Do as much or as little as you like on this unspoilt, laid-back isle.
This lush yet rugged island is a 14.5-square-kilometre speck in the middle of the Tasman Sea. Lying 780 kilometres north-east of Sydney, it’s known for its biodiversity, which ranges from abundant birdlife to incredible corals and marine animals. Check in to recently refreshed Capella Lodge to enjoy commanding views of the ocean and majestic twin peaks Lidgbird and Gower.
There are only nine relaxed-luxe suites, each with a private deck and its own hot tub or heated plunge pool. At sunset, head to Blinky Beach to watch thousands of shearwater birds return to their underground nests in the sand dunes after a day of feeding in the Pacific Ocean. Back at Capella, enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail followed by locally caught kingfish served with squash, broccolini and asparagus in nori butter sauce, teamed with a crisp New Zealand pinot gris.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its unique natural significance, all of Lord Howe Island’s treasures are within easy reach. After fuelling up on a breakfast of fresh fruit, yoghurt and muesli, set off on one of the island’s easier self-guided walks. The 1.5-hour return trip to Little Island takes you on a flat and leisurely course via Salmon Beach and subtropical rainforest to the foot of Mount Gower. On your return to the lodge, the spa beckons – the Gower’s Foot Therapy is considered the best post-hike “feet treat”.
After lunch at Capella, explore the isle’s surrounding waters and coral reef, which is home to some 500 species of fish and 90 types of coral. Pro Dive Lord Howe Island can take you on an outer-reef snorkelling tour to the base of Malabar, the Admiralty Islands and other sites. You’re likely to see stingrays, darting fish, vivid corals and, if you’re lucky, a Galapagos shark. Head back to the lodge for sundowners by the pool then retreat to the library for a talk about the island’s fascinating past and important future by naturalist Ian Hutton.
Have shakshuka with toasted sourdough and an espresso for breakfast then grab your mask, fins and bicycle (all provided by the lodge) and ride for 25 minutes, past the golf course, airstrip and “CBD”, to Neds Beach for, as one local describes it, “the best beach snorkelling in the world”. Swim in crystal-clear water with garfish, coralfish and inquisitive moon wrasse. Enjoy a post-swim beachside barbecue – Capella will reserve a picnic table for you and deliver a hamper of steak, sausages, gourmet salads and chilled wine. The perfect way to relax before your island escape comes to an end.