One of the most unique and untouched of any Australian island, Lord Howe Island is a place unlike any other around Australia. Called ‘the last paradise’ as it was the last island ‘discovered’ in the world in 1788, Lord Howe Island is remote and undeveloped, a paradise island that feels like you have it all to yourself. Overflowing with incredible nature hikes, stunning beaches, tall palm trees and the world’s southernmost coral reef, the island boasts UNESCO World Heritage status, and it’s not hard to see why. Everywhere you turn you’re greeted with beautiful landscapes and idyllic scenes, making you wonder why you hadn’t visited earlier.
The remains of a now-extinct volcano which dates back more than 7 million years and has eroded to just 5 per cent of its original size, Lord Howe Island is an extremely special environment. Quite a small island, only 11 kilometres long and about two kilometres wide, it is believed that Lord Howe Island was uninhabited for millions of years, with no record of Indigenous Australians having ever lived on the island. The remains of the volcano have formed some beautiful coral reefs in the lagoons and bays around the island, with some of the most beautiful and colourful snorkelling opportunities of anywhere we’ve been in Australia.
Floating in the Tasman Sea, Lord Howe Island is about 600 kilometres off the coast of Australia, almost directly in line with Port Macquarie. Only allowing 400 visitors onto the island at any one time, and with not a scrap of phone reception to be found, Lord Howe Island is never crowded and really gives you the ultimate island getaway. Where the only thing to do is disconnect, hit the beach, enjoy your time swimming and explore every corner of this tropical paradise. Regular flights from Sydney throughout the week means that you can easily head here for a weekend of relaxation, but book your accommodation before your flights to make sure you grab one of those 400 spots.
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Getting to LHI
You can fly directly to Lord Howe Island Airport (LDH) from Sydney with QantasLink. Flight schedules change throughout the year, although there are normally at least a couple of flights each day. There are extremely strict luggage restrictions when flying to Lord Howe Island, due to the smaller light aircraft.
Make sure your checked luggage doesn’t weigh more than 14kg per bag to avoid it being off-loaded, and only bring a small handbag or backpack with you on the flight, as there’s nowhere to store carry-on suitcases. Most, if not all, accommodation around the island will pick you up from the airport, so let them know your flight details before you arrive. During the peak seasons there are also semi-regular flights from Brisbane and Newcastle airports.
Getting around the island
Bicycles are the main form of transport around the island, which can be rented from Wilson’s Hire Service for $10 a day. The island is quite hilly in places though, so consider where you’re staying if you’re planning to rent a bike. There are about six automatic rental cars on the whole island that can also be organised through Wilson’s, although you will definitely need to book in advance for these.
In the evening, your accommodation courtesy bus will drop you off for dinner and the restaurant’s courtesy bus will take you back when you’re done. Sometimes your courtesy bus may be an elderly lady accompanied by a very fat pregnant poodle, but hey, a ride is a ride right?!
What to do on LHI
Jump on a glass-bottom boat tour with Lord Howe Environmental Tours to explore some of the epic reefs that lie in the lagoon. Stopping at a couple of different spots, including Erscotts Hole, you’re sure to see some of the most beautiful marine life, including turtles and reef sharks. The tour goes for two hours and is a great way to see the best spots in the lagoon.
Another great spot for sea turtle sightings is Upper Settlement Beach, especially around an hour before high tide. There’s plenty of seagrass here for them to feed on, so you can often spot them nibbling on a snack in the afternoon.
Pop into The Crooked Post for an afternoon cocktail on a swing. In the mornings this place doubles as the local physio, transforming into the local cocktail bar in the afternoons. Try one of their signature cocktails, often made with Lord Howe Island gin or come down for lunch on Taco Tuesday to grab a quick taco, they’re absolutely delicious.
Kayak to Rabbit Island (also known as Blackburn Island), a small island right in the middle of the lagoon. You can rent a kayak from many of the boat shops on the shore, hike to the top of the island, and check out a different perspective of the island and the lagoon, right from the middle of it.
Feed the fish at Ned’s Beach, one of the prettiest little beaches on the island. You can buy a cup of fish food at the little information hut on the shore, and there are always fish swimming around there just waiting for a snack. You can also go snorkelling right off the beach, there are often turtles spotted out here.
Enjoy a game of golf at one of the prettiest golf courses in the world, the Lord Howe Island Golf Club. Dotted with palm trees and with the twin peaks standing tall in the background, it’s definitely a picture-perfect place for 9 holes of golf. Reserve a table for dinner at the golf club before you leave, it’s definitely one of the best meals on the island.
Get to know the island better by hiking around it. There are plenty of walking and hiking trails that offer unique viewpoints and perspectives of this magical little oasis. Some of the top choices include Malabar Hill, Kim’s Lookout, Valley of the Shadows and Goat House Cave.
Mount Gower in particular, one of the main two peaks overlooking the lagoon, is rated as one of the best day hikes in Australia. Covered in rainforest, with a cloud forest near the top and epic views across the island from the summit, it’s a highlight for anyone who tackles it. You’ll need a guide for this one, check out local Jack Shick who has been a mountain guide for more than 30 years and knows everything there is to know about this epic hike.
Hop across the best beaches on the island. From the calm bays of Old Settlement Beach and the Lagoon Beach that are perfect for snorkelling, to the epic Blinky Beach with huge surf breaks, there are so many great little spots if you really get out and explore.
Jump on a bus tour with Chase ‘n’ Thyme Island Tours, proudly the first tour on the island to be inducted into TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame. Locals Peter and Janine take you on a tour of Lord Howe, sharing some of the island’s history, favourite landmarks and stories from growing up on the island.
Best photo spots: For the most iconic views over the Lagoon Beach and the famous twin peaks of Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird that stand tall over the water, head to Signal Point, only a few metres from the main beach.
Where to stay
To avoid having to ride up a steep hill every time you need to go back to your room, choose accommodation as close to the main corner (Ned’s Beach Road and Lagoon Road) as you can. The Blue Lagoon, Somerset Apartments, Pine Trees and Beachcomber Lodge are all in a great spot, making it easy for you to go back and forth from your room to the beach whenever you want.
When to visit LHI
January to March are considered the best months to travel to Lord Howe Island, when the weather is a little bit warmer, there is little rainfall and you can take advantage of all the water sports and activities on offer.
Due to its location in the sea it never gets very hot on the island, with temperatures normally averaging about 25°C in the summer months, although it can be extremely humid at times which can make it feel a LOT hotter than it actually is.
The main street of Lord Howe Island
Important travel tips
There is absolutely no mobile phone reception on the island. Like, not one bar. In fact, the locals don’t even use mobile phones, and some of them don’t even own one! You will need to make reservations via the land line phone at your accommodation. It’s a good idea to make your reservations as early in your trip as possible to avoid missing out, as everything on the island has limited places. There is also a free public phone near the information board in town if you need to make reservations.
There is some wifi across the island, mainly at your accommodation, although it can be patchy depending on the weather. Double check with your accommodation that wi-fi is available if you need it during your stay to avoid disappointment, or completely immerse yourself in island life with a few days off the grid. There is public wi-fi in the main street of town that costs $10 per GB, and it can also be dependent on good clear weather, so it’s best not to rely on it.
Such an incredible island, a visit to Lord Howe Island is completely different to a stay on any other island in Australia. It’s such an incredible island to disconnect and completely unwind for a few days, leaving you feel refreshed and rejuvenated before you arrive back on the mainland and return to normal life.
For everything you need to plan your ultimate island getaway to Lord Howe, head to lordhoweisland.info and check out @visitlordhoweisland on socials for all the best secret spots around the island.