Lord Howe Island
Beautiful Lord Howe Island and its surrounding South Pacific islands and islets are a collection of national parks and U.N. World Heritage Sites 375 miles (600 km) east of Australia with huge, important nesting seabird colonies. These include rare providence petrels, half the world population of fleshy-footed shearwaters, gannets, noddies, masked boobies, 100,000 sooty terns, more red-tailed tropic birds than anyplace else, and the world’s most southerly coral reefs. Flightless Lord Howe woodhens, one of the world’s rarest species, once slaughtered to near-extinction, are now, with protection, here in a small but stable population, among some 130 species.
Lord Howe’s dramatic peaks rose as volcanoes from the ocean bottom 7 million years ago and erupted for 500,000 years. Now they are covered with lush green, topped with clouds, filled with life. Of 180 flowering plants, 56 are nowhere else. Of 48 ferns, 19 are only here. Surrounding crystalline waters are filled with more than 490 fish species in an enthralling undersea community of sea stars, urchins, and corals. The 7-by-1.25-mile (11 × 2-km) island has fine snorkeling, diving, trails for hiking, biking, and a range of accommodations, reachable by flights from Sydney and Brisbane. Weather pleasant, humid/subtropical all year.