I'm having trouble finding details of getting to Lord Howe Island other than by the expensive flights.

Wikipedia implies that the ship that brings supplies can also carry passengers, and searching the internet turns up more hints that this is the case.

But Wikitravel only covers arriving by air, and neither the site for the island itself nor the site for the supply ship seems to mention passengers.

So does this supply ship carry passengers and what is the fare? Perhaps it is restricted and special rules apply that we ought to know about?

P.S. I've discovered that there's also another ship which comes regularly but less frequently, called the Norfolk Guardian, but I haven't found much information about it so far either.

Here are some snippets I've found on the internet which suggest the supply ship Island Trader carries passengers (at least formerly/occasionally/exceptionally/etc):

  • Funny, I very nearly asked the same question. Were you reading news articles about Ball's Pyramid?
    – Mark Mayo
    Mar 1, 2012 at 22:40
  • 1
    Yes I sure was reading about the Lazarus species of enormous stick insects and that made me curious about Lord Howe Island generally. Mar 2, 2012 at 11:44
  • 1
    So, how about a link to the article(s), if you still have them?
    – hunter2
    Jul 25, 2013 at 9:01
  • 1
    The articles were about the rediscovery of a stick insect thought to be extinct, so not directly travel-related. This isn't the article I read, which was just something in Google News at the time, but it seems pretty similar: Australian endangered species: Lord Howe Island stick insect Jul 25, 2013 at 9:09
  • @MarkMayo: Should this old one be tagged with fares or price? Oct 29, 2014 at 12:07

4 Answers 4


Just contacted Island Trader, they said NO. Insurance etc was too difficult, and they no longer carry passengers. What a shame as this would be an awesome boat trip!


Island Trader will take you there, just contact the company, it's about a fifth of the price of a flight.. however, it is a rough trip, at least 36 hours or more, the boat rocks around a lot so if you get sea sick I would not recommend!

The other problem is that the boat leaves every fortnight, so it's not very frequent, usually on a Wednesday or Thursday and returns on Sunday or Monday depending on loading times. The vessel is also rather old so don't expect a cruise liner's luxury service, they won't make your bed for you and the bunks are rather old.

Other than that it's a good trip if you enjoy being at sea and want something different.

  • 3
    any contact links or websites for Island Trader?
    – Mark Mayo
    Sep 12, 2012 at 22:04
  • 3
    More recent answers below state that this company doesn't take passengers anymore, so it appears this answer is no longer correct. Aug 27, 2018 at 4:05

By far, the cheapest way to get to Lord Howe island is via air - paid for with Frequent Flyer points! Of course, that's true for most flights, but for these flights specifically the dollar value of using FF points is higher than any other flight I've ever found!

With Qantas FF points you'll need 8000 points for a flight that will normally cost more than $500 each way. You should also be able to book using FF points for any other OneWorld airline, where the prices could be higher or lower (eg, with BA Avios points it should be 4500 points). You'll probably have to book by phone with most airlines.

However there is a catch - due to it being such a good deal these flights go quick! You'll need to book a long way in advance to get them, especially if you want to get both the flight there and back on points. You may need to book one way on points, and then pay for the return.

To your initial question, there's no real options for going by boat. There is a regular freight service known as the Island Trader that runs every few weeks from Port Macquarie, but I'm fairly certain they don't take passengers. The only other option would be to try and secure a spot on a yacht from somewhere like Port Macquarie or Coffs Harbour, but your chances are at best slim, and the unpredictability would make booking accommodation on Lore Howe difficult at best.

  • 1
    Yes I'd heard (read) about the frequent flyer points trick but wanted to specifically know about getting there via surface travel. I might try to collect some of the snippets which hinted that the Island Trader sometimes/somehow carries passengers... Mar 3, 2012 at 10:47

I rang the Islander Trader and there is no passenger cargo. Maybe you could private charter a boat.

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