Diving Lord Howe Island

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Lord Howe Island, Australia

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AnemoneDSC01155HelloOn top of Mt Gower

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Country: Australia  Area: New South Wales

Water Temp: 17 - 28°C (63 - 82°F)

Visibility: 5 - 50m (16 - 164 ft)

Depth Range: 2 - 34m (7 - 112 ft)

Green and hawksbill turtles migrate Late August - Late May
Coral spawning Late January
Transient population of wahoo Early April - Early May
Transient population of tuna Early November - Early December

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Lord Howe Island is one of seven world heritage listed islands in the world. It is often referred to as “the last paradise”. With no mobile phone reception and limited internet access it offers visitors a chance to get away from their every day life and enjoy the serenity in a pristine environment.

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The island offers visitors the chance to relax on the beach and laze the day away. There are also a number of activities to fill your day with adventure. Bicycles are the main form of transport, and add to the safe and family friendly holiday location!

The diving on Lord Howe Island is simply spectacular. With both tropical and temperate currents running, divers are able to enjoy a mix of marine life unlike any other destination. Average visibility is 20M plus and with over 60 dive sites to choose from, all with a short travel distance, Lord Howe Island offers excellent diving for beginners right through to the experienced level diver. Diving ranges from shore dives, to boat dives in the lagoon, outer reef and the Admiralty Islands.

Blue fish, Credit 

Balls Pyramid, approximately 23Km and from Lord Howe Island offers world class diving. The world’s tallest monolith offers an abundance of marine life with species endemic to the region. This is a must for keen and experienced divers.

Rich & Colorful Reef, Credit


The average temperature on Lord Howe Island during the main season ranges between 21 and 27 degrees. The dive season runs September to May. In the cooler winter months, temperatures can drop to 17 degrees and the wind is more prevalent.

Water temperatures range from 19 to 26 degrees during the dive season and can drop to 17 – 18 degrees in winter (June – August).

The annual rainfall is 1499mm and the majority of the rain fall occurs from May – June.

Marine Conservation

Lord Howe Island is surrounded by a NSW Marine Park. The park was formed in 1999 and covers approximately 48 000 hectares. Sanctuary zones exist both inside and outside the Lord Howe Island lagoon. Coupled with a limited human settlement, the marine life around Lord Howe remains pristine. Daily catch limits differ to that of other areas in NSW. For the latest information, contact Marine Parks Association.

Angel Fish & Coral, Credit

Other Year round Marine life

Black Sting Ray, Meyen’s Sting Ray, Bull Ray, Nudibranchs  (Spanish Dancer, Spanish Thuridilla, Morose Tambja, Fine-lined Tambja, Bordered Roboastra, Elizabeth’s Chromodoris, Ocellate Phyllidia), Flatworms, Clams, Lobsters, Crabs, Sea Stars, Urchins, Lord Howe Moray, Spotted Moray, White Mouthed Moray, Kingfish, Trevally, White Spot Cromus, Butterfly Fish, Angelfish, Wrasse, Leatherjacket, Doubleheader, Morwong, Banded Scaleyfin, Anemonefish, Drummer, Goatfish, Catfish, Snapper, Cod, Amberjack.

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Shore Diving

Shore dives are suitable for all levels including beginners. Some of the more common sites are Neds Beach located on the eastern side of the island, and lagoon shore dives such as Sylph’s hole, Far Rocks and Little Island.  

Divers should expect to see angelfish, butterfly fish, wrasse, Galapagos whaler sharks, silver drummer, blue fish, a range of nudibranchs, crayfish, sea stars, green turtles, hawksbill turtles and more.

Lord Howe Island marine park residents, Credit

Boat Diving

Boat diving is suitable for beginners right through to the experienced diver. Few dive sites have strong currents and with an abundance of sites to choose from, it is often that divers will experience little or no current. Very few dives are drift dives, offered to the experienced diver only.

Sites accessed from the western side include the Lord Howe Island Lagoon sites, outer reef sites situated under the Malabar and Kims cliffs, North Head sites, the Old and New Gulch sites and the Admiralty Islands.

Sites accessed from the eastern side include Neds beach, Middle Beach and Clear Place. The Admiralty Islands can also be accessed from Neds Beach.

HorseShoe Reef, Credit

Balls Pyramid located approximately 23km from Lord Howe Island is offered to the experienced diver only (Advanced / deep certification required).

Divers should expect to see an abundance of hard and soft corals and fish such as kingfish, trevally, angelfish, butterfly fish, nudibranchs, crayfish, wrasse, green turtles, hawksbill turtles, stingrays, reef sharks, moray eels and much more.

Liveaboard Diving

Liveaboard diving is not available on Lord Howe Island at this time.

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How to Get there

Lord Howe Island is a two-hour flight from Sydney, Brisbane or Port Macquarie.   

Lord Howe Island Coast, Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

There are a number of restaurants on Lord Howe Island. Visitors can enjoy dining at the following places;

Arajilla Retreat, Anchorage Restaurant, The Coral Café, Pandanus Restaurant, Greenbacks Restaurant, Pinetrees Lodge, Beachcomber Lodge, Beach House on the Moon, The Lord Howe Island Bowling Club and the Lord Howe Island Golf Club. Breakfast and lunch are also available at Anchorage Restaurant and the Coral Café. Thompsons store offers take away meals for lunch.

Parrotfish, Credit

Many of the lodges offer self contained apartments and groceries can be purchased from Joys Shop, Top Shop, the Lord Howe Island Co-Operative or Thompsons Store. 

There are no nightclubs on Lord Howe Island, however the Bowling Club and Golf club have bars. All restaurants are licenced.          

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Other Activities

There are plenty of non-diving activities across Howe Island and along the shores.

The island is often heralded as Australia’s best bird watching destination, given that it has 14 species of seabirds breeding in incredible numbers. There are a number of trails that lead hikers around the island, carrying you to some of the best bird watching spots. Be sure to swing by the Malabar Cliffs and to follow the Little Island Track if you’re keen on seeing some of the endemic species here. These trails are of course great for general exploring as well.

Cliff, Lord Howe Island, Credit

Fishing is also extremely popular on Lord Howe. There are no commercial fisheries on the island, leaving an incredible diversity of marine life for divers and anglers alike. Lord Howe Kingfish, Yellowfin Tuna and Wahoo are a few species frequently found in these waters. There are 10 charters that run various fishing trips daily.

Otherwise, you might prefer to spend your days kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, surfing or kite surfing on the ocean. There are also a number of tennis and golf clubs for visitors, as well as a few lawn bowling sights.

If traveling with your family, there are a number of diving opportunities for children. This includes: Discover Scuba Diving, PADI Junior Open Water course, PADI Junior Advanced Open Water Course, fun dives for the certified diver. There are also a number of glass bottom boats.

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Consider renting a bike while you’re on the island! This is by far the best way to get around, given that there are virtually no cars on the island. Best of all, this is a very safe and trusting island. Most people leave their bikes and helmets unlocked without any problem. Though, of course if it is a rental, it is not a bad idea to lock it up just in case.

Travel insurance is highly recommend if visiting the island, since flights are often cancelled due to high winds.

Bird, Credit

If planning on visiting during the winter months, note that many of the island business owners choose this time to take their vacation. The island is significantly quieter during this period and you may run into a number of closures.

Note that there is no hyperbaric chamber on Lord Howe Island. The nearest one is on the mainland of Australia in Brisbane or Sydney. This is unfortunately only accessible by flight.

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