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Lisa Ralph PH: (02) 6563 2356 PO Box 182, Lord Howe Island, NSW 2898
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mike-yPadi rescue2250 TGs

Lovely!

Snorkeling in the bay at Old Settlement Beach something suddenly bumped into my thigh. For one second frozen in shock and terrible ideas I looked down only to find a big Loggerhead slowly feeding on seagrass. She seemed rather tame and not at all bothered by my floating above her or putting my camera close to her face. Several more of these encounters followed the next days including some bigger spots of catfish. Lovely!

For more than 15 years – since my first visit to Australias Christmas and Cocos Keeling Island – Lord Howe has been on my list of “must see” destinations. Retirement at last made this dream come true. Not only this but Ururu, Kings Canyon, 12 Apostel, Lady Elliot, Hamilton Island, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane. The nature and countryside is awesome and beautiful, the cities especially Melbourne charming. Great Ocean Road a stunning and breathtaking sight you just can´t get enough of.

Lord Howe on final approach is amazing and I immediately thought, wouh this is Australia Bora Bora, with mountain tops covered in clouds, a beautiful blueish green bay, coral reef and green valleys around.

At home already I´ve done some research on diving and chose and pre booked dives with Pro Dive plus option to once go to Balls Pyramid 24 km southeast of L. H. For the latter they charge extra 300 A $ two tank, horrendous that. Like everywhere else in the world extras cost you big money, like shark feeding, dolphin encounter etc. One of these days dive centers will rip you off for some extra costs, when you pass 30 m or hit deco both of which might cause stress for the dive guide. Just wait and see. There is a baggage allowance of 15 kg , I had more but it was never an issue or extra costs.

I chose Milky Way in a pretty setting inside some garden and rain forest like area, one amazing beach only 1 minute away. Had a large cottage with bedroom – living room with kitchen for in house self catering. Rented a bike to cover the 11 km of streets they have on the island. You will find fantastic hiking trails all over the island into the hills and steep cliffs with thousands of birds nesting there, to some lonely beaches, one hike to the top of the mountain for some wonderful view all across the island.

Sugar Loaf our first dive site showed nice healthy hard and soft coral not like a fully covered area but in spots. Found some smaller version of humphead in blue named Doubleheader Wrasse, mediocre fish life, 24 degrees water with good 40 m vis. Swim thru with sting rays hiding there. There could have been more fish, but well this again shows nearly everywhere in the world. Above on surface break some steep cliffs and awesome island scenery right in front of us, wouh. The 24 degrees succeeded in getting me chilled in my five mil on the second dive with fresh wind blowing all the time, so the next few days and dives I brought my chicken vest with hood, which improved things very much. Boat with 12 divers and two tank for each was a bit tight when everybody tried to gear up. The dive guides give very thorough boat procedure and dive briefings and check on you under water all the time for air consumption. They follow your profile, write it down. The dive center, 2 smaller sheds, sit on the beach, gear + compressor room, 3 rather small tanks to wash your gear in due to fresh water restrictions on the island.

Lord Howe I would count among the top 10 most beautiful islands in the world. Others for me being Palau, Misool, Aitutaki, El Nido, Kauai, Santorini … The island is enticing in it´s beauty all around with lush green palm trees and tropical rain forest with odd plants, a huge lagoon for snorkeling, some fantastic beaches where you might be the only guest. When you find the wind too strong and cold on one side you easily turn to the other side of the island. Fish will crowd around you in shallow water used to get some crumps of your breakfast. The island has lovely blue water which invites you to all kinds of water sport and recreation.

Dive 2 brought us to Malaban Landslide. Two smaller Galapagos sharks were cruising away from us, good fish life here, jacks, trevallies, angel, butterfly fish some surgeons. Not much growth on the boulders. Dive guide is always in front with a yellow rash jersey to make sure you won´t get lost. Groups of 6 divers with buddy teams can cruise around a bit. The rule is back on board with 50 bar. We found some big brownish creature, a sea hare? Lobsters were looking out of their holes, some small black and brown reef fish spreading his dorsal fin with spikes and always trying to drive you away from his space on the reef, a Spanish dancer in daylight, amazing. Turtles passed by on every dive.
On Lord Howe a maximum of 400 guests a day are allowed, a good idea I find. You will never find any place being crowded. Aussie meals in some good restaurants are mouthwatering creations sometimes not quite enough for hungry divers without side orders. One night I had fresh oyster yummy, salmon on buttered asparagus, hmmm. Racks of lamp, ribs and fish and chips you will find nearly everywhere.

Balls Pyramid, a must do, on my last diving day, is a good one hour away from the main island. Would it be highlight and climax? Breathtaking and impressive the view on the surface, a sheer cliff more of a needle pinnacle sticking out of the ocean high into the sky above, sea birds all around it. Would underwater offer the same? A dolphin joined us on our way to the Pyramid, omen? When I dropped in at Observation my first idea was – a divers paradise. Fish in abundance everywhere around us, I spotted Leopard Trigger, Amberjack, sweetlips, surgeons, eels, some endemic fish only here to find called Ballena Angel Fish, lobster running free on the reef, inside a canyon thousands of tiny glass fish, a sting ray asleep in the sand, boulders and ravines reaching down into the deep blue inviting the adventurous diver to follow. The 50 min dive passed way too fast to digest and enjoy all sightings. Conditions on the surface were a bit tricky then, choppy seas, a swell reaching down, changing currents, nothing for beginners. Dive 2 Wheat Sheets had less fish but a good wall with black coral 2 sharks a sting ray coming up to us during safety stop. Then it was good bye to Balls Pyramid, an adventure really worth visiting, without it I would have missed an important part of L. H. dives.
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