Nature on Lord Howe Island
Discover the exceptional natural beauty of Lord Howe Island, from the famous twin peaks and the unique plants and animals to the vivid coral reefs. You can explore the UNESCO World Heritage attractions in various ways, including walking and hiking, snorkelling and diving, and birdwatching.
The remote paradise developed from volcanic activity on the ocean floor and over millions of years a special natural habitat took shape. First discovered in 1788, the island chain’s isolation plus tropical and temperate waters created what UNESCO says is the ‘world’s most southerly true coral reef.’
An important seabird breeding ground, the area is also home to the flightless Lord Howe woodhen, once regarded as one of the world’s rarest birds. There are palms and ferns found nowhere else on the Earth, and the world’s largest stick insect lives on the world’s tallest sea stack, Ball’s Pyramid.
A delight for walkers, the main island is 11km long and 2.8km wide. The enchanting Little Island walk is on the south-western shoreline through ancient Banyan trees and Kentia palms. You can see rare Providence petrels fly around Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird from March through September.
For the famous hike to Mount Gower, you’ll need to join tours such as Sea to Summit Expeditions or Lord Howe Environmental Tours. One of Australia’s best walks, the day trek is 14km return. At the summit is the aptly named Gnarled Mossy Cloud Forest, a moss-covered twist of trees and palms.
There are more beautiful trails. On the Malabar Hill walk are red-tailed tropicbirds, known for their spectacular airborne courting displays. The two-hour return walk takes in breathtaking views over the twin peaks to the south and the Admiralty Islands to the north – a popular scuba diving location.
The Valley of the Shadows is incredible. You’ll walk through towering Kentia palms and massive Banyan trees that look as if they’re walking across the forest floor. Another delightful walk is to Transit Hill in the centre of the island for a wonderful panorama. The return walk is about an hour.
The marine park is teeming with sea life, from hawksbill turtles to 90 coral species, dolphins, sea lions, Ballina angelfish and Galapagos sharks. Loggerhead and leatherback turtles migrate through the park. In a glass-bottom boat you can explore abundant marine life in the crystal-clear lagoon.
The coral reef protects the lagoon, a perfect waterway for swimming, snorkelling and other water sports. Lord Howe is also one of the best diving spots in the world, with more than 60 dive sites. At Ball’s Pyramid the underwater world is home to a coral wall where huge soft coral fans gently sway.