Lord Howe Island is a true Pacific dream, with emerald green mountains, white sand beaches and a shimmering turquoise lagoon. The most southern coral reef in the world is found here and its biological diversity is extraordinary. Lord Howe Island and its surrounding waters form part of a World Heritage site, the Lord Howe Island Marine Park and the Lord Howe Island Commonwealth Marine Reserve, which means that the 500 fish species and 90 coral species live fully protected and in perfect harmony with each other.
A door to a whole new world opens up under the sea on Lord Howe Island and it’s an experience of a lifetime to see it up close. Snorkelling at Comets Hole, Erscotts Hole, Sylphs Hole or Neds Beach is the perfect way to get started. Scuba diving in any of the many superb dive sites surrounding the island is simply world class.
The best part is that you don’t have to be a certified diver to experience it. Pro-dive Lord Howe Island, one of Australia’s best diving operators, offers introductory dives, where you get to experience the feeling of diving without having to complete a PADI Open Water course first.
I book in for a session, grab my bike and head towards the Pro-dive boatshed. I’m so exited and also a bit nervous. I have never had the chance to scuba dive before so this is a big deal for me. Three other exited first timers and myself start our three-hour mini scuba diving session with owner, skipper and instructor Aaron Ralph. We watch a PADI scuba diving introductory video and get our gear ready. Where others have to practise their skills in an oversized tank, we get to go straight out in the clear salty water of the lagoon from the very beginning. Taking those first few breaths under water is a life-changing moment for everyone and Aaron gently teaches us skills in preparation for the next step – a tour outside the reef on the “Pinnacle”, the purpose-built dive boat.
We anchor somewhere off Middle Beach and down we go. Before I know it, we’ve reached the bottom some 8 metres under the surface and everything is much calmer and clearer than what I expected it to be. Coral, fish, sharks… the world down there is so extraordinary that 25 minutes pass by way too quickly. Dive master Dave eventually signals that the dive is coming to an end and we prepare to surface. I feel more complete and happier that I could ever imagine. I’ll never forget what one of the other divers said almost in disbelief as soon as he came back on board: “The reef is so healthy. It’s just so healthy. Wow.” From that moment on I knew that there was more to this experience than self-achievement and joy. I realised that we were also incredibly lucky to experience such a healthy and vibrant marine environment. Today, I will forever be grateful for having experienced the under-water world.