Craving a tropical getaway but stuck within NSW? There’s one place to go – and that’s Lord Howe Island!
Since Lord Howe Island reopened for tourism in October ‘20, our crews have been back and forward from the island regularly with holiday makers and brands who are craving a dose of paradise – it really is just like a tropical paradise! So what’s going on over there? What makes it such an idyllic holiday destination? We’re here with a few of the highlights.
What to do on Lord Howe Island
Like most islands, Lord Howe is a sanctuary for birds and wildlife not normally seen on the mainland. In Lord Howe’s case, 70% most of the island is a Permanent Park Preserve, so species are protected against urban development. The local wildlife is currently in an absolute boom at the moment due to the successful eradication of rodents on the island in 2019, so now is the perfect time to get out there!
Scattered around Lord Howe Island is a network of hiking trails that are truly world class. It’s out on the trails that you will enjoy the best experiences with the local wildlife (and people!), while exploring the hills and cliffs of the island. Being such a small area, you can get around most of the walks in a half day, with the exception of the Mt Gower climb. This epic walk is accessible only with a local guide (around $100), and is known as one of the top 5 walks in the WORLD! More on the Mt Gower trail later.
It’s not just the land based wildlife that attracts people to Lord Howe, the marine life has been described as an out-of-this-world experience, even better than the dive Mecca’s of the Pacific Islands and South East Asia! There are several dive operators catering for all skill levels on the island, which can be found with a simple walk down the beach and a chat. Most of the organizing is done in person on the island, with phone reception being limited to land-lines only. It’s a great excuse to get out and meet people though!
Above the water, sailing trips and of course fishing expeditions are what bring many to the island. A short hop to the South is the incredible Balls Pyramid, home to the insect known as a Phasmid (only found on this one tiny island!) Accessible only by boat, Balls Pyramid is best appreciated on a calm day, or from the comfort of our planes window. It gets rough out there!
On the island, the beaches are all worth spending a few hours at: Neds Beach is calm and protected (perfect for sun baking and chilling out), but on the right day has a great wave that rolls in from both sides. This is also where the famous fish feeding happens, which is a great way to spend an hour! Simply grab a bag of pellets (from the vending machine on the beach) and wade in until you’re knee deep. The fish know what’s up…
Our crews all love the climb up Mount Gower, and if we ever get a day off on the island you’ll find us among new friends up the mountain. Two local guides operate walks up the mountain (both are around $100), and we highly recommend going with Jack Schick from Sea to Summit Expeditions. Jack will take you right to the summit of Mount Gower, (875m above sea level) via a network of trails, ropes and small climbs. It’s not an easy climb (Grade 5), but suitable for ages 10-60 with a reasonable level of fitness. The views are truly breathtaking, and we can confirm it’s one of the best walks we’ve found while on layover. For those wondering, no, you cannot go without a guide. If you tried, you’d probably lose the trail!
Where to stay on Lord Howe Island
Tourist capacity is limited to 400 guests on the island at one time, so the 18 places to stay are regularly booked to capacity. Book a trip early, because we can’t fly to the island without booked accommodation!
All the places are good on Lord Howe. Tourism is their bread and butter, so although some of the cabins/rooms are basic, remember it’s island life! If you’re looking for true luxury, then there’s plenty to choose from, with the highlight for us being Capella Lodge. Tucked away on the far end of the island, this is one of Australia’s most exclusive luxury lodges, and makes for an unforgettable experience.
A good middle-of-the-road accommodation option is Milky Way Villas. We regularly stay with Liz, Sissy and the team there because it’s a little further out of town, and right on the access to the Northern trails. Rooms start from less than $200 a night, and include pickup from the airport.
Where to eat on Lord Howe Island
Plenty to choose from in the eats department! For breakfasts, choose from a couple of cafés on the main street, or grab some supplies and cook up your own brekky on a wood fired BBQ on the beach, or in your room of course. Dinners are a similar affair, with both the Golf and Bowling clubs offering great food and a good story or two at the bar. If finer dining is your style, The Anchorage serves up Sydney-level dining 7 nights a week. Highly recommended.
There’s a couple of general stores for supplies, so you won’t need to bring anything from the mainland – and prices are pretty reasonable when you consider Lord Howe is a tiny island over 700km offshore.
Getting to Lord Howe is a major part of the logistics, with Q-Link offering semi-regular flights from Sydney. Of course we’re biased, but we think chartering an aircraft is definitely the way to go for maximum time on the island, and the best flexibility in terms of luggage capacity and comfort.
We have private jet aircraft that can fly to Lord Howe Island, and are one of only two operators in Australia which can do it! Our Citation Mustang has the performance required to land on the short runway with space for a family of 4 and their luggage. For bigger groups, our Beechcraft King Air is the way to fly, with space for up to 9 passengers (making it extremely economical compared to the airlines!)
Pricing for charter aircraft is variable based on length of stay and aircraft required, so give the team a call for a quote on your exact itinerary. We love making truly memorable trips happen, and Lord Howe Island never fails to disappoint!!!