About 400 miles off Australia’s eastern coast, roughly equidistant between Sydney and Brisbane, lies the World Heritage Site of Lord Howe Island. The crescent-shaped island is the remnant of a large, submarine volcano along the Lord Howe Rise, an undersea ridge stretching across a large swath of the Tasman Sea. Some seven million years ago, an eruption of this shield volcano created an island roughly 30 kilometers (19 miles) in diameter, with a large crater in the center. Geochronological studies of rocks sampled from the island’s mountains (Mount Gower & Mount Lidgbird) suggest that a second eruption, roughly 600,000 years later (6.4 million years ago), filled in the crater, forming the island’s iconic hills. Today, only 2–3% of Lord Howe Island remains above sea level, but what is left is some of the most unspoiled beauty you will ever lay eyes on – flawless beaches, a vast turquoise lagoon home to colorful coral gardens, and majestic, green hillsides draped with lush palm forests.

At the northern tip of the island, the verdant slopes of Mount Eliza and Malabar Hill rise above Lord Howe’s aquamarine waters and coral lagoons. Though much smaller in stature than their southern counterparts, the northern hills provide some breathtaking panoramas of the island’s pristine beaches, as well as the towering southern peaks of Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird.

If you’re looking for an easy walk with some gorgeous views of Lord Howe Island, head for the forested trails leading to the top of Malabar Hill (and the adjacent Mount Eliza). Here, a series of steps and well-defined footpaths form a circuit from Old Settlement Beach (on the island’s west) and Ned’s Beach (on the east), with each leading to the scenic summits of Malabar Hill and Mount Eliza (inaccessible during our mid-February visit, due to sooty tern nesting season). Kim’s Lookout, a viewpoint on the way up to Malabar Hill from Old Settlement Beach, offers a truly exceptional vista of the entire island. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a Lord Howe Island white-eye (silvereye), one of the island’s only two surviving endemic bird species, flitting about the shaded canopy. It’s a short little trek, but a lovely spot for an early morning or sunset stroll.

Total Distance: 3.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,049 feet