Thanks to summer, warmer weather and the holiday season fast approaching, it’s the perfect time of year to start planning an island escape. We’re pretty dang lucky to have some of the world’s most beautiful islands right on our doorstep, so why not make the most of them? This week I’m featuring two Australian island getaways, to give you some travel inspiration on where to visit.
The good people responsible for the tourism of Lord Howe Island have chosen a simple yet effective slogan, ‘Just Perfect’. Ahhh yep, pretty sure that sums it up, guys! This beautiful part of Australia is World-Heritage listed and is less than a 2-hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane, making it easily accessible. With its perfect white sandy beaches, incredibly rich natural beauty and stunning blue water, Lord Howe Island is a must-do island escape this summer.
Things to do
This 875-metre tall natural beauty is Lord Howe’s highest mountain and, coincidentally, is one of Australia’s best day walks. Take on the challenging eight-hour return trek, which comes with rope-assisted climbs and knee-knocking drops, taking you across 14 kilometres of terrain. The best viewpoint is, of course, right at the top of Gower’s peak, offering 360-degree views of the island and its incredible beaches.
Walk straight into the picture-perfect water at Ned’s Beach on the island’s northeast and you’ll find yourself surrounded by fish including mullet, garfish, silver-drummer, wrasse and King Fish. It’s the perfect spot for kids to learn about sea life and also the perfect spot for snorkelling or hand-feeding the fish. Masks, fins and snorkels are all available for hire by way of ‘honesty box’ donation at the beach.
With some of the best diving in the world available, you should definitely take advantage of the incredible reef ecosystem at Lord Howe Island. There are some 60 dive sites around the island, including the world-famous Balls Pyramid, the world’s tallest Sea Stack which is home to huge schools of Violet Sweep, Rainbow Runners, Marlin, Dolphin, turtles and wahoo as well as being the only place where Ballina Angelfish can be sighted scuba diving.
Other dive sites include Erscotts Hole and Commets Hole, both with stunning coral gardens and teeming with fish and sea life. There are two dive operators on the island and you can hire all the gear you need from them.
With ten regularly surfed waves available, of varying sizes, there’s something for everyone. Lord Howe pics up powerful groundswell from the Southern and Pacific oceans making it a great place for surfers. While wind and tides play a factor, there’s usually always somewhere that’s offshore. You can bring your own board or find one available for hire from the local surf shop in town. Just be warned, the paddle out to some of the best spots is up to 1km.
Given Lord Howe Island is World-Heritage protected, means it has a healthy marine ecosystem and protected breeding grounds in remote locations. Take a charter boat out on a fishing trip to the Admiralty Islands, South West Bank, Balls Pyramid and other ‘secret spots’ known only to locals.
Hire bikes and ride along picture-perfect coastal roads or take in a game of lawn bowls. If you’re into something a little more adventurous, take in a spot of kiteboarding, windsurfing or maybe a leisurely afternoon of stand-up paddleboarding, play a round of golf or hire a yacht and go sailing.
For photo-nerds like me, you’ll be spoilt for choice with so much beauty in the landscape, wildlife and beneath the water. If you’re especially interested in bird photography there are plenty of opportunities to photograph beautiful birds in flight or in the local surrounds. The stunning beaches and mountains will also offer great opportunities for dawn or sunset photographs. Even if you’re not an experienced photographer, what better place to practice?!
Get your hands on a good book and a good cocktail, find a patch of beach you like the look of and just unwind. Swim in the beautiful water lay in the sun and let your troubles melt away in this beautiful part of the world.
Where to stay
For the perfect Lord Howe Island holiday stay at Pinetrees Lodge, one of the oldest family-run businesses in Australia who have lived on Lord Howe Island since 1848, making them experts!
There’s a great range of rooms to choose from, starting at standard en-suite rooms and luxury Garden Cottages right through to a 1 bedroom suite and series of 3 and 4 bedroom cottages for families. Accommodation is single storey with access to the dining room, lounge, bar, day spay, verandah, tennis court and waterfront deck. All of the rooms have been refurbished in 2014, so they have a new, modern feel without losing the island charm you look for on an island escape.
If you’re looking for good food, Pinetrees have you covered, offering incredible breakfasts, lunches and dinners every day from wonderful chefs using fresh, local produce. Chefs use fresh local seafood and other local quality ingredients to create delicious meals to suit those with dietary requirements. If you’re in the mood for sweets, specialised pastry chefs prepare scones, cakes or pastries every afternoon, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee and to recount the day’s activities.
Abundant breakfasts are kicked off with fresh fruit, yoghurt, cereal and home-made bread and followed up with your choice from the daily menu. For lunch, get your hands on a packed lunch full of delicious local produce and take it to one of the idyllic barbecue spots on the island. The best bit? Your takeaway lunch is at no extra cost!
Pinetrees Lodge is the perfect place to stay on Lord Howe Island for an incredibly relaxing island escape, giving you access to stunning scenery, pristine beaches and beautiful wildlife.
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