• Coastline Peaks, palms and pristine beaches
  • Coast life The life aquatic

With its soaring volcanic peaks, turquoise lagoon, unspoilt beaches and rare plants, birds and marine life, ruggedly beautiful eco-retreat Lord Howe Island should bring out your inner David Attenborough.

This crescent-shaped South Pacific sanctuary, 700 kilometres north east of Sydney, is only 11 kilometres long, 2.8 wide and is bordered by the world’s most southerly reef. With just 350 locals, and visitor numbers restricted to 400 at any one time, you’re almost guaranteed to have one of its seductive beaches all to yourself. So whether you’re into swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving, or more mellow boating, birdwatching and bushwalking, this subtropical paradise should feel like your own personal Garden of Eden.

Do go/Don’t go

September to May has the best beach weather, with water temperatures hitting 25 degrees from February to April; cooler days from June to August attract hikers and an older crowd. Lord Howe Island has a perpetual spring climate, though, so any season is a good time to visit.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Unless you’re a seafaring Smith with your own yacht, the only way to get to the island is by air. QantasLink (www.qantas.com.au) operates a 32-seat Dash 8 service from Sydney most days, and from Brisbane on weekends. A seasonal weekly service is also available from Port Macquarie from February to June and September to December. Flight time is two hours (it’s the closest island getaway to Sydney) and the 14kg luggage allowance is strictly enforced.
  • Automobiles Walking or cycling is the best way to get round the island, but you can rent a car from Wilson’s Hire Service if you prefer four wheels to two (contact michele.wilson@bigpond.com).
  • Taxis There are no cabs on Lord Howe, and not many regular cars, but your hotel can help with transport (most offer airport transfers). Packing tips Binoculars for close-ups of rare birds, hiking gear, and a pair of old trainers for reef-walking.