Tucked in the Tasman parallel to Port Macquarie, Lord Howe Island is something else. Falling under New South Wales’ governance, the island is only a short flight from the East Coast capitals but has a particular je ne se qua that makes you feel worlds away. If you’re dreaming of an island escape sans smartphones and weekday worries, leave your concerns on the mainland and make your way to what is arguably the best kept secret in the Pacific.
The subtropical paradise that is Lord Howe Island appears almost untouched to the eye, and for good reason. Its World Heritage status means eco-tourism is serious business: only 400 tourists are permitted onto the island at any given time, giving it an air of exclusivity as well as a charming community feel. With no mobile or television coverage, Lord Howe offers the chance to truly switch off. The secret to island life is simple: shoes off and smiles on.
At just 10 kilometres long and one-and-a-half kilometres wide, what the island lacks in size it more than makes up for with boundless unspoiled scenery and an extensive menu of activities for every type of traveller. One of the island’s most fascinating features is the "honesty system" many businesses employ, akin to a roadside fruit stall you might stop by as you cruise through the countryside. If you’re up for a round of golf, a game of bowls or even a coldie at the end of a gruelling day lapping up the blissful Lord Howe lifestyle, a friendly contribution is all that is required.
The pace of the island is laissez-faire to say the least. Here, you are encouraged to channel your inner (more modern) Robinson Crusoe and explore the island in a manner of different ways: lace-up your hiking shoes and climb Mt Gower, hire a bicycle and trace the windswept coast, or make your way to the water’s edge where aquatic activities are just as diverse as they are back on dry land.
From the remnants of an underwater volcano to the southernmost coral reef in the world, the pristine waters enclosing Lord Howe Island are the ideal playground for those who don’t mind being seated in the splash zone. Scuba dive or snorkel among vibrant undersea vistas – coming face to face with hundreds of specious of curious marine life – join a fishing charter and reel in a winner, or spend your days surfing, kayaking or simply soaking in the sun.
Your to-do list on Lord Howe is likely to feature healthy measures of time spent sprawled on the hot sand, indulging your senses with a spa treatment, trekking the island's twin peaks and having your fill of fresh seafood as the sun slinks away from the vantage point of your ocean-view lodge. Clean, green and listed by National Geographic as one of their "50 Places of a Lifetime", these attributes add up to an Australian island getaway without equal.