Welcome to my guide on the best things to do on Lord Howe Island. My name’s Jasmine from the Instagram page @jasminealley and the blog www.jasminealley.com. I grew up in Maryland but went to college in California. It was in college that I realized how much I love traveling.
One summer I spent a month in Russia teaching English and that was my first glimpse of what travel offers: new cultures, stunning architecture, foods to try, and wildly beautiful nature. I love seeing how God created this magnificent world we’re living in!
I’ve always had this artistic side to me. Painting and drawing has been a passion of mine ever since I was a child. It wasn’t until I tried my hand at photography after college that I realized this would forever be my medium of choice. I love the way you can instantly capture moments in time through photography.
Perhaps the most photogenic (and magical) place that I visited recently was Lord Howe Island. I had no idea just how much this little island would captivate my heart! I love how it promotes sustainability and eco-tourism. Since only 400 tourists are allowed on the island at any given time, there is a deliberate push to conserve the beauty of this little slice of paradise.
Lord Howe Island is an incredibly laid back, friendly and down-to-earth place. Two of my favourite pictures of the island show just how laid back this island is: you can bike everywhere and the children go to school barefoot. It doesn’t get any more free and laid back than that!
My Favourite Place on the Island: Kim’s Lookout
My favorite place on Lord Howe Island is by far Kim’s Lookout. From the lookout you can enjoy the most incredible views of the island. It requires a roughly 1 ½ – 2 hour hike which can be extended if you want a longer and more challenging walk.
You can see the Admiralty Islands (famous for their great deep diving), multiple beaches, and both Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower (Lord Howe Island’s famous two peaks). Kim’s Lookout is one of the first places I recommend everyone check out when they arrive on the island.
Magical Memories Stargazing on Lord Howe Island
Stargazing with a group of friends will forever be my favourite memory on Lord Howe Island. It all started when we decided to head to the beach by the airport, walking up a sandy path about ten minutes up a little hill.
One of my sandals broke on the way there, so I was hobbling up the path, shining my phone light on the ground to make sure I wasn’t stepping on anything. I was so preoccupied by looking down at the ground that when we reached our destination and I finally looked up at the sky, I was shocked.
There is essentially zero light pollution on the island. The stars are incredibly bright and you can actually see two galaxies (the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds) with the naked eye! The Milky Way danced in the sky. It was completely silent and my heart overflowed with gratitude at being there at that moment.
10 Best Things To Do in Lord Howe Island
Though it’s small, Lord Howe Island has no lack of things to do! Some of my favorite experiences include touring its waters on a glass-bottom boat, feeding the fish at Ned’s Beach, hiking up to Malabar Hill at dawn and stargazing at the most stars I’ve ever seen! I’ve only visited Lord Howe Island once but plan to go back someday with my husband.
1. Feed the Fish at Ned’s Beach
Ned’s Beach is a beautiful beach located on the northeast of the island. Simply buy a cup of fish food, walk into the water and feed the fish as they swim around your legs. You’ll get to see fish of all kinds including Mullet, Wrasse, Garfish, Kingfish, Spangled Emperor and more. This is certainly one of the most unique experiences on Lord Howe Island.
2. Do a Glass Bottom Boat Tour on Lord Howe Island
A glass bottom boat tour is a neat way to see the marine life underneath you. The glass panel at the bottom of the boat combined with the crystal-clear waters enables you to see all the stunning fish, coral and marine life of Lord Howe Island. We went with a company called Marine Adventures and I highly recommend them!
3. Find Sea Turtles at Upper Settlement Beach
Upper Settlement Beach is famous for its Sea Turtles that come into the shallow waters about an hour and a half before high tide. They are curious creatures who swim right by you. This beach has crystal-clear waters which makes for great snorkeling. Combine the snorkeling with the turtles and you have yourself a magical day out on Lord Howe Island.
4. Snorkel through the Beautiful Coral Reefs
Lord Howe Island is located on the world’s southernmost coral reef making it a dream destination for snorkeling. There are over 500 species of fish and over 90 coral species to discover. You should be able to encounter sea turtles, sting rays and a few other marine life creatures as well. My favourite spot to go snorkeling is at Upper Settlement Beach.
5. Birdwatch on Lord Howe Island
Many birds call Lord Howe Island home and you’ll see them everywhere! There are over 130 species of birds on the island such as Sooty Terns, Masked-eyed Boobies, and the endemic Lord Howe Island Silvereye and Lord Howe Island Woodhen. Not only will you see the birds flying around but you’ll see many birds nests scattered across the island too.
6. Hike to Malabar Hill for Sunrise/Sunset
For epic views of the island a leisurely hike to Malabar Hill is a must-do. The hike only takes around 25 minutes and the views on offer (especially at sunrise and sunset) are absolutely spectacular. I recommend arriving at least 20 minutes before sunrise/sunset to see the island in the most stunning light and colours.
7. Circle the Island on a Boat Tour
A boat tour is a great way to discover the hidden gems of Lord Howe Island. We went with a company called Reef N Beyond Eco Tours. They take you to see gorgeous sea arches and sea caves. You’ll get to see places that you normally wouldn’t see. It’s a fun day out exploring and swimming on the island. I highly recommend the tour!
8. Summit the Magnificent Mount Gower
If you are physically fit and can dedicate eight hours of your vacation to hiking then this is the ultimate adventure for you. Mount Gower is the most famous hike on Lord Howe Island. The hike is usually scheduled for Mondays and Thursdays and you are required to hike the mountain with a professional guide.
9. Go Paddleboarding in the Lagoon
Paddleboarding is a relaxing way to take in the stunning nature of Lord Howe Island. You can rent a board at one of the many boat shacks and get out on the water early in the morning for calm and clear conditions. The waters are always a strikingly clear, blue colour. It’s such a peaceful activity to enjoy on the island.
10. Deep Dive at the Admiralty Islands
Diving at Admiralty Islands is something I didn’t experience myself as I am not certified. But I have heard that it’s an amazing thing to do on Lord Howe Island. There are many rugged rock formations off of the north coast of the island that make for awesome diving. You can discover an underwater world of trenches, caves and rich marine life.
The Amazing Seafood of Lord Howe Island
When it comes to food and drinks on Lord Howe Island you’ll be spoilt for choice. Of course, the seafood here is some of the best in the world. I would recommend heading to the Golf Club for a fish fry up! It’s a great way to meet the locals while enjoying some fresh fish.
There’s also a new local speciality that has emerged recently: Lord Howe Island Gin! A local created this gin with lemons and hibiscus as the main ingredients. When I visited the island in October of 2019 it had just debuted in Australia. It’s a wonderful tasting gin that you should try.
Where to Stay on Lord Howe Island
There are two main places that stood out to me. They were Arajilla Lodge and Capella Lodge. Both are luxurious places to stay on the island where the staff know you by name and cater to your every need.
I stayed at Arajilla Lodge and it very quickly felt like home. They serve all your meals (if you so choose – you can also ask for a to-go lunch) and the food is beyond belief. It’s so fresh and crafted to perfection. Capella Lodge, on the other hand, has a small infinity pool with jaw dropping views of Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
The first thing you should know about Lord Howe Island is that you must have your accommodation booked before visiting and before you book flights. There’s actually a cut off to how many people can visit the island at any given time. You definitely want to make sure you have everything set beforehand. There’s also baggage restrictions, so pack accordingly.
When you arrive, your hotel/lodge will be the ones to pick you up from the quaint little airport on Lord Howe Island. Keep in mind that there is limited WiFi on the island. Make sure you bring little to no work with you on your vacation (hopefully that goes without saying)!
Be sure to tell your friends and family back home that you might not be able to get in touch while you’re away. All you have to do is sit back, relax and take in the natural beauty of one of the most unique and magical destinations on the planet: Lord Howe Island.