Two hours by plane northeast of Sydney, Lord Howe is an island of scarcely believable 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. To preserve the island’s distinctive character, the number of visitors is restricted to 400 at any one time.