Saturday 11 January 2020

A family holiday to Lord Howe Island

In mid-December, my extended family (all 9 adults and 3 children) set off on a trip to Lord Howe Island, a spot that we used to visit as a family when we were younger (however we realised that it is nearly 20 years since that last occurred). Lord Howe Island is a unique place, with no mobile phone reception and limited internet access, and a maximum of 400 guests allowed on the island at any time. It is known for its exquisite natural beauty, including an array of unspoiled beaches, incredible mountains to hike, and many amazing snorkelling, diving and fishing spots to explore.

Our accommodation and meals

We booked our accommodation at Pinetrees Lodge, a beautiful spot situated in a fairly central location on the island. As it was nearly 20 years since I last stayed there, it had been renovated and refurbished since my last stay. While it always served delicious and hearty meals, the quality and freshness of the meals was definitely a stand-out feature of the week.

Each morning, a continental breakfast buffet was served at 8am, with homemade bircher muesli, yoghurt, cereals, fresh fruits, and toast. Barista coffee was available, and a hot breakfast option was offered with two choices (along with a fresh juice or smoothie) - options included scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, fried eggs with grilled chorizo and sweetcorn, fluffy pancakes with berries and yoghurt, coconut porridge with peaches and vanilla syrup, or smashed avocado and tomato on sourdough.

You could choose from a few options at lunchtime - dining in at Pinetrees for the buffet spread of freshly cooked meat and an array of salads; having a BBQ picnic delivered to you at one of the many BBQ spots around the island (with your choice of fresh kingfish, chicken or red meat); or receiving a packed picnic lunch with a fresh gourmet sandwich and a homemade muesli bar, if you were planning on venturing out on a day hike or fishing trip.

Afternoon tea is served at 4pm, with a range of delicious baked goods on offer, including choc chip cookies, white chocolate and berry muffins, dark chocolate fudge brownies, or berry friands.

The main event is the four course dinner served at 7:30pm in the summer months (after enjoying a sunset drink at the boatshed). The entree course included options like grilled octopus, mushroom soup or roasted carrot salad; the main course was a choice of two dishes - usually a deliciously creative dish involving kingfish (the island's local delicacy) or steak, chicken, pork belly or slow cooked lamb (with an additional vegetarian option if you prefer). There were again two choices for dessert, such as dark chocolate mousse with lemon curd, churros with chocolate dipping sauce, or berry semifreddo. Finally, a cheese course was offered as well - a small platter with a choice of three cheeses served with crackers and fig or quince paste. We definitely did not go hungry all week.



One of the great things about staying somewhere like Lord Howe Island is the ability to wake up each morning with a clean slate ahead of you, giving you the freedom to decide what you would like to do that day. Lord Howe Island is one of those rare holiday destinations where you can truly switch off from reality for the week (due to the lack of mobile reception and internet access) without having to worry about work or other commitments.

While we spent a fair few mornings and afternoons chilling out with a book on the beach, one of the activities that Dave and I were keen to conquer was climbing Mt Gower, the tallest mountain on the island, standing at 875m tall and known as one of Australia's greatest day hikes. It was by far the hardest hike I have ever done (nearly 8 hours of strenuous climbing, involving pulling yourself up ropes and often facing sheer drops which tested my fear of heights), however the views were absolutely stunning and I would definitely recommend it if you are keen on hiking.

Other fun activities in which to take part on the island include scuba diving, snorkelling (either off Ned's Beach or Old Settlement Beach, or taking a boat tour out to one of the many snorkelling spots surrounding the island), going on one of the island's shorter hikes (such as hiking to the goat house on Mt Lidgbird, or climbing Mt Eliza or Mt Malabar), taking part in a pre-breakfast yoga session at the boatshed, enjoying a BBQ at one of the BBQ spots around the island, spending hours reading a book at one of the many secluded beaches, or simply relaxing with a massage or facial at Pinetrees' day spa.

If you are looking for a holiday destination where you can really switch off and enjoy nature without crowds of tourists swarming around you, Lord Howe Island is a fantastic spot to visit for a break from reality.



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