‘I’ll take TEN kilos off for your RED hair,’ the baggage handler announced as I stepped on to the scales clutching my hand luggage. Just as well, I thought, sneaking a peek at the reading. Boy, were those scales defective, or WHAT?!
Luckily, the scales faced away from the crowds at the airport – who was going to believe that my bags were full of Ununoctium – heaviest substance on earth?
I was about to leave Lord Howe Island – sub-tropical wonderland, nature-lovers nirvana and paradise on a stick. And where every holiday comes with a kilo-killing combination of walking, cycling, hiking, swimming and more walking!
There aren’t many other options on a mountainous sub-tropical island with only a few kilometres of road, hardly any cars, masses of walking tracks and hundreds of bicycles!
And the awesome, staggering view of THOSE mountains wherever you go …
Spending a week in paradise is easy! Finding things to do on Lord Howe Island is easy too!! What’s NOT so easy is fitting it all into 7 days that’ll pass WAY too quickly!!
So use my 7 days in paradise suggestions as a guide – then tell me what YOU did there in the comments below!
Day 1: Lord Howe Island Highlights
As we landed, the killer cross-winds, stormy weather and other climatic extremes that sometimes stop planes from landing* were thankfully absent.
Just as well – there’s not much room for error on the small airstrip bisecting the narrowest (and flattest) part of the island between the ocean and the main road!
After disembarking and taking the first of what would become several thousand LOTS of photos of THOSE mountains, our accommodation host Jim** took us on a quick tour of the island’s highlights, including stops to stock up at a) the general store; b) the liquor store; and c) the BAKERY!! YESSS!!
After settling in, we climbed Transit Hill to the lookout overlooking THOSE mountains, followed by the first of MANY sunset shots – LHI is the only place in NSW where the sun sets over the sea!
While there’s no obligation to follow our Day 1 itinerary, chances are your first day on LHI will closely resemble this one – although Transit Hill could easily be replaced by what’s close by and what interests you.
Day 2: A Day on the Beach!
Spending a day on the beach on Lord Howe Island is easy. But deciding which beach on which to spend it could be tricky!
The rocky beaches down south near Little Island give way to the longer (and less visited) stretches of Salmon, Kings and Johnsons Beaches along Lagoon Road. Further north, there’s a barbecue and picnic area at Cobbys Corner and the beach has an awesome view of THOSE mountains!
Lagoon Beach is protected by the reef – hire snorkelling gear; or a kayak to paddle across the bay to Blackburn island. There’s a picnic spot at the southern end of the protected Old Settlement beach, and it’s either a long walk or a boat ride around to North Beach (see Day 7 below)!
Combine surfing with plane-spotting at Blinky Beach near the airport, or take the steep climb down to Middle Beach, off the track to the Clear Place Lookout.
Popular Neds Beach at the north-eastern corner has picnic facilities, a shelter shed, snorkel and boogie board hire and spectacular views. Feed the fish, explore the rocks or check out the bird life – if you’re a twitcher***, you won’t be disappointed!
Day 3: Kims Lookout Circuit Hike
If you’re one of the several billion people on earth who are a) less acrophobic; b) fitter; and c) more masochistic than me, you’ll probably opt for the guided Mt Gower walk, a 14 km 8 hour marathon from sea level to the top of the 875 metre high peak.
But vertigo is my real enemy – and I’d seen the hiker grab rope high above the sea nailed to the towering cliffs, and the LOOOOOONG exposed ridge leading to the summit so I wasn’t going to inflict my fears on a group of total strangers.
Yes, the word you’re looking for is ‘magnanimous’! Which beats the hell out of ‘cowardly’, ‘gutless’ or ‘s**t-scared’!
The 7 km (4.3 mile) Kims Lookout circuit hike starts at Neds Beach. Climb to the top of Malabar Hill (look out for the Catalina Crash memorial) where cliffs plunge down, WAAAAAY down, to the sea and the view is fine over the Admiralty Islets, Neds Beach and on a clear day, Balls Pyramid (see Day 4 below)!
Follow those same plunging cliffs west – don’t lose your footing while watching the Red-tailed Tropicbirds – to Kims Lookout and the panoramic view overlooking most of the island.
Return via the Max Nicholls Memorial Track to Old Settlement Beach, then hike back to Neds Beach. Happily, the Anchorage Café en route might have been built for intrepid hikers in need of food and drink before completing the circuit!
Day 4: Balls Pyramid
Getting to the world’s highest volcanic rock stack means a boat ride around the island, followed by an 23 km run across a deep sea trench that makes the voyage REALLY rough. NOT suffering from seasickness is a bonus – on this tour, my iron gut well and truly made up for the crippling vertigo (see Kims Lookout above)!
I could go on and on about this awesome tour – and I did!! Read all about our Balls Pyramid Adventure right HERE!!
Day 5: World Exclusives Day
Balls Pyramid isn’t Lord Howe Island’s only world exclusive experience on offer – finding a few more is ridiculously easy!
One of 5 birds endemic to the island, the Lord Howe Island Woodhen is hard to miss with its strange, honking cry – once nearly extinct, it’s found around the island. Which also makes this the only place in the world with a road sign warning of their presence (see 2nd photo above).
The cliffs above Little Island, down the southern end at the start of the Mt Gower track, are the only known breeding colony of the Providence Petrel (March to October). And those same cliffs have the world’s largest natural rock cross – although it’s easier to see from Thompson Memorial Park further north.
Head that way and pass through the golf course – the only one anywhere in the world in a World Heritage area! Out in the lagoon there’s the world’s southernmost coral reef.
See the Lord Howe Island Phasmid – once thought extinct until re-discovered on Balls Pyramid in 2001 – there’s a couple of specimens on display in the Visitor Centre and Museum.
While Kentia Palms are now found in gardens and dwellings throughout the world, Lord Howe Island is the only place to see them growing wild in their natural habitat. There’s also more than 50 other endemic plants.
Then there’s the Scenic Public Loo … (see below)
Day 6 Boat Harbour and Mutton Bird Point
Walk through spectacular rainforest and mangroves to the rocky beach at Boat Harbour. If you’re up for a steep, rope assisted climb, take a detour from the top of Smoking Tree Ridge to Goat House Cave like I didn’t (see Day 3 where I also didn’t do Mt Gower).
From Boat Harbour, follow the coastal track around to Mutton Bird Lookout at Mutton Bird Point for spectacular views across to Mutton Bird Island! Bet you can’t guess what you’ll see there!!
Day 7 North Bay
Start the day with a Glass-Bottom Boat Tour over the reef and into North Bay. Take a picnic lunch and disembark at North Beach to explore the wild and spectacular north-western end of the island.
There’s a short walking track to Old Gulch, and a longer, MUCH steeper one to Mount Eliza’s 147 metre summit with amazing views along the north coast and down to THOSE mountains.
The Max Nicholls Memorial Track climbs steeply up to the Dawsons Point Ridge, then descends steeply down to Old Settlement Beach. Take a detour to the Catalina wreckage.
With any luck, tonight will be Pie night at the Bowling Club, or Pizza night at the Anchorage Cafe – the perfect ending to a week in paradise!
But remember – tomorrow you’ll be standing on those defective airport scales like I did. Why? Because a smallish plane on a smallish airstrip can only carry a certain amount of weight for a viable take-off. So if passengers + carry-on luggage + cargo weigh too much, some of the cargo gets left behind!
That’s when that 10 kg discount will REALLY come in handy!
Lord Howe Island Fast Facts:
- Where is it? 700 km (~420 miles) north-east of Sydney
- How big is it? 1455 hectares; about 11 km long, and 2.8 km across at its widest point.
- How do I get there? QantasLink flies direct from Sydney or Port Macquarie. Contact Lord Howe Island specialist travel agents for more details.
- When to go: Anytime! Temperatures average 19 – 25° C in summer, and 13 – 18° C in winter.
- Getting Around: The main method of transport is walking or cycling – bicycles and helmets are readily available for hire. There are a limited number of vehicles for hire.
- Things to Do: See above!
- Accommodation: All tourists must book accommodation with their flights. There are about 400 tourist beds available in a range of accommodation types including units, apartments and cottages.
- Food: Bring your own food by all means, but it’s part of your 14 kg checked +7 kg carry-on baggage allowance! Groceries are available, and there are a range of dining options including cafes and restaurants.
- Communication: No mobile phone coverage! But there ARE public phones and some internet access.
- Lord Howe Island Official Website
- My 1st visit to Lord Howe Island
- My Lord Howe Island Triathlon
- MORE Lord Howe Island Photos on Flickr!
* At the end of our holiday, we kinda wished bad weather would stop our flight out from arriving 😀
** We stayed at Waimarie Apartments in the middle of the island on both our visits to LHI
*** Actually, if you’re a twitcher, you won’t need this guide at all – you’ll end up visiting all the LHI hotspots anyway, although you might not actually see the scenery because those darned birds keep getting in the way!
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