Lord Howe Island Activities
Worth getting out of bed for...
- A gruelling eight-hour round-trip hike will take you to the top of the island’s highest peak, Mount Gower. Your reward? Views of the island and Ball’s Pyramid, the world’s tallest sea stack, 26 kilometres offshore. If that sounds too strenuous, try the two-hour return walk up to the lookout tower on Transit Hill for 360-degree views. From Clear Place, an hour-and-a-half round-trip, you’ll also get a glimpse of Ball’s Pyramid.
- Arts and culture
- Ogle the skeleton of an extinct giant horned turtle at the must-see Lord Howe Island Museum (www.lordhoweisland.info/museum.htm), which has quirky displays on the island’s history and World Heritage-listed environment, as well as a shop and café. Go potty for fronds at the Kentia Palm Nursery (02 6563 2161), which offers an hour-long tour every Friday at 10.30am giving the inside track on this endemic species, now exported worldwide. Pick up an original souvenir at Ginny’s Shed, which sells bold island-inspired tropical prints on calico by local artist Ginny Retmock (02 6563 2076).
- Something for nothing
- Grab some stale bread and head to Neds Beach where you can hand-feed the metre-long kingfish, wrasse and silver drummer that are ever-present in the shallows. This feasting frenzy is not to be missed.
- Save your shopping dollars for the mainland. There are only two general stores which sell basic supplies and a liquor store on Lord Howe. Larrup’s on the main street sells surf gear and accessories and some swimwear.
- When the waters are calm, go fishing around the striking sea spire Ball’s Pyramid, south east of the main island, which is the best place to catch large (and tasty) green-backed kingfish. Marine Adventures runs day trips for AU$200 a person (www.marineadventures.com.au).
- Best beach
- The island’s 11 beautiful beaches are often deserted so you can play castaway with your other half. Lovers Bay is a secluded cove perfect for snorkelling or watching the sunset with a view of twin peaks Mounts Gower and Lidgbird. Neds Beach and Old Settlement Beach are also ace for snorkelling. Surfers in search of breaks should head to the outside of the coral reef bordering the lagoon (hire boards on the island).
- Perfect picnic
- Many of the island’s beaches have picnic tables and wood-fire barbecues, so take your pick from seductive shoreside spots. Shopping Save your shopping dollars for the mainland. There are only two general stores which sell basic supplies and a liquor store on Lord Howe. Larrup’s on the main street sells surf gear and accessories and some swimwear.
- The island is criss-crossed with trails of varying grades, all of which are well signposted with approximate trek times. Malabar Hill and Kims Lookout is the most popular walk. During the five-hour round-trip you’ll not only have cor-blimey views but you may also see red-tailed tropicbirds doing their back-flip mating dance (September to May).
- The island’s sheltered lagoon is ideal for kids to paddle or swim in; sea kayaking is also easy and fun, and snorkelling here is like swimming in a tropical aquarium that’s dotted with colourful coral. Many local walks are child-friendly and kids should go gaga for the brilliant bird and marine life.
- Lord Howe is a great spot for budding Jacques Cousteaus to flex their scuba-diving muscles. Pro Dive (02 6563 2253) offers daily boat dives including Ball’s Pyramid, weather permitting, with regular introductory dives and open-water scuba courses. If you’re not a diver then glass-bottom boat or snorkelling tours are operated by Lord Howe Island Environmental Tours (02 6563 2326).
- Lord Howe is Australia’s top twitching destination, with 14 species of sea birds breeding here as well as over 130 other species of winged wonders, including the oddly named muttonbirds, sooty terns and masked boobies.
January The height of summer sees lots of sea bird activity, with many species either laying or hatching their eggs. Loads of the island’s flowers are also in full, fragrant bloom. February Colourful coral spawning adds to the underwater thrills. March Witness squillions of providence petrels arriving for their winter breeding season. They wander around the island as though drunk, toppling over and allowing humans to pick them up. October Catch the finish of the Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race (www.gosfordsailingclub.com.au), and the red-tailed tropicbird doing its bizarre breeding dance.