'I went to Lord Howe Island with a newborn and two toddlers. Here's my... honest review.'

Mamamia Must-Go is your insider guide on what to see, do and eat at popular holiday destinations. It's where you'll find honest recommendations from the women who've been there. This week, Hannah shares her top tips for Lord Howe Island with really little kids.

We booked our holiday as a family of four, but a lot can change in nine months.

After years of COVID cancellations, nothing was going to stop our trip to Lord Howe Island. 

Not even a seven-week-old baby.

Several people at the airport told me I was "brave", in that tone of voice that means they think you are completely insane and a bit irresponsible.

While you're here, here's out hot tips for your next vacation. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Actually, I'm the least intrepid traveller you could meet. I don't camp, I'm not looking for a transformative experience on holiday. I won't even book a hotel if I suspect they have a glass walled bathroom in the middle of the bedroom. Ick.

We actually chose Lord Howe Island for our first holiday with our two-year-old and four-year-old (plus bonus newborn), because it felt safe. Like the perfect mix of exotic and easy. It's roughly halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, about 600km out from the coast of Port Macquarie. You're still technically in Australia so you don't need to coordinate passports or battle jetlag, but once you arrive it's another world. The closest comparison I can make is to a Hawaiian island but without the hordes of tourists or Taco Bell.


It feels exclusive, because it is. Lord Howe Island, or LHI to the initiated, only welcomes 400 visitors at any one time, so the total population of the island is never more than 800. 

Image: Supplied.


It is literally paradise, a UNESCO World Heritage site with coral reefs and white sandy beaches. It's one of the few places in Australia where they can guarantee there are no snakes or stingers.

We spent eight days there which was plenty of time for me to feel like an expert on this tiny island. Here's my honest and review and recommendations for planning a trip to Lord Howe Island.

Getting to Lord Howe Island.

It turns out 600km off the coast is quite a long way, so the only realistic option is to fly.

QantasLink offers year-round services from Sydney. At just two-hours, it was a relatively easy flight, even with the smallest of travellers.

Be prepared for a very tiny plane, there were just 20 people on ours, including crew. Snacks were limited to just cookies, so bring a full lunchbox for the kids. Expect just one very small toilet that you'll struggle to get two humans into, even though one is a small child. If you have a little one who is toilet training, stick a nappy on for the flight and make sure everyone else "does a tactical" before boarding. There were no built in screens or WiFi, so there was no entertainment (which is a running theme for Lord Howe Island). Luckily we had lots of colouring books and a few downloaded videos but I'd invest in an old-school portable DVD player next time.


There wasn't much waiting around pre and post flight - the perks of flying domestically. We opted for the mid-morning departure so we arrived at our accommodation in time for room check-in and much needed afternoon naps.

There are connecting services via Sydney with Qantas from all Australian capital cities and with QantasLink from many regional centres. Eastern Air Services also offer weekly flights and charters from Port Macquarie, the Gold Coast and Newcastle to Lord Howe Island. Like most airfares at the moment, it’s not cheap. Book in advance and you’re getting a good deal if you pay less than $1,000 return. 

Where to stay in Lord Howe Island.

My parents have been to Lord Howe Island many times, so we benefited from their insider knowledge when it came to booking accommodation. Here’s the scoop.

There are basically two options: luxury hotels or self-catered apartments/houses.

If you're going to Lord Howe Island, everyone will ask if you're staying at Capella Lodge. This is the top end of luxury hotel-style and it’s made to be Instagrammed. A high-end retreat with an infinity pool, private decks with plunge spas, oversized rain showers and gourmet three-course dinners. It's absolutely beautiful but neither kid nor cost-of-living-crisis-friendly because your youngest guest must be ten years old and rooms start at $3,000 per night.


I probably wouldn't stay at Capella with kids even if we could afford it. It would be perfect to laze by the pool on a honeymoon or romantic weekend away, but for a week-long family holiday you want to get out and about. The lodge is a solid one hour walk from the main "town centre" of Lord Howe Island leaving you a bit stranded.

If you want a luxury holiday but also to be central and not feel self-conscious about having procreated, PineTrees is the answer. It's been named TripAdvisor's 2023 Number 1 Hotel in Australia AND Number 1 Hotel in the South Pacific, ahead of hotels in Fiji, Tahiti and New Zealand. I took myself on a sneaky tour - the hotel is a stone's throw from the lagoon beach and walking tracks. The grounds are beautiful and the food looks next level.


While I've added PineTrees to my bucket list, we chose to stay at the Somerset Apartments for a few reasons.

1. Location: Somerset is perfectly positioned right between the two main beaches: Ned's Beach and the Lagoon. It's also super close to the shops and restaurants.

2. Price: Somerset isn't lux, but the bathrooms are newly renovated and the fit out is clean and bright. Nothing on the island comes cheap, but at ~$700 per night for a full family apartment it was much more affordable.

3. Self service: Three kids means a lot of washing and a lot of meals. Having the flexibility to self cater and access to laundry facilities was key. Being able to BBQ after a big day at the beach was much easier than getting everyone out to a restaurant.

Our accommodation provided baby cots and transfers to and from the airport. Ask about transfers when booking as taxis aren't a thing on Lord Howe Island. 

Getting around on Lord Howe Island.

There are also almost no cars and the speed limit is 25km, so everyone gets around on a bike. Our kids are too little to reliably ride on their own, so we hired adult bikes with a double trailer from Wilsons Bike Hire. We used it constantly for beach trips, getting to dinner and even for a midnight trip to the hospital when our toddler got sick. Book in advance if you're going in peak periods.


What to pack.

As a family of five we rarely travel light. However, the tiny plane meant strict weight limits. Lord Howe Island isn't for high fashion, you'll mostly be in your swimmers and activewear.

Things you actually need if you visit in summer with a baby or young kids:

  • Swimmers and sun protection, BYO bulk sunscreen as options are limited.
  • Jelly shoes for exploring the rocks. Lord Howe Island is a former volcano so the rock pools are beautiful and sharp.
  • A comprehensive first aid kit. There's a cottage hospital on the Island for anything serious but make sure you've got what you need for everyday injuries and colds.
  • Baby carrier and small pram. We were in the red crying phase so I was clocking up 20K+ steps per day on the island strapped to the baby carrier. Bringing our trusty BabyZenYOYO travel pram gave us the flexibility to stay out all day while our newborn slept. While the beach paths are rocky, the main roads that connect the beaches are nicely paved for pram walks.
  • An old school baby monitor. Lord Howe Island's charm extends to no mobile reception and patchy WiFi at best.

Save yourself the hassle of nappy maths by ordering a delivery direct to your accommodation. We ordered ours through 'Diamonds', one of three small local stores. They don't have the range you'd expect from a Woolies delivery, but the two sisters who run the store more than make up for it with service. If you're self-catering, this is where you can order all your groceries and alcohol. Like everything, expect to pay "island prices" and order in advance.

Things to do.

Feed the fish at Ned's Beach.

If your kids like the aquarium they'll LOVE Ned's Beach. It's on the island's north-east and is home to a colourful array of fish. For the ichthyophiles we are talking: Mullet, Wrasse, Garfish, Silver-drummer, Spangled Emperor and Kingfish. YEAH I THINK FISH ARE COOL NOW. The water is normally super calm, making it safe enough to hand feed the (incredibly friendly and gentle) fish. Fish food, masks, fins and snorkels are available from a hut on the beach. Payment is a gold coin donation to the 'honesty box', which really sums up the vibe of the whole place.


Image: Supplied.

Get a massage.

Parenting on holiday is hard, book a massage. I recommend Kentiana, overlooking the lagoon. Email Lady Startup Anna for massage or beauty treatment before you arrive - it gets busy.

Hike to Old Gulch.

Hike is probably an exaggeration. While I wouldn't take our toddler, I strapped on the baby carrier for this beautiful 0.3km walk to a small prehistoric-looking rocky cove known as Old Gulch.


Image: Supplied.

Visit the brewery.

The Lord Howe Island Brewery is iconic for a reason. The family-friendly beer garden is surrounded by greenhouses packed with veggies. Make sure you visit at least once for the best wood-fired pizza, smoked meat rolls and a well-deserved holiday cocktail.

Image: Supplied.


This writer paid for her trip in full. 

Feature Image: Supplied. 

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