10 reasons to make Lord Howe Island your next getaway destination
Explore a picturesque paradise
New South Wales' idyllic paradise Lord Howe Island was last week ranked the world's fifth best region to visit next year by Lonely Planet in its new publication, Best In Travel 2020.
Just 11km by 3km, the crescent-shaped, Unesco World Heritage-listed island is the ultimate getaway, with fine weather and just 400 visitors allowed at any time.
With the world's most southerly coral reef on its doorstep, its spectacular twin peaks and peaceful lush forest walks, Lord Howe Island will take your breath away.
Here are the top 10 reasons to visit next year, according to Destination NSW.
1. World-class mountain hiking
It is not for the faint-hearted, but the one-day hike to Mount Gower (875m) is considered one of the world's best climbs. The guided, eight-hour return, class 5 walk provides some of the island's most rewarding experiences, including seeing rare flora and encounters with Lord Howe's famous woodhen.
2. Diving right in
Tropical and cooler waters collide in the ocean around Lord Howe, resulting in the world's southernmost reef, 90 coral species, green and hawksbill turtles and 500 species of fish - perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling. More than 60 dive sites lure divers of all skill levels. Local operators offer diving courses while glass-bottom boat tours are another option.
3. Cruise to Ball's Pyramid
Twenty-three kilometres to the south of Lord Howe Island is a spectacular 550m spearhead of grey basalt that seemingly explodes from the ocean. The world's largest sea stack is home to extraordinary bird life and the waters surrounding Ball's Pyramid are teeming with marine life.
4. Big-game fishing
Lord Howe is a top destination for big-game fishing for yellowfin tuna, wahoo, marlin and more. The island's abundant waters are home to more delicious catch including whiting, trevally, bonefish, Australian salmon, spangled emperor, bluefish and wrasse.
5. Bird watching
With 14 species of seabirds breeding on the island, Lord Howe is Australia's premier bird-watching destination. It has more than 130 permanent and migratory bird species, including the woodhen. In the winter, the island is a breeding ground for providence petrels that wheel in the sky in huge numbers.
6. Awe-inspiring accommodation
Guests seeking the ultimate immersive experience can stay in the Arajilla Suite at the five-star Arajilla Retreat and soak up the serenity of the surrounding rainforest from a private deck. There is also the Lidgbird Pavilion at Capella Lodge, an all-inclusive double-storey apartment featuring panoramic views of the ocean, mountains and subtropical rainforest. Sumptuous ground level living blends seamlessly with the private outdoor lounging area and private plunge pool.
7. Feeding the marine life
Neds Beach is known for the colourful fish and occasional turtles that inhabit the crystal-clear waters. Just wade in and hand-feed mullet, butterfly fish and stingrays, or snorkel the shallow reef to see giant clams and corals.
8. Boarding a wave at Blinky Beach
Have you ever dreamt of catching a wave without the hassle of competing with a crowd? The unspoilt white sand beach known to locals as Blinky's has some of the best breaks on the island.
9. Famous Fish Fry Buffet at Beach House On The Moon
Available for only two nights a week at the restaurant, this dining experience is renowned among locals and travellers alike, and is a must for anyone staying on the island on Monday or Friday evenings.
10. A round of stellar golf
Originating from a market garden in 1969, the course has been developed and expanded into one of the most picturesque and challenging courses in Australia.
From the shadows of the imposing Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower, it meanders through the lushly vegetated Kentia Palm forest out into the gently undulating open fairways along the ocean foreshore providing golfers with many challenges.