With its roots deep in British seafaring and convict history, this small island about halfway between Australia and New Zealand punches well above its weight when it comes to the most laid-back of holiday destinations.
Exploration and relaxation are the watchwords on an island where the pace is slow, the scenery superb, the beaches sandy, the surrounding waters crystal clear, the fringing reef teeming with life, the accommodation excellent, the food delicious, and the locals warm and welcoming. Norfolk Island is proud of its reputation as a first-class destination and its community has worked hard to preserve its natural beauty and fascinating history. It shows.
Swim at protected Emily Bay, find secluded bays and beaches, snorkel, take a fishing trip, wander the countryside, walk the botanic gardens, picnic at Captain Cook’s Monument, explore the history … in many ways Norfolk is a living museum.
You will meet direct descendants of the Bounty mutineers led by Fletcher Christian who settled Norfolk after moving from Pitcairn Island. The Bounty story is told in the Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama, a striking visual and audio exhibit, housed near the popular Pitcairn Settlers Village.
Earlier, Norfolk served as a penal outpost and that convict past is tangible in the superbly preserved World Heritage-listed Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area.
Eat and Drink
Much of the restaurant action is in the main centre of Burnt Pine and, as you might expect, seafood features highly on Norfolk Island menus. The favourite local fish is trumpeter and you will find it alongside crab, prawns, mussels and other shellfish.
As well as the harvest from the sea, Norfolk is efficient at being self-sufficient and nearly all fruit and vegetables served in its restaurants are grown locally. For a unique experience, the Norfolk Blue Restaurant and Bar is the only place in the world for a paddock-to-plate taste of Norfolk Blue beef.
For something completely different, the theme dinner at the Bounty Lodge Restaurant links traditional Polynesian cuisine with Pitcairn and Norfolk Island heritage.
Where to Stay
With such a heavy emphasis on tourism for the health of the local economy, it is small wonder Norfolk Island offers such a diverse range of accommodation to suit taste and budget. There are more than 60 places to stay, ranging from fully serviced hotels and lodges to self-contained cottages, villas and apartments.
Certain bookings come complete with a rental vehicle to make it easier to get around. Price rather than location tends to be the key issue; the compact nature of the island means it’s easy to explore. Note, you must book your stay before arrival on Norfolk. It is an immigration requirement.
It comes as a pleasant bonus: much of the shopping on Norfolk Island is free of mainland sales and other taxes so your (Australian) dollar goes a little further.
The commercial heart of Norfolk Island is Burnt Pine and both sides of Taylors Road are the focus of the retail action. You will find a range of specialty shops and galleries selling fashion items, shoes, arts and crafts, jewellery, surf wear, photographic equipment, gifts and souvenirs – the key souvenir emblem is the Norfolk Pine.
When you tire of shopping, Taylors Road also plays host to plenty of places for a coffee or a meal. It is also the site of an open-air market on Sundays.
Norfolk Island Like a Local
You might be puzzled if you hear the words Whutta-waye? but that’s because you don’t speak Norfolk. The official language might be English, but the islanders have their own language, derived from a mix of Bounty mutineer English and Tahitian from the mutineers’ wives and originating on Pitcairn in the 1790s.
While they speak perfect English, they do use the language when speaking among themselves. Whutta-waye? Don’t worry, you are not being insulted. The rough translation is “How are you?”.