Family Travels

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Lord Howe for families

Lord Howe for families

Just a 90-minute flight from Sydney, Lord Howe Island is isolated more by exclusivity than distance ... and makes for an idyllic family escape.

The island can only accommodate up to 400 guests at any one time. And unless you're already a resident or marry a resident, it's more or less impossible to move here.

Because of its relative isolation, the island is an important conservation site for many rare and endemic species. Almost half of the 241 native plant species are found nowhere else in the world, and the same goes for both the reptile species (a skink and a gecko) and almost a thousand insect species. Creepy cool!

Above all else, Lord Howe represents a true departure from technology and urban hustle — leave your phone behind (islanders voted against mobile reception), don't bother with the internet (set an out-of-office; trust us), and get used to slowing way down (the easiest way to get around is by bicycle).

For the few cars on Lord Howe, there's a 25km/h speed limit and … get this … a 'No Lock Policy'. We can feel the chill running down your city-slicker spine at the thought!

So how will the kids survive a week without Facebook, Xbox and SMS-ing?

Teach 'em to appreciate the surrounding natural environment. It is what you make of it: a virtual Choose Your Own Adventure destination.

Birdwatchers will be chuffed; 180 species have been identified on Lord Howe — petrels, shearwaters, terns and noddys are in the hundreds of thousands.

There are guided and un-guided hikes for all levels of fitness — from the relatively easy climb to Kim's Lookout in the north, to the 8-hour trek up Mt Gower's 870m in the south.

If you'd rather work on your tan while the kids have a splash, there are 11 safe swimming beaches on the island, each just a short bike ride from the next. There are also two world class day spas, at Capella and Arajilla resorts on the north and south end of the island respectively.

On Neds Beach grab a snorkel and fins (just leave a donation in the honesty box) and enter a natural aquarium of rainbow-coloured wrasse, green turtles and black-tipped reef sharks, stingrays, clownfish, giant clams, corals and 14 kinds of sea urchin.

I'm here to do all of the above. Relax, unwind, get in touch with nature. Go on a few hikes, tackle Gower and maybe indulge in a spa treatment or two. But mainly, I'm here to explore the island's marine park.

As a recent convert to the joys of scuba, I'm inspired by the amazing photos I've seen in the brochures (and on friends' Facebook pages) and excited about the 50 dive sites. In fact, I'm already fretting about which ones I won't get to see!

As soon as we've settled into our rooms at the gorgeous, family-run Pinetrees Lodge we head for the beach, snorkels at the ready.

There are two dive operators on the island, Howea Divers and Pro Dive. They're situated next to each other — literally — on Lagoon Beach and enjoy a healthy rivalry. They're both great — easy going, safety conscious and incredibly knowledgeable about the abundant marine life.

During our week on Lord Howe we manage to squeeze in six dives and a few snorkels — and each dip is different.

There's something calming about the silence underwater that's deeply relaxing, and yet the colourful underwater world is exciting and alive. The whole experience is exhilarating and refreshing.

And what can be more exciting for kids than to swim with Squirt, Nemo and Dory?

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User comments
Very impressive.

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