May 18, 2017
Lord Howe is a small tropical island that, due to some magic of weather and currents, exists well south of the tropic zone. Except for the two huge monolith mountains on its south end and a couple smaller mountains to the north, it’s an island of low hills. The vegetation is lush and varied: palm and banyan trees co-exist with tall columnar pines. There are forests, flowering vines, and sweeping areas of mowed lawn. There’s also a turquoise lagoon, coral reefs, tropical fish, and beautiful beaches.
Inland, a narrow blacktop road winds through the island. Small resorts and houses, limited in size and height, lie tucked into the vegetation and mostly out of view. This leaves all the viewing areas (and there are many) accessible to everyone, and access is encouraged with lawns, sitting benches, bike racks, and–at some of the beaches–bbq grills stocked with wood for cooking a picnic meal.
There’s a central restaurant, the kind that’s open all day and into the evening and has internet access. There’s also a well-loved cafe at the very impressive little museum. Otherwise you can book a meal at one of the small resorts that dot the island or buy food from one of the small markets.
Although it’s possible to rent a car, most visitors travel by bike or on foot. Quite deliberately there is no cell phone service as this is a place that encourages people to relax and unplug from the world. If you want to book an outing or make a dinner reservation, there are free public phones scattered throughout the island. The locals also enjoy the more peaceful way of life that comes with not being tied to an ever-present cell phone.
As far as the locals, the number of people who can live here is strictly limited–you pretty much have to be born here or have close relations to reside here. The number of visitors is also strictly limited; so the island is never crowded, even during high season. It also means there’s more than enough work for the locals, and guest workers come in to take temporary jobs and enjoy a taste of the life here.
Overall, this place has a certain kind of affluence, not the mega-bucks kind but the kind where people have enough of what they need. Many of the jobs are part time, and residents can take more than one if they wish. People here have an enviable lifestyle, and they know how lucky they are. They seem particularly happy, helpful and friendly–this place definitely has a small town feel. Guest workers also feel lucky to get the chance to be here (wistful at the knowledge that their time here will have to end), and visitors seem very relaxed and happy.
While it’s a very laid-back place, I wouldn’t call it sleepy because there is so much available to do. There are hikes at all levels, beaches, snorkeling, diving, fishing, golf, lawn bowling, various tours and outings, and a couple of very nice day spas. The museum has frequent evening presentations, and the resorts have special meal nights. We’ve been here more than a week and still there are lots of things we haven’t done (and sadly probably won’t get to do–we’ll just have to come back!).
Finally, Lord Howe is about as beautiful as any place on earth can be. (If you want to see for yourself, just check out Google Images.) It’s a paradise not known to many people outside of Australia yet must be booked ahead (I’m guessing well ahead). We would urge anyone traveling to Australia to consider a side trip here. And for a honeymoon, this is ideal! In all, I’d say this is one of the most magical places we’ve been in our 5 years of cruising.–Cyndi
Below, a few photos from our time here (click to enlarge/scroll).
More on Lord Howe Island…