‘Paradise’ is a word often used to describe World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island, which sits in the Tasman Sea, less than two hours’ flight from Sydney or Brisbane. Only 400 visitors are allowed at any time, bicycles are the best way to get around and there’s no mobile phone reception. Walk the white beaches, snorkel the world’s southernmost coral reef and hike through palm forests to the top of Mount Gower. Leave modern stress behind in this natural paradise, while still enjoying modern comforts such restaurants, day spas and luxurious accommodation.
You won’t see any power lines or high-rise buildings on Lord Howe island, which is just 11km long and 2.8km at its widest. Birdsong fills the clean air and lush mountainous terrain rises up all around you. Only 300 people live here permanently and the charming village is just one street. With cars restricted, bikes are the best way to get around the island, most of which is protected as marine park and subtropical rainforest
Forged millions of years ago through submarine volcanic activity, Lord Howe’s remarkable eco-systems include unspoilt white beaches and an aquamarine lagoon bordered by the world’s southernmost coral reef. Wade in off the beach to snorkel with bluefish, angel fish and rainbow-colored parrot fish and enormous coral in blue, green, yellow, red and purple. Further offshore are more than 50 scuba diving sites teeming with green turtles and colourful fish and coral. The other side of the island is popular for surfing and fishing, and at low tide you can hand feed fish from Ned’s Beach.
Inland, the island is dominated by the volcanic peaks of Mt Gower and Mt Lidgbird. You can scale Mt Gower on a gruelling guided day hike, which includes a rope-assisted climb at the summit. There are also many gentler trails weaving through the scenery. Hike through kentia palms to Malabar Hill, where cliffs plunge to the ocean. Meander to Transit Hill for panoramic views over the island or walk further to Blinky Beach, beloved by locals for its ‘champagne surf’.
The island’s rare and thriving flora and fauna includes 64 unique species of flowering plants and more than 130 bird species. Spot the flightless woodhen, an endangered species unique to the island. Watch red-tailed tropic-birds court each other with backward somersaults and wind along the cliffs past huge colonies of sea-birds. Norfolk Island pines grow around the lagoon shore and you’ll find luxuriant ferns and beard-like lichen in the misty forest atop Mt Gower.
As well as luscious nature, Lord Howe Island has a scenic golf-course, day spas for pampering and a range of dining and accommodation options. Feast on freshly-caught fish beneath the palm groves or enjoy boutique-farmed meats and locally-grown greens at the island’s upmarket restaurants. At the end of the day, stay in a luxury lodge, oceanfront apartment or a resort with all conveniences.
This natural paradise is perfect whether you’re looking for a romantic escape, a getaway with friends or a fuss-free family holiday. Did someone say paradise?