Think Lord Howe Island is too fancy for your price range? Scout’s got some tips that might make a trip to this dream destination a little more achievable.
If you were to ask me what three things first come to mind when I think of Lord Howe Island it would be those mountains, that reef and too expensive. But having visited the island recently I can happily say that you too, the gritty, bank-account-is-tighter-than-a-fish’s-ass microadventurer, can completely immerse yourself in this idyllic honeymoon hotspot.
Myth? Definitely not. This “Howe To Budget” guide will quickly become your most read travel bible. Move over Lonely Planet, this is how to explore Lord Howe Island on the cheap.
Getting To Lord Howe Island
Unless you happen to own a boat, the only feasible way to travel to Lord Howe Island is by boarding a Qantas flight from Sydney or Brisbane that you’ve booked well in advance. For the spontaneous adventurers who finds it hard to commit 4 months in advance, keep your eyes peeled for when Qantas releases Frequent Flyer redemption seats, usually 4-6 weeks, or even days, prior to departure. Keep in mind that the most popular time to visit the island is between September and May.
It’s an expense that often flies under the radar when booking domestic travel, but it shouldn’t when you’re flying to Lord Howe Island – due to the very unpredictable changes in weather flights can be cancelled or turned around last minute. Taking out travel insurance to cover the journey if this happens will save you an arm and potentially a leg!
Lord Howe Island is only 11km long and 3km wide at its widest point, meaning that the most common form of “transport” is foot or pedal power. Perhaps you consider yourself to be quite the mermaid (slash merman)? Then snorkelling from one end of the lagoon to the other and exploring all the beaches in between might be more your forte. Your accommodation will take care of you when it comes to airport transfers, booya!
Where To Stay
There’s a range of lodges, guesthouses and self-contained apartments on the island. However, with only 400 beds available for travellers it’s important to ensure there’s a vacancy or reserve your accommodation at the time of booking your flights. Accommodation rates vary during the off-peak and peak seasons but the best option for the budget traveller is always going to be a self-contained apartment. After all nothing screams ‘saving money’ more than cooking up a storm in the comfort of your underwear.
Lord Howe Island is 600km offshore, therefore everything from toilet paper to fuel must be delivered by either air or sea and with that comes a hefty markup on the price! To keep the cost of food down while on the island, take some over with you. Although the luggage limit is strictly 14kg checked and 7kg carry on, you may be surprised at how much you can squeeze in. If you can travel with no more than 3 sets of clothes, a pair of boots, a snorkel and flippers then you’re laughing! There are a couple of supermarkets to do a grocery shop for meat and cold essentials.
Eating out on the island will happen a lot, though if you’re doing this trip on the cheap it won’t be in one of the boutique restaurants. Instead, it’ll be on top of a lookout with your tins of tuna and rice cakes, or taking advantage of the communal BBQs that are situated in some of the most picturesque spots. The Lord Howe Island Board (council) ensures that the BBQs are always stacked with firewood ready to sizzle them snags!
You’ll thank me later for suggesting squeezing in as much packet pasta as you can because after smashing all the kilo-killing, free activities the island offers you’ll want all the carbs you can get! From the 11 gobsmacking beaches boasting coral reefs and an abundance of sea life, to the kilometres of walking trails along ridgelines, the crystal-clear waters and rainforests, exploring Lord Howe Island is priceless.
If Mount Gower, one of the best day hikes in the world, and diving the outer reefs is on your itinerary than you’ll need to consider this in your budget and arrange for a guided tour with the highly recommended Lord Howe Environmental Tours.
Special thanks to Osprey Packs Australia for helping to make this trip possible!
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Howe good are islands?