Lord Howe is a crazy, one of a kind, absolutely breathtaking island. I had so many unique experiences here that I’ll never forget. It’s no wonder that many people want to keep this small Pacific island a secret. At just over 10km long the ex-volcanic landscape features rocky mountains, coral reef, rainforest, white sandy beaches and birds with huge personalities. Such a diverse combination of environments makes it one of the most unique places in the world, enough so that it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As well as being a natural haven for birds, Lord Howe is a paradise for humans too.

I’ve been to Lord Howe twice and have spent over a month exploring its nooks and crannies. Even though it’s only a small island – about 10km long and 14.55km^2 in area – it’s packed with brilliant things to do. Access to the island is by plane from Sydney, Port Macquarie or Brisbane. It lies about 600km east of the Australian mainland, with a plane trip of just under two hours. Less than 400 tourists are allowed on the island at any one time. This strategy keeps environmental impact low, whilst providing a better tourism experience for everyone. Here is my ultimate list of everything to do on Lord Howe Island!


I hope you like hiking! To see the most stunning parts of the 10km long island you’re going to need some hiking shoes. The 10 hour Mount Gower trip is easily one of the best outdoor experiences in Australia. Be prepared to push yourself – this Island has a volcanic past so the terrain is mountainous. Alternatively there are more leisurely walks to enjoy, like Lagoon Beach and Old Settlement Beach. My favourite hike on the island is the track up to Malabar Hill and Kim’s Lookout.



You’ll be able to take amazing photos at Lord Howe whether you’re using an iphone or a DSLR. Landscape, nature, wildlife, underwater, astrophotography, selfie and surf photography are just some of the specialities to be delighted in. I spent every day exploring with my camera at the ready! There’s a  magnificent view around every corner. Because the island is in the middle of the ocean the weather can change pretty quickly, which is fantastic for timelapses and dramatic conditions. Some of my favourite photos from the island were captured during storms. Rain, hail or shine you’ll be able to take awesome photos on Lord Howe Island too.

Balls Pyramid Boat trip

Nothing is more enchanting and intimidating as a giant volcanic pyramid in the middle of the ocean. We took a 4 hour nature sightseeing tour with Dave Gardiner on the Greenback boat. I had one of the best mornings of my life! I have to stress that it is not for those with weak stomachs – looking through the camera viewfinder is a challenge in the open ocean conditions… But any sea sickness is well worth it. Circumnavigating Balls Pyramid and the main Lord Howe Island is a once in a lifetime experience. We saw flesh footed shearwaters, providence petrels, masked boobies (yes, that’s the name of a real bird) and Galapagos sharks on the tour.

Watch 64,000 Petrels Return to Their Burrows

The birdlife on Lord Howe is famous around the world with over 150 bird species recorded. Endangered and endemic species are on every corner of the island. The most popular time to go birding (also known as ‘twitching’) is from November to January when several seabird species are nesting. However, I went in winter to see the providence petrels which are found nowhere else in the world. Visit Little Island at sunset to see them return to their nests, from March to October. Even if you don’t like birds you can still appreciate their comical squawking cackle – just don’t get too close or they might peck you. They are strange. They have a strange way of landing too; crashing down through the palm trees. I was surrounded by petrels a few times. Apparently my goretex running shoes make petrels hungry – good pecking material!

Feeding Fish by Hand at Ned’s Beach

Who knew feeding fish could be so fun? All you have to do is step into the shallows of Ned’s beach to meet a variety of beautiful reef fish. There are some colourful fish, some greedy fish, and some that are just HUGE! I went a few times because it was so enjoyable watching them swarm around my legs. They made me feel very popular. I wish all fish were like the fish at Ned’s Beach. 

Digital Detox

This could turn out to be a blissful or horrific experience depending on what type of person you are. There is no mobile reception, and the internet services available are expensive and not worth it. No uploading selfies to instagram – the horror! I recommend taking a digital detox. It was liberating being able to completely ignore my email inbox for a week! You can still make phone calls to the mainland using the payphone on the main street or at your accommodation. Just make sure to tell friends and family beforehand or they’ll probably file a missing persons report.

Snorkelling in the Lagoon

The most southern coral reef in the world is full of life. You will find Nemo and Dory here – and many of their friends! I would recommend this as more of a summer activity but there are still organised trips in winter if you want to go diving. I saw parrotfish, Galapagos sharks and even a sea turtle! 


On any of the beaches you can find coral, shells and starfish. I love beachcombing so Old Gulch and Lagoon Beach were especially fun and nostalgic. There’s plenty of fascinating creatures to find in the rockpools at Middle Beach (go at low tide). I wouldn’t recommend taking things home – remember that this is a World Heritage Area! I saw some people trying to shove rotting sea urchins into their bags. Probably not the best idea!

Eat out, or have a BBQ by the beach

For most of the trip I cooked using the apartment kitchen and only went out a few times. It all depends on your budget. The Coral Cafe at the museum has wonderful slices, the muffins and bread at the Anchorage are great, and the fresh fish from Greenback’s Eatery is perfect for a BBQ by the beach. I heard from locals that the Bowlo (Bowling Club) does nice dinners. Otherwise Joy’s Shop has the best grocery selection.

See the Sunrise and the Sunset over the horizon

I love Lord Howe Island because you can walk to one side for the sunrise and then see the sunset on the other! Waking up early is so worth it on Lord Howe! If you live for the golden hour then this is the place for you.

Swimming, Surfing and Kayaking

Any of the main beaches are a great place to relax and take a dip. I’m not really a beach person – I like photographing them though! Anyways, there are a few hire services to get water sports gear like kayaks, boards and snorkels. Blinky Beach is the best place to go surfing, with solid swells coming from the Pacific. Ned’s Beach has equipment hire services.

Ian Hutton Lecture at the Museum

Ian Hutton is the resident naturalist of the island and holds lectures about birdlife, plants, history and geology. I would recommend it to really appreciate the nature of the island. I went to the bird lecture with some friends and learned about how the providence petrels rear their chicks. The museum also has plenty of resources about Lord Howe’s history and nature.

How to get Around

Most people ride bikes on the island but it’s also possible to just walk. I hired a bike for a few days from Wilson’s Hire Service. If you’re visiting restaurants for dinner your accommodation will organise transportation by car, just make sure to book it in the morning.

Plan Your Trip

I would recommend spending about a week at Lord Howe to experience the things from my list. If you’re a more relaxed traveller you might want to do 2 weeks. Check the Lord Howe Island Tourism website for deals! A few more experiences were recommended by locals – Ron’s Ramble and the Glass Bottom Boat tours. Try to book things ahead of time! Things like the Mt Gower hike are quickly booked out.