Two hours by plane northeast of Sydney, Lord Howe is an island of scarcely believable natural beauty. A crescent of land about 6 miles long by 1 mile wide, it is covered by a rainforest of ferns, mosses and orchids that extends to a shoreline ringed by white-sand beaches. Offshore, an extraordinary lagoon displays every color of a peacock’s tail. And at its southern tip, the island rears upward in the twin spires of Mount Lidgbird (2,550 feet) and Mount Gower (2,870 feet).
A tiny village contains general stores for the 350 permanent residents. There are few cars, and bicycles are the best way to get around. The island has a unique ecosystem with many plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. To preserve the island’s distinctive character, the number of visitors is restricted to 400 at any one time.