I can’t imagine there are many places on Earth quite as magical as Lord Howe Island (LHI). On our flight to Sydney from Los Angeles, we were the only two people making the connecting flight to LHI. Most Americans have never heard of the island, and most Australians outside of New South Wales haven’t either. Only 350 people live on the island and only 400 tourists can be there at time. At times, you can have a whole beach to yourself.
There are very few cars on the island and most people get around by bike. It’s a carefree way to live. After eating breakfast every day, we’d get our bathing suits on, put on our sunscreen and bike helmets and away we’d go for the day to go explore. And that’s truly what you do on this island is explore.
The first day we tackled Ned’s Beach (and every day after that) to go feed the fish. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but there were swarms of fish at the beach. There were colorful wrasses and parrotfish, sand mullets, kingfish and double headers. Two days in a row we saw a Galapagos reef shark, one of the fastest fish I’ve ever seen. For a $1 AUD you can buy fish feed out of the machine and hand feed the fish. We went to the south end of the beach to where the rocks were to find more colorful fish hiding under the reef rocks.
We spent some time at Old Settlement Beach at high tide to try to find the sea turtles that come in. There was one paddling around by some snorkelers. I waded out into the water to go view first hand and be able to say I swam with a sea turtle. They are quite graceful, occasionally coming up for air with a pfffff sound as he exhales and inhales before sinking back down again.
Our second day, we rode our bikes to the Middle Beach trailhead and took the trek through the trees, past the cows and down the cliff side to find ourselves standing over Middle Beach. Again, another pretty secluded beach full of coral, different types of shells and sea glass! I reminded Blake at the time something that my mom has told me to do when you find yourself in a beautiful place. Stop, bask in the beautiful place you are, and remind yourself that you are currently the only person on Earth taking in this view right now and experiencing it. It is an amazing thing to do.
We took our bikes at dusk one evening to go sit at Blinky Beach and drink our honeymooners’ champagne at ironically the beach with what the locals on the Lord Howe website call “champagne surf.” The sooty terns were nesting on the dune below our bench with their chicks; the parents occasionally flying high into the sky. The smell of the birds was a bit overwhelming on the walk down to the beach, but not so bad from above them on top of the dune. As we drank our champagne, in front of us appeared the most amazing full rainbow I’ve ever seen, and behind us a sunset for the record books. The rainbow reached from the edge of the ocean all the way over to the cliff to our left.
On another bike ride we found ourselves at Lovers Bay, clearly at high tide with a forceful wind that made my hair stand up straight. We sat on the rocks watching two kite surfers whipping over the waves. Once back on our bikes we went to the airstrip and watched a QantasLink airplane take off. This might sound mundane, but you’ll quickly learn that planes taking off and landing on the island is quite a spectacle as there is no air traffic control and the airstrip is only a kilometer long.
We hiked half way up Malabar trail one morning before only getting about half way and turning around. With Blake’s fear of heights, it was a bit close to the cliff edge, and with it being a bit “blowy” we decided to turn around. My goal was to be able to see the edge of island on the south end where Mt. Gower rises up out of the ocean and I was able to do that from only half way up.
Lord Howe is like no other place. With very few cars, and mainly bikes on the road, you start to recognize people as you travel around and have the urge to wave at everyone. As there is no crime on the island, there are no keys to the resort room doors, and the sheriff’s main job is to make sure you’re wearing your bike helmet. We wished we could have spent more time here experiencing the magic of it all as there were more beaches to see and more trails to hike. We will be back some day, and next time we’ll be there for a longer stay.