Capella Lodge

Sample Itinerary—Quintessential Lord Howe

Curated exclusively for National Geographic

Spend five days discovering the pristine tropical paradise of Lord Howe Island. Snorkel amid sea turtles and schooling fish in a crystalline lagoon, stroll sugar-white beaches in search of rare endemic birds, and scale the summits of the island’s jaw-dropping emerald peaks. Each evening, embark on a world-class culinary adventure at your waterfront lodge.

Your experience at the lodge will be tailored to your interests. The sample itinerary below was designed for National Geographic travelers and can be customized as you wish.

Highlights

  • Enjoy sunset drinks and island-inspired appetizers at Lover's Bay, the most romantic beach on the island, located a short walk from the lodge. (National Geographic Exclusive)
  • Join world-renowned naturalist Ian Hutton on a private bird-watching tour of the island’s 200-plus bird species that include some of the world’s rarest.
  • Hand-feed mullets and kingfish at Ned’s Beach, snorkel the island’s reef to discover endemic fish and sea turtles, and cruise the pristine lagoon in a glass-bottom boat.
  • Hike to stunning mountain vistas through tropical forest and kentia palm groves.

Day 1—Arrive Lord Howe Island, Australia

Fly to Lord Howe Island and meet the lodge managers, who will accompany you on a short transfer to Capella and along the way give a colorful overview of the island. Enjoy welcome refreshments with views of the lagoon, reef, and mountains. After getting settled, set out to explore the island on your own. Hop on a complimentary mountain bike, or walk down the hill from the lodge through kentia palm forests to the base of Mount Lidgbird, a prime spot for spying the endemic Providence petrel (March to September). Watch the sun set over Lover's Bay, the island’s most romantic beach, where a personal waiter will serve you drinks and appetizers. Then return to the lodge for a three-course dinner complemented by grandstand views of the coast as the sky turns from pink to moonlit.

Day 2—Exploring Sea to Sky

After breakfast, cruise the sheltered, crystalline lagoon in a glass-bottom boat. Glimpse reef fish and delicate coral formations, and stop at Erscott’s Hole, where you can snorkel or experience feeding time for large reef fish such as the unusual double-headed wrasse. Eat lunch like an islander—with a barbecue at one of the island’s many idyllic beach spots. Later, wade into the shallows at Ned’s Beach to hand-feed the island’s fish, from mullets to kingfish. Take a scenic walk along the spine of the island’s mountain ridge, passing through kentia palm groves and and burrows where shearwaters breed. Climb Malabar Hill, where one of the world’s largest colonies of red-tailed tropicbirds shelter in the steep cliffs that drop to the sea. From September to May, you might catch their fascinating aerial courtship display. For an added challenge, keep climbing to Kim’s Lookout for views of Mount Gower and the island’s jewel-toned reef below. End your night with a dinner of Pacific flavors, from freshly caught fish to ice cream churned at the lodge.

Day 3—Mountain Hikes or Ball’s Pyramid

After breakfast at the lodge, explore the island’s unusual landscapes on a variety of excursions. Set out on an all-day climb to the top of Mount Gower. Considered one of Australia’s best hikes, the challenging trek rewards the intrepid with views of Ball’s Pyramid, Mount Lidgbird, and the world’s southernmost reef. At the summit, explore the mist forest that’s home to mosses, orchids, and other plants unique to Lord Howe Island. Other options: Take a cruise to Ball’s Pyramid, a 1,844-foot basalt sea stack home to incredible birds as well as the last wild population of the world’s rarest insect; or hike through the rain forest up to the ancient Goat House cave on Mount Lidgbird—a perfect picnic spot and vantage point over the island. Later, watch the sunset over the South Pacific with a drink in hand at Growers Terrace, followed by an island-inspired dinner at the lodge.

Day 4—Wildlife Excursions

After breakfast, explore the island’s wildlife—whether birds, turtles, or fish. Follow Ian Hutton—a world-renowned naturalist who has been exploring Lord Howe Island for more than three decades—on a private bird-watching tour of the North Bay. Home to more than 200 bird species, the island teems with seabirds along its cliffs and beaches. Depending on the time of year, you may spot red-tailed tropic birds, shearwaters, sooty terns, and masked boobies. Other optional morning activities: During the months of November to April, get up close with green sea turtles and hawksbill turtles on a glass-bottom boat or while snorkeling in the reef—such as in the seagrass beds and rich corals of Settlement Beach, a favorite grazing spot of turtles. Or join local Jack Shick on his purpose-built boat for a day of deep sea fishing, sightseeing, and bird-watching on the water. Angle for Lord Howe kingfish, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, and several endemic fish species; back at the lodge, the chefs will transform the day’s catch into dinner. No matter your morning adventure, unwind at the spa or stroll the beach before evening drinks and dinner in the lodge.

Day 5—Depart

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and one final jaunt to your favorite island spot—whether on bike, by kayak, or on foot. This afternoon, transfer to the Lord Howe Island Airport for your flight home.

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