Water Sports on Lord Howe Island

Home to more than 500 fish species and 90 coral species, snorkelling and diving around the colourful coral reefs in the warm seas off Lord Howe Island is hard to beat. The UNESCO World Heritage marine park is like a giant underwater aquarium. Other fun water sports on offer include kayaking, kitesurfing and stand-up paddleboarding.

The lagoon is protected by a barrier reef UNESCO says is ‘the world’s most southerly true coral reef’. Teeming with marine life, the lagoon is the perfect place to begin your aquatic adventure and is a diver's dreamscape. You can hire snorkelling and diving gear to explore on your own, or join a guided tour.

People enjoying a snorkel off Lord Howe Island

Explore the lagoon on a glass-bottom boat and snorkelling tour with Marine Adventures, Islander Cruises or Lord Howe Environmental Tours. The remoteness of Lord Howe – 700km northeast of Sydney – and the tropical and temperate waters create the unique biodiversity, which will take your breath away.

With more than 60 dive sites to choose from, Lord Howe's status as one of the best snorkelling and diving spots in the world is undisputed. Pro Dive offers diving tours, while Reef N Beyondruns eco snorkelling tours. Visit the underwater world around Ball’s Pyramid, the world's tallest sea stack, with its vivid coral wall, caves and numerous sea creatures.

Couple stand-up paddleboarding at Lagoon Beach on Lord Howe Island with Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird as the backdrop.

Other great dive spots include:

The sheltered lagoon is home to green and hawksbill turtles. Get your fish identification guide ready to tick off blue knifefish, three-banded coralfish and doubleheader wrasse, just three species amid a multitude of brightly coloured fish. A staghorn coral garden at Erscott's Hole adds to the water-coloured canvas.

Kayaks lined up on Neds Beach, Lord Howe Island

 Snorkelling off Ned’s Beachis a delight, too. Pretty coral is not far from the shore and hundreds of fish glint in the pristine waters that sparkle in the sunshine. You can wade into the waters at Ned’s Beach and hand-feed a variety of fish, including spangled emperor, silver drummer and kingfish amid the tangled branches and swaying ferns.

Kitesurfing is growing in popularity on Lord Howe Island and guides will transport your equipment. Other activities include surfing, kayaking and SUP-ing. The uncrowded waves at Blinky Beach are excellent for surfing, and the calm shallows of North Bay and Old Settlement Beach are superb for kayaking and SUP-ing.

NSW Swimming safety

Swimming safety information 

NSW has a wide range of wonderful swimming options including beaches, ocean pools, harbourside pools, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes at the bottom of waterfalls. However to ensure maximum safety and enjoyment, swimmers should follow this general advice:

Look for patrolled beaches (this is where lifesavers are on duty; you will see red and yellow flags that indicate this). You should always swim between the red and yellow flags as they mark the safest place to swim.

Never swim alone at night, or under the influence of alcohol, or directly after a meal.

Always check water depth, as rocks or trees could be submerged, and never run and dive into the water from a beach, riverbank or other surface.

Check for signs regarding advice on water conditions at your chosen swimming spot and at any natural swimming hole. Always proceed with caution as surfaces could be slippery and water conditions may not be immediately apparent; particularly if the area has recently experienced heavy rain or flooding.

Pay attention to the advice of the lifesavers and safety signs. Visit SharkSmart to understand any potential risks in the area you are swimming. 

Lord Howe Island water sport tours