Lord Howe Island is a subtropical island found 500 km off the coast of New South Wales. Lord Howe and the jagged pinnacle, Ball's Pyramid nearby, are remnants from a huge and ancient volcano. The island is surrounded with crystal coral reefs, fringed with sandy beaches and crystal blue waters. About two-thirds of the island is stamped with lush rainforests and Kentia palms, banyan trees, pandanus, and soaring forest-clad mountains. Lord Howe Island was World Heritage Listed in 1982 because of its rare flora and fauna and its extraordinary natural beauty.
The island was first sighted by Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball on his way to Norfolk Island in 1788. The first settlement on the island in the 19th Century supported itself as a supply point for ships in the whaling industry. As the whaling industry declined, the inhabitants searched for a new source of income – which resulted in cultivation of the native palm they used to thatch their houses – the Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana)
. Along with a successful tourism industry, Kentia Palm export has made Lord Howe Island famous throughout the world.
The half-moon shaped island is only 11km long and most facilities, accommodation and restaurants are clustered around the small township. Most visitors choose to hire a bicycle for the duration of their stay and it's a great way to get around. There are 17 accommodation choices ranging between 4.5 star to budget style apartments and cafes and restaurants for those dining out.
Self-guided, well-marked walks zigzag across the island with many points of interest along the way – huge figs trees, the rare Lord Howe Island woodhen, a shipwreck, rock pools, mutton-bird colony, shearwater nests and fabulous scenic views. The most challenging of these walks is Mount Gower which must be done with a licensed guide through rainforests, cliff hugging tracks and up rope-assisted steep inclines. Snorkelling and scuba-diving among the 400 different species of fish, surfing on Blinky's beach, reef kayaking, swimming at Old Settlement Beach, wildlife watching and fish feeding at Ned's Beach are some favourite activities. Take a cruise around the island or to the coral reef at Erscott's Hole in a glass bottomed to see the most southern-most coral reef in the world.
Lord Howe Island is the perfect family holiday choice. There are no snakes, stingers or sand flies. The weather is temperate, but it can change rapidly as the island is very exposed to the elements. A two hour plane flight will get you there from Sydney, Brisbane, Port Macquarie and soon Coff's Harbour. However you do need to pre-book accommodation before you go, as island visitor numbers are strictly monitored.
Things to do
Walk and Climb - the short and long walks all over the island including the coastal Track to Rocky Run and Boat Harbour, Mt Eliza for spectacular views, Transit Hill and Malabar or Mount Gower (Grade 10) for the adventurous
Swim - at the many beaches and swim with turtles at Sylph hole
Feed the Fish - at Ned's beach each morning or afternoon
Snorkelling and scuba diving - on the coral reef and take a dive off Ball's Pyramid
Lagoon kayaking - for exotic marine life and reef walking
Golf - at Mount Lidgbird for views of the Pacific Ocean while you play. Tennis courts are also available.
Surfing at Blinky Beach or Middle Beach
Cruising - in a glass-bottom boat over Erscott's hole and reef for snorkelling or viewing. Sail around the island at sunset or take a half day or full day cruise
Fishing - take a fishing charter for Wahoo, Kings, Trevally, Job fish, Tuna and Cod fish (best from November to May)
Bird Watching - see bird colonies at Mutton Bird Point, Mt Eliza, Mt Gower or in the banyan forests. During season, watch the flocks of shearwaters shearwaters return to their nests at Ned's Beach after a day's fishing. There are Emerald Rock Doves and Providence Petrels, Red-Tailed Tropicbirds, Masked Booby, Sooty Terns and many more more
Wildflowers and Palm Nursery - best seen in Spring/Summer for the Pumpkin tree, lowland Bush orchid, Mountain Rose, Giant Heath (endemic) and Pandanus Tree. Visit the Kentia Palm Nursery to discover how the was first palms were cultivated
Scenic flights - in a Cessna 172 over Lord Howe and Ball's Pyramid
In the area
Ball's Pyramid - a jagged basalt pinnacle rising from the Tasman sea. Do a dive in waters around this pyramid or take a scenic flight over it