You’ll feel like you’ve entered another realm when you touch down on UNESCO World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island, just a two-hour flight from Sydney. Indeed, its otherworldly landscapes have been compared to the fictitious Isla Nublar from the Jurassic Park movies. With Jurassic World Dominion, the sixth film in the series, hitting Australian cinemas on 10 June, satisfy your appetite for adventure in New South Wales’s own Jurassic Park with these eight itinerary highlights.
Get a buzz scaling an ancient volcano
Like Isla Nublar, Lord Howe Island has volcanic origins — it’s a remnant of a shield volcano that erupted some seven million years ago. Rising up from its southern tip is one of the small island’s most distinctive volcanic features, the hulking basalt peak of Mt Gower (875m). Get your adrenaline pumping on a guided scramble to the summit, a challenging full-day hike that rewards you with misty-eye-inducing views across the 11km-long island. On the way up, you’ll pass through ecosystems so surreal you’ll feel like you’re in a fantasy film of your own.
Be awed by an ancient icon
Marvel at another volcanic wonder in the form of the world’s tallest volcanic stack, Balls Pyramid, which shoots 551m out of the ocean. Located 23km offshore, Balls Pyramid is home to another ancient relic, the Lord Howe Island phasmid, a giant stick insect thought to be extinct for decades before it was rediscovered here in 2001. While climbing Balls Pyramid isn’t permitted, some of the region’s most beautiful coral reefs fringe the sea stack. Admire them on thrilling snorkelling or scuba diving tours.
Discover species that live nowhere else
While you won’t find any man-eating prehistoric reptiles lurking on Lord Howe Island, you can delight in encountering dozens of plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth. Among its most famous endemic creatures is the Lord Howe woodhen, a chocolate-coloured ground-dwelling bird that has made a remarkable comeback following a recent major conservation initiative. Look out for these curious birds as you explore the island.
Jump on a bike and lap up the lack of crowds
Revel in the solitude as you cycle around Lord Howe Island, the most popular way to get around. With less than 400 residents, and daily visitors capped at 400 to help preserve the island’s natural beauty and laidback vibe, this is one destination where you’ll never need to worry about crowds, let alone dinosaurs. Some accommodations offer complimentary bikes, or you can rent one.
Dive into idyllic beaches
Take your pick of Lord Howe Island’s dazzling beaches, with 11 to choose from — and not a Mosasaurus in sight. Chase waves at Blinky Beach, go paddleboarding or kayaking on the island’s famed aquamarine lagoon. Hike over land or take a tour to North Bay’s beach, strap on a snorkel and be wowed by the vibrant colours of the corals just metres offshore from Ned’s Beach, which teem with rare reef fish. Or fully immerse yourself in the world’s most southerly barrier reef with Pro Dive.
Hike through forests from another era
Lord Howe Island may not have been formed until more than 50 million years after the last dinosaurs died out, but as you hike along trails weaving through subtropical forests that have evolved over thousands of years, it’s easy to think you’ve stepped into a bygone era. Take an energising 1.5km hike up Malabar Hill at the northern end of the island to pair ancient forests with awe-inspiring views. Between September and May, be dazzled by the airborne courting rituals of red-tailed tropicbirds at the top.
Feast on the fresh island produce
Located 600km east of the Australian mainland — much further from land than its Jurassic Park doppelganger — Lord Howe Island’s remoteness means local produce is king, from freshly caught kingfish to home-grown vegetables. There’s even beer brewed locally; head to The Nursery Lord Howe Island to taste ales from the taproom, perhaps also picking up some fresh veggies to cook in your accommodation. Or leave the cooking to local restaurants such as the Coral Cafe, where succulent local kingfish is usually on the menu, or Earl’s Anchorage, also known for its local produce-led fare.
Kick-off your hiking boots at a luxury stay
Jurassic Park fans may remember the luxe Hilton Isla Nublar from Jurassic World, the fourth film in the series. On Lord Howe Island, you have the luxury of choosing from a wider range of special stays. Gaze out towards Mt Gower from the infinity pool at Capella Lodge, soak up the heritage along with the relaxed vibe at Pinetrees, be soothed by the kentia palm forest cocooning Arajilla Retreat, or channel your inner Hemsworth on an ultra-luxe stay at Island House.
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