What to wear, places to go and unmissable experiences on Lord Howe Island, Australia.
When I’m invited away on a travel assignment to photograph a destination the pace is go, go, go.
The fast speed is not exactly ‘normal holiday mode’, though what it gives me is an exclusive insider’s view of the ‘behind the scenes’ of a destination.
The best light at certain times, secret locations and insider tips.
Which is pretty exciting, like a fast track way to discovering the unmissable experiences of a place – and that’s what I want to share with you, so you can hit the ground running and not miss a thing.
I headed over to Lord Howe Island with my husband Timothy O last month to shoot this story.
Here is my ‘Insiders Guide’ to Lord Howe Island.
What to Wear on the Island
For Lord Howe Island I packed easy and uncomplicated pieces. It’s a physical island, you will be walking, cycling and swimming, so pack accordingly.
The mood of the island is relaxed and low-fi, so think thongs or sandals and running shoes.
Whenever I go somewhere tropical I always wear white shirts. Here’s a little secret for you-
Tip: the light reflects off your white shirt and back up into your face, giving you a glow and filling your ‘laughter lines’. Trust me, it works.
So, my key travel pieces for this trip were all white linen – my smock and some new palazzo pants which I’m testing out (and loving), my rust silk scarf and my trusty flat tan sandals, for all that running around.
And don’t forget to pack your hat and sunscreen.
You don’t need your passport, it’s in New South Wales!
Lord Howe Island is a crescent-shaped volcanic remnant in the Tasman Sea, which sits between Australia and New Zealand. It’s 600 km directly east from Port Macquarie in New South Wales.
Getting there is easy as, via a 2 hour flight from either Sydney, Port Macquarie or Brisbane.
For plane travel I always wear my Signature palazzo pants, because they are lightweight and comfortable (thank you elastic waist).
Tip: Be sure to get a window seat to take in the vast blues below as you fly over the ocean.
The Low-Down, Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island is a tiny island, and offers the luxury of pure escapism – you can totally disconnect and immerse yourself in the natural experience, as there is no internet coverage to distract you. Love that!
The population on Lord Howe is tiny too, 382 people call Lord Howe home and they also cap the number of tourists to only 400 at any one time to preserve the Island’s precious natural environment.
The World Heritage Listed island is enclosed by a southern coral reef … and a shallow coral reef in the middle of the Pacific Ocean means one thing – waves. Lord Howe picks up powerful groundswell from the Southern and Pacific oceans throughout the year.
It’s a naturalists paradise where you enjoy the simple pleasures of life. The luxury is disconnecting and being close to nature – think barefoot and sea breezes, not high heels and air con.
The island is also very family friendly and there is something for everyone. My experience was a ‘luxury low impact’ adventure. You can scale mountains or relax by the water.
Where to Stay
I stayed at Capella Lodge. It is Lord Howe’s luxury boutique accommodation on the west coast of the island.
It’s the only accommodation on the island which faces both the ocean and the mountains. The vista takes in the sheltered aqua coral reef lagoon and the twin peaks of Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower.
There are only nine luxury suites, so it feels very intimate and private while you are there.
I arrived just after lunch and threw my bags in my pavilion at Capella Lodge, then headed into the landscape.
I always like to get a feel for the area and understand the ‘lay of the land’ as soon as I arrive, so I don’t miss any shooting opportunities for the next day.
The island has long been recognised for its pristine natural heritage, around 75% of the island is permanently preserved as a marine park and subtropical rainforest. How great is that!
Where to Eat
If you’re staying at Capella Lodge then you are in for a real treat. The food is phenomenal and wholesome.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner, all taken care of and prepared for you. They have a regional approach to sourcing their ingredients, with lots of fresh produce from Lord Howe and New South Wales.
I would recommend ordering the BLT sandwich from the restaurant for lunch and sitting on Gowers Terrace while dangling your legs in the infinity pool and taking in the vista. Ahhh.
The general stores on the island offer lots of grocery supplies and snacks too.
Sunrise at Lord Howe Island
Sunrise would have to be my favourite part of the day and on Lord Howe experiencing a special morning like this starts the night before.
Tip: Make sure you leave the curtains open before you go to sleep, so you wake up to a beautiful sunrise view.
Raw unspoilt nature as far as the eye can see.
Also, remember that on Lord Howe the sun rises particularly early.
Don’t linger too long in bed – throw on your clothes and get out the door to head to Blinky’s Beach for the morning light.
It’s the island’s best east facing beach and it’s perfect to catch the morning light.
I walked into a breeding population of seabirds nesting – Sooty Terns for the birdwatchers out there.
With the prehistoric view of Mount Gower behind me, the birds soaring high in the sky and then diving down, I felt like I was in a David Attenborough documentary.
Truly not to be missed.
On Lord Howe getting around is very easy. You can either walk or I would recommend riding a bike.
You can hire a car, you just can’t go faster than 25km p/h. I went by bicycle which was supplied by Capella Lodge and had the best time, and a few near misses, but that’s half the fun!
You are able to see and do a lot of things, as Lord Howe is such a small island.
Snorkel, Swim and Feed the Fish at Ned’s Beach
At Ned’s Beach you can get up close and feed the fish in the clear calm aqua water.
I was expecting tiny fish, but they were rather large. Eeek – I warned you!
You can hire snorkels and fins from the shed by throwing a couple of bucks in the honesty box. How great is that – old school and charming.
You can also put some dollar coins in the fish food dispenser (a modified gumboil machine) to feed the fish.
Tip: This is best to do at low tide and remember to bring some dollar coins for the fish food and honesty box.
Have a BBQ on the Beach
Barbecuing is a ‘thing’ on Lord Howe, there are BBQs scattered all over the island, all in pristine locations.
There aren’t too many places to eat on the island, so this makes the ‘ol barbecue a very popular activity.
We decided to go to Ned’s Beach for a BBQ so we could see the fish at the same time.
Tip: Make sure you reserve a BBQ by throwing a beach towel over it first thing in the morning, so you’ll have it to come back to later, or you might miss out!
Capella Lodge arranged a BBQ pack for us, however you can head to the island’s general stores to pick up bits and pieces.
Take a Boat Trip
There is nothing better than getting out on the water when you are on an island.
We chartered a boat and went out on a scenic tour with easy going Captain Dave Gardiner and his wife Glenys from Fish Lord Howe.
Dave offers lots of experiences to take in the underwater beauty and wildlife of the area. The marine life includes sharks, dolphins, flying fish, whales, turtles and the seabirds.
Dave is also a photographer, so he knows the best spots and the best times of the day to view them. Legend!
Tip: To book a tour you can head to Lagoon Beach in ‘town’ and walk into Dave’s boat shed. Easy.
Catch the View at Sunset
This view is everything!
The view looking into Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower is best at sunset. Everything is glowing with golden light, even the cloud forrest on top of Mount Gower glows as the sun slips away.
This is when you’ll experience the real prehistoric feel of the island, like a lost paradise that time forgot.
Mount Gower is Lord Howe’s highest mountain, a challenging 8 hour return trek if you are up for a day trip. It is the iconic landscape of the island, breathtaking in its immense presence.
Just make sure you are back in time to look at it at sunset and admire the moment, it won’t last long. The best things never do.
Tip: The best place to enjoy the view is from land at Capella Lodge or down the road at Salmon Beach.