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Meet the icon: Lord Howe Island

Discover the islands of New South Wales

Meet the icon: Lord Howe Island
Jetty at Lord Howe Island, New South Wales. Image: Getty

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The term ‘paradise island’ gets bandied around a lot, but in the case of this tucked-away Pacific spot, it’s well-earned. Some 370 miles from the mainland, and just over a two-hour flight from Sydney, this little-visited UNESCO World Heritage Site is about as pretty as it gets.

High-rollers arrive by private yacht. But for some of the most Instagrammable views you’re ever going to capture, take a ride on a tiny propeller plane, and inch over to the right-hand side to catch the best panoramic scenes of Lord Howe: of its two distinctive mountains rising above a crystal lagoon and some of the state’s most beautiful sand. You need to be a little bit organised on arrival; this isn’t a spontaneous escape. Hotels need to be booked ahead of your trip — there’s no camping and only a limited number of hotel rooms. But once you’ve landed on its shores, the joy here is the simple life. We’re talking days of unapologetic R&R and a serious digital detox. Catch some rays on empty beaches, grab a snorkel and float just a few feet off the island where technicolour fish light up the waters, and stop by one of its ocean-to-table fixtures with craft cocktails and a secret garden vibe. Don’t miss a bush walk up to Malabar Hill or through the Valley of the Shadows to marvel at seabirds and the island’s unique ecology. Putting a whole new spin on remoteness is the Elizabeth Reef — the world’s southernmost coral reef — located around 90 miles north of Lord Howe, where only a handful of people have snorkelled or dived its crystal-clear seas, which are bursting with marine life.

A trip to Lord Howe Island is definitely one for your beachy bucket list.

Meet the person behind the icon: Ian Hutton from Lord Howe Island Nature Tours

I came here in 1980 and was immediately captivated by its stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity. The whole island is like being in a David Attenborough documentary. Visitors can experience all sorts of wildlife within just a 10-minute walk of their hotel — from seabirds totally unafraid of humans, to the warm lagoon teeming with marine life. There are no snakes or biting insects, the pace of life is slow, and it’s very uncrowded: the limit of 400 visitors at any one time means you can always find a secluded beach. Sit on the boulder beach at remote Boat Harbour, surrounded by rainforest and sea, and you can imagine yourself being the only person on the island.

The best spot to enjoy sunrise is Blinky Beach on the east side, but my favourite place for wildlife is North Bay which has good snorkelling, seabirds raising chicks on the beach and remote cliffs where seabirds ride the air currents. A hidden gem is the walk to Little Island at the southern end: from March to August you can experience one of the great seabird spectacles of the world as hundreds of Providence petrels return to their mountain homes. The only place in the world these seabirds breed is at Lord Howe Island.

Like this? Try these…

Cockatoo Island, Sydney
Located in Sydney Harbour and accessible by ferry or water taxi, this historically rich island reveals its past as a one-time prison island, shipyard and naval base through fascinating audio guides. Camp on this little island and you’re in for some knockout views of the harbour and the Sydney skyline from your ocean-side bed.

Solitary Islands Marine Park, Coffs Harbour
A long-time magnet for ocean lovers and the beach brigade, this marine park — from Coffs Harbour to the Sandon River mouth — has incredible ribbons of white sand, a huge diversity of sea life, close encounters with whales and dolphins, and spectacular sunrises over the gold-dusted ocean. For those seeking something more intrepid, catch a boat from Coffs Harbour and try your hand at diving and snorkelling along the kaleidoscopic reef.  

Montague Island Nature Reserve, South Coast
This wild island is home to a staggering population of gulls, crested terns, little penguins and fur seals who bake on the rocky outcrops or bob in the cool blue below. Access to the island is by boat from Narooma and, as well as day trips you can book an overnight conservation tour, with kayaking, snorkelling and whale watching all thrown in.

How to do it

Fly to Sydney with Singapore Airlines from £765pp return. Singapore Airlines offers four daily flights from London Heathrow and five flights a week from Manchester with seamless connections via Singapore. singaporeair.com