The five-star Pinetrees experience is a combination of our authentic family hospitality and friendly staff, our sensational food and wine, our lovely accommodation, our location on Lagoon Beach, and our close proximity to the island’s attractions and activities (there are 12 beaches within a 10-minutes bike ride from Pinetrees). The ‘X factor’, though, is what happens when guests have no access to mobile phones, WiFi and TVs. Instead of ‘cocooning’ in their rooms or staring at their devices, guests start to talk to each other. Add a few drinks, a spectacular sunset, and an adventurous day and – often for the first time in years – people make new friends.
A typical day at Pinetrees starts with a yoga class, a swim in the lagoon and a hot shower in the boatshed before breakfast. Other guests will watch the sunrise, photograph rare birds, walk along Blinky Beach or teach their kids how to ride a bike.
At breakfast, Pinetrees staff will help you make plans for the day. Depending on the weather forecast, wind direction and your general level of enthusiasm, our staff can suggest where to go and what to do. If you plan to go out for the day, then we’ll arrange for a BBQ hamper to be delivered to one of the many idyllic spots on the island. We’ll even pack beer, wine or champagne if you’d prefer a lazy lunch.
Mornings are a great time to discover our world-class snorkelling, fishing, diving, surfing and walking. There are user-friendly or challenging options, depending on your experience. Some guests make big plans, but never get past our local cafe, Anchorage. They serve great coffee, fresh cakes and pastries, and their sourdough bread is excellent.
A classic morning walk is the short climb to Kims Lookout. After 40 minutes of climbing through sub-tropical forest, you emerge on the top of a 200m vertical cliff. Below is the most amazing water – cobalt blue is one description of the colour – and thousands of seabirds that nest in the cliff caves. The scene could be straight from a David Attenborough documentary. In fact it was. He once wrote that Lord Howe is “so extraordinary it is almost unbelievable … Few islands, surely, can be so accessible, so remarkable, yet so unspoilt”. The birds and cobalt blue water are only in one direction. When you turn 180 degrees, you get another amazing vista – the entire Lord Howe Island lagoon with its spectacular shades of blue, and two of the most dramatic mountains in Australia.
After your descent, it’s worth a quick detour to Neds Beach for a swim. Neds is the famous snorkelling and fish-feeding beach, where you can feed enormous schools of fish in knee-deep water. It’s one of the great learning experiences of Lord Howe. The diversity of fish and coral species within 50 metres of the beach is exceptional, and it’s safe for all ages.
As you ride your bike back to Pinetrees for lunch, everyone waves to you – locals in cars, visitors on bikes and women pushing prams. You wonder if there’s something wrong. It turns out that Lord Howe is a friendly place where it’s cultural practice to wave to people, even if you see them five times a day. By the end of your trip, it will be second nature. You may even wave to random people on the mainland when you get home, but it won’t last long.
Lunch is simple and light – perhaps a paella, quiche or duck spring rolls with fresh salads and homemade soy and linseed bread. The Pinetrees verandah is a beautiful place for a meal. It’s cool, breezy and surrounded by green lawn and Kentia palm forest.
After lunch, you take a 20 minute bike ride and then a 20 minute walk along the edge of the lagoon to Little Island – probably the most spectacular place on the island. When you emerge from the dark forest of Kentia palms and Banyan trees, you’ll be dwarfed by 400 vertical metres of cliffs and another 300 vertical metres of forested slopes that lead to the summit ridge of Mt Lidgbird. It’s just like Bora Bora and Kauai, except that it’s untouched by humans. To put the height in perspective, the summit of Mt Lidgbird is more than twice the height of Sydney’s Centrepoint Tower. At the base of the mountains is the place where the outer reef connects to the island, with open ocean on one side and lagoon on the other. The water colours range from turquoise blue to cobalt blue, and just beneath is coral reef that’s teeming with life, texture and colour. If you time your visit to Little Island to coincide with the late afternoon light, then you’ll see the entire landscape turn yellow, orange or pink. If you listened to our advice at lunch, you’d have a half bottle of champagne to celebrate being in such an amazing place.
Back at Pinetrees, afternoon tea is underway and guests are eating mango, lime and coconut cakes and comparing stories about the adventures of the day. A few guests opt for an early happy hour, while some others retire for a siesta in preparation for dinner.
By 6.00pm the Pinetrees boatshed deck is the place to be. Our honesty bar fridge stocks beer, wine and champagne and all you need to do is write your name on the sheet of paper. There aren’t many honesty systems left in Australia, even the famous fruit stands in the Byron Bay hinterland have disappeared, but the Pinetrees boatshed fridge continues. With your drink of choice, a friendly invitation to join whoever’s sitting there already, and a beautiful sunset brewing, you’ll find yourself talking to anyone and everyone. It’s that kind of place.
With twilight gone and the local shearwaters in their burrows, guests will wander back to the Pinetrees verandah for dinner. It will have been transformed from the relaxed table settings at lunch to something a little more refined. Your entree is a chicken broth with creamed corn and seared scallops. You’ve got a half bottle of chilled Freycinet Riesling left from the night before that we’ve returned to your table. It’s a perfect match for the soup. For your main course, you choose the crispy skin duck leg braised in masterstock with Asian greens, wild mushrooms and Hoisin glaze. The duck goes well with a bottle of Lowburn Ferry Pinot Noir. For dessert, you choose the almond and cherry tart with pomegranate sabayon. You’ll probably hear guests talking about how much they love not having to shop, cook or clean up, and how amazed they are by the quality of the food. We know, because we hear the same comments every day.
After seven days like this, you’ll return home feeling rejuvenated. It’s a unique experience and one that many guests return for every year.