It’s only 500 nautical miles off the east coast of Australia, yet when you touch down on the two- by 11-kilometre reef-fringed isle that is Lord Howe Island you’ll feel like you’ve landed on another planet. You won’t find high-rise resorts or traffic jams here; in fact, you won’t even see a traffic light! With only 350 locals and guest numbers limited to just 400 people per night, the archipelago is a veritable tropical oasis. If that wasn’t cool enough, the isle also has dual protection: it’s a marine park and UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. Thus, the coral reef system is perfectly pristine and the warm ocean waters offer visibility averaging between 25 to 30 metres year-round. The mix of tropical and subtropical marine life means you’ll encounter a diverse range of coral, fish and various other crustaceans, and with over 80 dive sites to choose from there is something for everyone.
One such diving experience is the bi-annual Dive Week at Pinetrees Lodge. Held in December and January each year, you’ll learn key skills like managing strong currents, buoyancy and air consumption, then get the chance to venture into new and secret areas around the island where no divers have been before – a truly unique and exciting experience. Expect to see lots of marine life; think Galapagos Whaler sharks, crays, rays and turtles, as well as locals like Double Headed Maori Wrasse and Ballina Angelfish which aren’t found anywhere else on earth. Weather permitting, you’ll also dive beside the spectacular Balls Pyramid, the world’s largest sea stack, set 25 kilometres off the coast and bursting more than 500 metres into the air. Here, you’ll see incredible walls of fish including Silver Drummer, Amberjack and occasionally marlin and dolphins.
At the end of each day, kick back on the balcony with a cold bevvy while watching the sun sink below the ocean and tuck into a gourmet meal before crashing into a comfy bed, ready to do it all again the next day.
QantasLink flies to Lord Howe Island from Sydney, Australia, and from Brisbane on weekends, with connections from most Australian cities.