With its spectacular mountain scenery, coral reefs, migratory birdlife and native species found nowhere else on earth, Lord Howe Island – a two-hour flight from Sydney – could well be the ultimate holiday destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s the type of island where you’ll get more wear out of your hiking boots than your sequin Camilla, and you’re more likely to spot a rare seabird than an Instainfluencer. It’s a laid-back island that feels undamaged by the modern world – where a push bike is the main mode of transport, and tourist numbers are limited to 400 people at any one time. If you love walking, snorkelling and exploring nature, you’ll probably love Lord Howe Island as much as I do!
Hike Malabar Ridge
For incredible views of the entire island, the Malabar Ridge trail is hard to beat. The track starts just before you hit Ned’s Beach – (not super easy to find, as it’s a little tucked away). It then climbs up the hill, along the wooded ridge and finishes on the cliff edge. You’ll want to take a moment to watch the seabirds wheeling around their nests, before continuing along the ridge to Kim’s Point (named after Kim Morris who died in a plane crash in 1967) and then it’s down the steep Memorial Track to Old Settlement Beach.
Visit Old Gulch and the Herring Pools
It’s a tough walk to Old Gulch, but totally worth the hundreds of steps! Starting at Old Settlement beach, take the steep path up Memorial Track, then down through the palms to North Bay. From there, it’s an easy walk to Old Gulch. The little cove itself is tucked in behind Mount Eliza and popular for snorkelling if the the weather is calm. At low tide, follow the rocks around to the pretty tidal pools, known as the Herring Pools, on the eastern side of the inlet.
Snorkel at Ned’s Beach
When the southerly winds blow, Ned’s Beach is the place to be. It’s a popular spot to picnic and a great place to snorkel – right off the beach. Grab a bag of food to feed the greedy fish, bring a surf board or just chill on the grassy slope.
Picnic at Old Settlement Beach
Old Settlement Beach lies at the northern end of Lagoon Road. It offers rocky coves to get out of the wind as well as barbeques and sunny spots to read, snooze or watch the incredible birdlife.
Visit Balls Pyramid
Balls Pyramid is a massive sea stack that rises out of the ocean like a mystical monolith (or a James Bond bad-guy lair – depending on your point of view). It’s a one hour boat ride from Lord Howe and absolutely unmissable. Make sure you book the snorkelling add-on. You won’t be disappointed!
Cycle over Capella
A push bike is the standard mode of transport on Lord Howe. For a spectacular bike ride, it’s hard to go past the southern end of Lagoon Road. Follow the road over the hill at Capella, through farmland, to the start of the Mount Gower track. Leave your bike at the end of the road and continue through the Kentia palm forests to the beach at Little Island. Just stunning!
Walk to Mutton Bird Point
Mutton Bird Point is a peninsular that juts into the sea on the east of the island. Take your binoculars to see the enormous boobies that nest on the grassy slopes. It’s a bird lovers’ dream.
Watch the sunset over The Lagoon
The west-facing lagoon means you’ll get a stunning view of sunset from anywhere along this stretch of the island – a real treat for east coast Australians!
Admire Mount Gower
It goes without saying that hiking up Mount Gower is a right of passage on a visit to Lord Howe Island. The eight hour hike is tough and unrelenting, and impossible to do if it’s wet or too windy. If (like me) you don’t feel the need to risk life and limb while on holidays, it’s possible to just admire this 875m mountain from sea level! But if you’re keen to do the hike, book well in advance.
Stay at Pinetrees Lodge
With a laid back vibe that is perfectly in keeping with the island itself, food that you’d be lucky to get in a restaurant in the city, and staff who’ll pack a picnic or drop off ingredients for a barbeque at your favourite beach, Pinetrees Lodge is my pick of the places to stay on Lord Howe. Just make sure you book your accommodation well ahead!