How exclusive could it be – how precious – to know that you are one of just 400 visitors allowed on this World Heritage-listed jewel of the Pacific at any one time? Forget the cell phone, the tablet and the laptop. This is a place to recharge the internal batteries. Mobile technology has no place here — one of the world’s best-kept island secrets just two hours’ flying time from the east coast of Australia.
Lord Howe is all at once about taking a deep breath, about stunning scenic beauty, about relaxation, about nature, about walking, about swimming, about snorkelling, about fishing, about surfing, about diving, about bird-watching, about doing a lot, or, simply, doing nothing.
Lord Howe Island is primarily a natural wonderland – a place to make the most of a love of the environment. It is a haven for bird watchers and walkers, with the one-day guided climb to the top of iconic Mount Gower regarded as the island’s most challenging and rewarding hike. The views from the summit are sensational. Less hardy walkers take in the track from Ned’s beach to Malabar Ridge and beyond to Kim’s Lookout.
You can swim or feed the fish at Ned’s, snorkel in the lagoon, body surf at Blinky Beach and dive in the marine park. There are more than 60 dive sites regarded as world-class, including Ball’s Pyramid, the world’s tallest sea stack (but note, this is one for the more experienced).
Eat and Drink
Yes, there are restaurants and cafes, but don’t expect mainland fast food giants or bouncing pubs. First-class dining is generally attached to the key resorts with the emphasis on Australian and international flavours and – as you would expect – the freshest local seafood. The best takeaway is available from Thompson’s Store, with breakfast as well as lunch and dinner at the Anchorage restaurant.
Eat in or out: Fin’s Kitchen provides delivery or take-away sashimi, sushi and cook-your-own barbecue packs. Top restaurants include the Pandanus, Pinetrees and Arajilla resorts, premier “hook to table” fish restaurant Greenback, the two-nights-a-week Beach House on the Moon, and the Sunset Grill at the golf club.
Where to Stay
There are only 400 beds available to visitors at any one time but that “restriction” is what makes Lord Howe so special – you will always find space to either relax or make the most of the island’s natural attractions. That said, it means you must book your accommodation before you arrive.
A limit on the number of beds is in no way related to the levels of comfort, even luxury, on offer. There is a wide range of accommodation options catering to different budgets and need, from fully serviced, high-end lodges and retreats to self-catering apartments, cottages and villas. The island is so small that price rather than location is usually the dominant consideration.
There are no shopping malls or store-lined streets here, but that adds to rather than detracts from the ambience. If you must indulge in some heavy retail therapy, shop ’til you drop in the main access ports of Brisbane, Sydney or (seasonally) Port Macquarie before you head out to Lord Howe.
You will find local produce, groceries and confectionary at the Lord Howe Island Co-operative and Joy’s Shop, bakery and other items at Thompson’s Store and The Butcher the Baker, giftwares, clothing and accessories at the Beach Boutique, Abemama and the gift shop at the local museum.
Lord Howe Island Like a Local
Forget peak-hour traffic. There are cars, but the pace is slow and the preferred method of getting around is either on foot or by bicycle. Many of the resorts will throw in transport to and from a restaurant for dinner, and even supply bicycles for getting around during the day. If pedalling is not your thing, don’t worry, much of the island is easily accessible on foot.