Whether it’s staying at a Unesco World Heritage-listed island, such as Lord Howe Island, or the historic Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage at Montague Island, here are some ideas for island getaways near Sydney.
1. Lord Howe Island
An idyllic paradise with luxury eco lodges, family-friendly guesthouses and modern self-contained apartments, Lord Howe Island welcomes just 400 visitors at any time. The island, with its rugged volcanic peaks, lush forests, rolling surf and serene lagoons, is encircled by the world’s most southerly coral reef and the crystal clear waters make it perfect for swimming, snorkelling, diving, kayaking, fishing, surfing and paddle boarding.
Just 15 minutes by boat from the island rests an intriguing group of volcanic formations, the Admiralty Islands. Large pinnacles, coral reefs and larger schools of fish attract divers to the 25 dive sites scattered around the atolls which are considered some of Australia’s best diving spots.
2. Cockatoo Island
Cockatoo Island offers waterfront camping in the heart of Sydney. Easily one of the world’s most picturesque campsites, the waterfront glamping and camping sites provide unobstructed views of Sydney. The largest island in Sydney Harbour, Cockatoo Island forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Australian convict sites. With a fascinating history, it has become a regular site for movie filming. The island has plenty of activities to keep you entertained – cafes, audio tours, events, kayak and boat hire, and swimming in the slipway. Accessible by ferry and water taxi, the island also offers accommodation in self-contained heritage houses in the heart of the island.
3. Montague Island
Off the coast of Narooma on the South Coast is Montague Island, a national park where visitors can spend a night in the restored Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage. Accessible via tour boat from Narooma, the operator will drop you off and pick you up the next day so you’ll have the island all to yourself for the night. See the capital’s largest colony of Australian and New Zealand fur seals; Montague Island is home to hundreds of seals and more than 90 bird species along its shoreline. Tour operators can arrange snorkelling with seals, and visits to the lighthouse and penguin and seal colonies.
4. Broughton Island
For an off the beaten track camping experience, pitch a tent at one of five campsites on the beautiful Broughton Island, off the coast of Port Stephens. Little Poverty Beach is the only place in New South Wales where you can camp among an active seabird colony, while Esmeralda Cove offers plenty of opportunities for scuba diving, fishing and snorkelling and swimming at its sandy beaches. Accessible by private boat only, tour operators in Port Stephens can drop you off and pick you up. With only five campsites, make sure you book ahead through New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.
5. Dangar Island
Located in the middle of the Hawkesbury River, Dangar Island is just an hour’s train ride from Sydney and conveniently accessible by ferry. A perfect weekend away, the island has plenty of luxurious, accessed by river only, properties to choose from. Home to just one cafe and a bowling club, spend your days exploring the island on foot or bicycle, and swimming, fishing and kayaking in the sparkling waters.
6. Scotland Island
On Sydney’s Northern Beaches is the beautiful Scotland Island on Pittwater. Accessible by the Church Point Ferry, book a stay in a holiday house and enjoy bushwalking to secluded bays. Alternatively, hire a yacht and bareboat your way around Pittwater and the Hawkesbury, stopping at islands along the way.
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.