Lord Howe Island (LHI) is simply put, a paradise. I had heard for years how wonderful a place it was and I was always a little skeptical because I usually don’t trust people’s opinions; I like to find out for myself, so that’s exactly what I did. Flying non-stop from Sydney on Qantaslink for the bargain basement price of $900 (that’s a joke, but it really does cost that much to fly round trip to LHI), you arrive into a veritable paradise. LHI has redefined the word paradise for me in two days and has shown me what the actual definition of an island paradise is.
When most people think of paradise, they conjure up images of exotic tropical islands with nobody on them. Or perhaps it’s a place that not many people have heard of or been and the natives don’t even speak English or any language at all. However, in my experience, many islands aren’t paradises at all; they are in fact very poor and/or dirty and perhaps dangerous or outright boring. These images of paradise aren’t actually paradise to me. Lord Howe Island is paradise and here’s why.
Lord Howe Island is pristine in every sense of the word. The grass around the island is like golf course grass, well manicured and immaculately kept. The trees; palms, evergreens and others are impeccably kept and trimmed. There are 240 types of birds. There is no trash. Mobile phones don’t work and Internet is not readily available. People are as nice as humanly possible and everyone waves to one another-it’s a rule. The resorts and apartments are all fantastic. Everything is walking or biking distance from where you would stay and the beaches are tremendous. Additionally, there are plenty of hikes to give unreal views of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Island group (one of only four in the world with that distinction). Lord Howe Island is perfect.
I was very excited to arrive in Lord Howe Island and met the caretaker of my resort called Lorhiti at the small airport. It isn’t really a resort like you are thinking but that’s what they call all the hotels on the island but they are more like little self contained apartments and are quite expensive (above). Lorhiti was the cheapest place on the island but certainly not the worst, in fact it was perfect. A great location, only a few minutes walk or bike ride from town and right off the best beach on the island, Ned’s Beach.
Ned’s Beach (above and below) is spectacular for several reasons. First, it is beautiful, a natural cove surrounded by cliffs and hills. It has perfect water and looks beautiful at any time of day especially at sunset where the sunset is perfect. It also has all facilities you might need. Meaning they have snorkeling, surfing and diving equipment in a small pavilion and it is all on the honor system; the whole island is for anything rented more or less. It also has a perfect place for barbequing and fire wood all stacked up in perfect piles. It is hard to imagine a place this nice.
The island is said to have 300 or so permanent residents but many live on the mainland much of the time. The island is also limited to 400 tourists at any given time on the whole island but believe me, there aren’t nearly that many. I would say that tourists and residents in total there were 200 people on the island in total, which was again-perfect.
Lord Howe Island is also much cheaper for food and drinks than the mainland and the restaurants are fantastic. My favorite restaurant on the island and one I did eat at 3 times is called Humpty Mick’s. It is located on the main drag, if you will, across from the post office which is happy to give you souvenir Lord Howe Island passport stamps, which pleased me greatly!
The restaurants on the island operate from the resorts; each one has their own restaurant and has different menus on different nights. You must make a booking during the day so they know how much staff to use and how much food to prepare. Humpty Mick’s (above) was easy for me because it was a 10 minute walk from my hotel (although at night you must carry a flashlight to watch out for mutton birds that only come out at night and scare the heck out of you). It had delectable food each night including amazing fish and chips plus an Italian night with excellent pizza bread and pastas. It was also great for brekky and had good sandwiches for lunch.
I did also manage to pop into the Arjilla Hotel for tea and biscuits one afternoon after doing a big hike. The Arjilla Hotel goes for some $1500 a night so I wanted to see what all the hype was about. It turns out it was nothing much and I wouldn’t even consider ever paying that much for a hotel but the reason for the expensive price tag is it was named one of the top hotels for the discerning traveler in the Asia Pacific region and has a famous spa…who knows.
The hike I did was awesome. I was very lucky because I timed it really well. The weather on LHI changes in an instant from gorgeous sun to heavy rain without warning. The hike I did up to Malabar Hill and Kim’s Lookout was incredible for the best views of the cliffs and of the island as a whole for the full 20 square kilometers or so of it. It is a pretty steep climb and you must walk through one of the many cow fields to get up to the jungle where you trek through to get up. Once up at Malabar hill it is an up and down 1.1km walk to Kim’s Lookout, named so after a 20 year girl who passed away in the 60’s and loved that viewpoint.
After the amazing views, it is a steep walk down and very slippery if wet to the settlement beach and the beach walk back to town. I couldn’t recommend the Malabar Hill hike and up to Kim’s Lookout enough. It is the most popular hike on the island and one that shouldn’t be missed.
There are a few other hikes on the island including up to the top of the 875 meter Gower Peak that towers over the island. The only issue with this is that it is apparently an 8-9 hour time commitment taking all day. Also, you need to hire a guide and the weather can really determine whether you have a good experience or not. If I had more time I would have waited for a great day to do it but didn’t trust the rain and opted against it. I made the right decision because the day I would have done it, I would’ve gotten soaked!
I am not sure exactly what else to say about LHI except that everything is amazing and perfect. They even have a golf course that they somehow fit onto the island tucked around the twin peaks at the bottom of the island. I checked it out but didn’t play. The island also has plenty of nice viewpoints marked with benches and parks around the island. You can walk everywhere although many choose to hire bikes. There are only 6 rental cars on the whole island and they are very unnecessary.
I only hope that one day I can return to Lord Howe Island. It is the kind of place you could spend a few weeks on holiday. A true paradise in every sense of the word. Some people consider it the most beautiful island in the world. They may be right, it is certainly one of my top destinations and as far as islands go, it is right up there with Easter Island, Fernando de Noronha and a few others as my all time favorites. Next time you are in Sydney, Brisbane or Port Macquarie, try and make it out, it’s worth it!
I am currently on the plane back to Sydney for another night and full day in one of my favorite cities and then off to Norfolk Island tomorrow late afternoon. Check back with me soon!