sun protection
- Runners or hiking shoes
- Thongs or sandals
- Rain jacket
- Water bottle
- Head lamp or torch (the island is very dark at night)
For a more comprehensive gear list, check out our Gear Guide for Lord Howe Island.
Tips & General Information
Internet. Roaming internet may be available at your accommodation, check prior to booking for service coverage. There is also internet available at the Lord Howe Island Museum.
Mobile Phones. There is no mobile phone coverage on Lord Howe Island. Getting off the grid is what makes the island such a paradise.
Road Rules. Wearing a helmet while cycling around the island is common sense for safety, but it's also a requirement in NSW so make sure you follow the rules.
Visitor Information Centre. This is located at the LHI Museum, open from 9am to 12pm from Sunday to Friday, and offers all the island info you need.
General Stores. There are three (3) stores available for all those little conveniences: Diamond’s (Ned’s Beach Rd) which is open seven (7) days from 10am to 5pm; Joy’s Shop (Middle Beach Rd) which is open seven (7) days from 9am to 6pm; and Thompson’s Store (Ned’s Beach Rd) which is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
Banking Facilities. Currency is Australian dollars, credit cards are widely accepted and Eftpos is available at most shops and restaurants. For cash, an ATM machine can be found at the Bowling Club, while cash-out is available at the Post Office, Thompson’s Store and Joy’s Shop.
Medical Facilities. A small, four-bed hospital and dispensary is located on Lagoon Road, with consulting hours from 9am to 1230pm, Monday to Friday. However, the doctor and nursing staff are on call for emergencies 24/7. A local police officer can be contacted at the station on 6563 2199 or on '000' in the case of an emergency, as well as SES Emergency Services Personnel.
Camping. Camping is prohibited on the island for visitors. Residents and authorised researchers can apply for a permit. For more information, visit the Lord Howe Island Board website.
The hike up Lord Howe Island's iconic Mount Gower is recognised as one of Australia's best
day walks, while the steep incline on the Goat House Track will reward you with incredible
Crystal-clear waters make swimming, snorkelling, diving and other water sports a must-do.