Lord Howe Island, New South Wales

Originally recommended by a colleague, my plans to visit Lord Howe Island came into fruition when I won a pair of return domestic flight tickets to and from anywhere in Australia. I was tossing up between going to Broome or Lord Howe Island, and with the travel time from Sydney to Broome via Perth being well over a 12 hour journey vs. a two hour journey from Sydney to Lord Howe Island, Lord Howe Island easily came out on top. And although Lord Howe Island is only a couple of hours away from Sydney and still in the state of New South Wales, it can still be a rather pricey trip with return flights coming in at well over $1,000 a pop so it made sense to make the most of the winning tickets in this way.

With dramatic rocky coastlines, turquoise coloured waters and lush greenery covering the island, the views while flying onto the island was like watching a scene out of Jurassic Park – but even better seeing it in real life vs. a digital screen.

Views of the dramatic coastlines whilst flying onto Lord Howe Island

A bird’s eye view of the turquoise waters of Lord Howe Island, if you look closely you can see a couple of shipwrecks on the right

Lord Howe Island airport

Lord Howe Island airport

We arrived at Lord Howe Island airport just after midday and was greeted by Julie from Ebb Tide Apartments, where we would be staying for the next four days. Being a remote island with no Internet or phone connectivity, accommodation amongst other things, does not come cheap, but I was stoked to come across the self-contained apartments at Ebb Tide near Ned’s Beach at a reasonable price at under $300/night. Julie took us on a brief tour around some of the main parts of the island before taking us to our accommodation.

L: Fresh paw paw available for breakfast at Ebb Tide Apartments | R: Unripe bananas on the tree

L: Fresh paw paw available for breakfast at Ebb Tide Apartments | R: Unripe bananas on the tree

A White Tern sitting hiding out under a tree during the rain

A White Tern sitting hiding out under a tree during the rain

As we arrived at our apartment, the sky began to darken and rain started to fall. We had plans to hike up to Malabar Hill that afternoon, but decided to wait it out for a little bit and for the rain to stop. As soon as it did, we were on our way and walked down to the beach on Lagoon Rd to check out the views of Mt. Gower and Mt. Lidgbird from the beach before heading up to the top of Malabar Hill.

Looking over to Mt. Gower and Mt. Lidgbird

Looking over to Mt. Gower and Mt. Lidgbird

A stroll on the beach after the storm

A stroll on the beach after the storm

A Spanner Crab hanging out on the shoreline

A Spanner Crab hanging out on the shoreline

On the way up to Malabar Hill

L: Walking through the rainforest-like setting on a hike | R: At the end of the hike looking out towards the Admiralty Islands

L: Walking through the rainforest-like setting on the hike | R: At the end of the hike looking out towards the Admiralty Islands

Watching the sunset over the ocean

Watching the sunset over the ocean

The hike itself was not particularly challenging, but since it rained a fair bit just a couple of hours earlier, it was quite muddy and slippery on the way down. Views from the top overlooking the Admiralty Islands were well worth the climb, and looking back, I think was my favourite hike from the three we did on the island.

After the hike, it was getting close to dinner time so we grabbed a couple of burgers from Thomo’s Burgers (they even had a vegan option!) before walking over to the jetty to view the sunset and jumping in for an impromptu swim. A perfect end to the first day on the island!

Day two began with cycling down to Padi to see if we could get booked into a snorkelling tour that day. As the weather was clear that morning, we really wanted to make the most of it and get out in the water before it turned again (it’s known to be pretty unpredictable on the island). If this was the only chance I got to snorkel some of the most southern reef in the world, I wasn’t going to miss out! We were successfully able to get onto a snorkelling tour which took us to three different spots and began at 1pm. As we still had a few hours to kill, we decided to go for another hike – this time up to Transit Hill before grabbing some lunch and then hitting the water.

The view from Transit Hill

A Qantas plane flying into Lord Howe Island

A Qantas plane flying onto the island

Some of the coral while snorkelling around Lord Howe Island

Some of the coral while snorkelling around Lord Howe Island

We woke up to a bright and sunny day on day three of Lord Howe Island life and decided to cycle down to The Anchorage to have coffee and breakfast before going on a hike up to Intermediate Hill. It was a fairly easy hike up and as it was such a beautiful day, we chose to continue on the trail up to Goat House Cave with another woman we met at the Intermediate Hill viewing platform.

The view from Intermediate Hill

The view from Intermediate Hill

A look at Mt. Lidgbird from Intermediate Hill’s viewing point

Looking over at Ball's Pyramid: the highest sea stack in the world

Looking over at Ball’s Pyramid: the highest sea stack in the world

The trail up to Goat House Cave was much steeper and rockier, so much that we had to use ropes to haul ourselves up and abseil down the volcanic rock cliff sides. When we finally made it to Goat House Cave, we were rewarded with some of the most spectacular views I had seen on Lord Howe Island and some of the most turquoise waters I had laid eyes on.

The view from Goat House Cave

The view from Goat House Cave

Taking a break in Goat House Cave

Taking a break and soaking up the views from Goat House Cave

Day four on Lord Howe Island was meant to be our final day, with our flight scheduled to leave that afternoon. As the weather turned the previous day (it was glorious for our hike up to Goat House Cave, but then gale-force winds blew in that afternoon) and the rain and wind continued to set in, flights in and out of the island were cancelled. It continued being miserable for the remainder of the day and the majority of my time was spent reading, editing and wandering around the local museum. Qantas put us up for another night at Ebb Tide due to the cancellation and we were scheduled to be on the same flight, the next day.

The following morning, we woke up and it was like the rain and wind we had never even happened. The wind had dramatically died down, the sun was out and the sky and water were as blue as could be. As Ned’s Beach was only a ten minute walk from Ebb Tide Apartments, I took a stroll down with my snorkel and camera in hand to get a glimpse of the famous fish that come in to be fed.

Getting up close and personal with the fish at Ned's Beach

Getting up close and personal with the fish at Ned’s Beach

Some of the clearest waters I've snorkelled in

Some of the clearest waters I’ve snorkelled in

Making friends with the locals!

Making friends with the locals!

The experience of swimming with the fish at Ned’s Beach was the perfect way to end my break on Lord Howe Island. I was stoked that our departure got delayed by a day as it was one of the things that I really wanted to do. And being immersed in crystal clear water with hundreds of fish just a couple of hours before hopping on a plane heading back to civilisation again was probably one of the best ways to go out.

Although I didn’t get to do all the things I had originally wanted to do – including hiking up Mt. Gower and spotting a sea turtle, I’ll just have to put those on the list for my next visit to Lord Howe Island. Yep, I’ll definitely be back!