Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island wears its status as a UNESCO World Heritage paradise with pride and locals go out of their way to protect it. Only 400 visitors are allowed on the treasured island at any one time to experience its unique natural attractions, which range from snorkelling to playing golf on a picturesque nine-hole course.
The pristine waters are home to more than 500 species of fish and 90 species of coral. A wonderful way to see the reef, colourful fish and turtles is on a glass-bottom boat and snorkelling tour. You can also hand-feed fish at Ned’s Beach, in a sanctuary zone where recreational fishing is not allowed.
Enjoy snorkelling in the iridescent blue playground that surrounds the island, where scores of seabirds nest. The world’s southernmost coral reef protects a crystal-clear lagoon perfect for swimming and other water sports. Plot your escape to Lord Howe to coincide with one of four Swim Weeks or the annual Summer Festival.
You’ll need a guide for the challenging day trek to Mount Gower on the island’s southern end. There are gentle walks too, such as Valley of the Shadows amid groves of Banyan trees and Kentia palms. You can also spot red-tailed tropicbirds perform their spectacular airborne courting displays on the Malabar Hill walk.
The Lord Howe Island Marine Park is one of the best diving spots in the world, with more than 60 dive sites. The underwater world around Ball’s Pyramid, the world’s tallest sea stack, is home to a coral wall with giant coral fans, as well as rare Spanish dancers and protected Ballina angelfish. Tours operate here during fine conditions.
Game fishing for marlin, wahoo and tuna is also popular, and a catch-and-release policy is encouraged. The island was discovered in 1788 by the British ship HMS Supply. To learn more about the island's history and about local charters and other tours, stop by the Lord Howe Island Museum and Visitor Centre.
Lord Howe Island is 700km northeast of Sydney. QantasLink offers regular flights from Sydney and weekend flights from Brisbane. Twice-weekly charter flights from Port Macquarie through Eastern Tour Services are also available. Places to stay range from apartments to luxury retreats, with rejuvenating spa treatments and restaurants available, too.