Norfolk Island

Is this Australia’s best-kept secret?

In Articles, Islands & Beaches by The H4C Team

Featured image: Norfolk Island Tourism

You won’t need a passport to enjoy this South Pacific paradise. Or even a long-haul flight to discover a tiny isle steeped in rich history and megawatt scenery. Welcome to Norfolk Island, Australia’s best-kept secret (and just a two-hour flight from Brisbane or Sydney!). 

Located between Australia and New Zealand, Norfolk is a little-or-a-lot kind of holiday destination with postcard views around every bend. You’ll soon see why Captain James Cook called this “paradise” when he chanced upon the iconic pine trees in 1774! Laze the day away on a deserted beach, snorkel the reef, roam rainforest trails, sample the outstanding local seafood or slip away for a massage. Ahhh, island life.

Couples will also love the feeling of calm and space that comes with a distinct lack of crowds (only around 1,800 people call Norfolk home). It’s an invitation to genuinely relax, re-connect and follow your own path. And on that note, if you’re looking for somewhere unique to pledge “I do with a view”, consider these jaw-dropping backdrops. A memorable choice for an intimate elopement, destination wedding or renewal of vows, Norfolk is home to an experienced wedding community to help coordinate your island event.  

New to Norfolk? Don’t worry, we’ve shortlisted 5 highlights to suit every couple style and tracked down a romantic new package perfect for two.

Norfolk Island
No crowds, no light pollution, no passport required!
  1. For the explorers

Norfolk offers a fascinating juxtaposition for visitors: English country charm meets vivid island beauty, all overlaid with the fresh scent of pine trees. Rather than a ring road around the perimeter, the 8 x 6-kilometre isle is criss-crossed by hilly walking trails and scenic gravel roads where traffic lights are non-existent and cows enjoy right of way. Just like the pace of island life, traffic is laid-back here, so you’ll always find a parking spot, a lookout, or a cove all to yourselves. 

For a memorable bushwalk, start at Captain Cook’s Monument in the far north of the island and wind your way through the national park to the 360-degree views of Mount Pitt. Or follow our local tip and feel the love at the St. Barnabas Chapel (circa 1880) where all are welcome to attend services or just stop by to admire the delightful architecture. Completed by the Melanesian mission using stone from the ruins of the New Gaol, the roof is modelled on a ship’s hull while inside a pipe organ, stained glass, carved timbers, marble and mother o’ pearl detailing set an unforgettable scene.

Norfolk Island
Road trip ready! Norfolk’s compact size is perfect for a short break. Photo: Norfolk Island Tourism

2. For the food-lovers
Norfolk may just be Australia’s first paddock-to-plate destination, where ‘locally sourced’ is not just a buzzword but a centuries-old way of life. Exceptional produce and seafood scooped straight from the Pacific mean the local cafes and restaurants offer top-notch cuisine across a range of foodie preferences. Want to meet the makers? Hit the Farmer’s Markets, held every Saturday in the centre of the main ‘town’ of Burnt Pine (where you can also shop local art, crafts, toys, shoes and other tax-free treats) or enjoy a taste of the real Norfolk lifestyle on a Progressive Dinner which takes you to three lovely homes across the island. 

The Hilli Restaurant and Café is also a must see. ‘Hilli’ is actually a word from the unique Norfolk language meaning “a drowsy, lazy feeling” which is how you’ll feel after enjoying the delicious flavours and beautiful gardens surrounds of this local fave. After dark, book a table at the excellent Homestead Restaurant, set in the 1930s home of Kurt and Jill Menghetti, where a wood-fuelled Argentinian Perilla grill serves as the heart of the kitchen. Night owls? Don’t worry, late-night cocktails await at a handful of atmospheric local bars.

norfolk island
Norfolk offers a romantic sense of escape, just two hours from Australia.

3. For the sunset-chasers & stargazers
Clear skies ahead. That’s right, Norfolk Island has no streetlights and almost zero light pollution. Meaning it’s perfect for a spot of stargazing. Cruise the coast to find your favourite west-coast clifftop (Anson Point is awesome or try Headstone Reserve) and settle in for Norfolk’s fabled sunset. After a day of exploring, we highly recommend unpacking a gourmet Champagne picnic as the sunset colours streak across the sky and the stars begin to shine. So romantic. 

norfolk island
Discover a secret South Pacific paradise.

4. For the beach babes
While you can’t actually land a boat on Norfolk Island’s shores (there’s no port or harbour) due to dramatic seas, the gorgeous bays, gin-clear waters, and historic stone jetties provide plenty of inspiration for beach lovers. Follow the local swimmers south to the pristine waters of Emily Bay, protected from the Pacific Ocean by a small coral reef, where a permanently anchored ‘raft’ offers a delightful focal point. The iconic Lone Pine overlooking the bay also makes for an Insta-ready photo op. And if you’re seeking a unique swimming experience, head to the naturally formed Crystal Rock Pools at the south-west tip of the island. They’re worth the very steep climb down.

norfolk island
Rich in history and natural beauty, this island is full of surprises. Photo: Norfolk Island Tourism

5. For the history-buffs
Norfolk Island is woven through with dramatic seafaring stories and haunting convict tales. While Polynesians are believed to have stopped by during the 11th and 14th centuries, the first European contact came during Captain Cook’s second voyage to the South Pacific and the island was eventually settled just weeks after the First Fleet arrived in Sydney. Norfolk’s convict past is still palpable, especially around the World Heritage-listed Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic areas in the south, where Georgian-era buildings and the ruins of convict settlements, prisons, military barracks echo with tales of those turbulent years. Head up to Kingston’s Queen Elizabeth Lookout for the best views (which include the island’s nine-hole oceanside golf course).

The island is now home to a vibrant ‘Norf’k’ culture – dating back to the infamous mutineers of the HMS Bounty and their Tahitian wives – which brings together Polynesian customs and British traditions in signature Norfolk style. Many locals speak a unique UNESCO-recognised Old English/Tahitian language and are happy to share stories of their beautiful island home.

Getting there: Fly directly to Norfolk Island via Brisbane and Sydney’s international airports (connecting flights available from other domestic capitals). You won’t need a passport, but you can enjoy duty-free shopping!

Here’s the perfect package

We’ve found a stellar all-inclusive package to help you enjoy the best of Norfolk with the one you love. The Romance in Paradise package includes return economy airfares; accommodation; car hire; and a swag of exclusive experiences. We’re talking your very own personalised Island Explorer tour with an experienced local guide, an indulgent one-hour massage, a premier dining experience at the Homestead Restaurant, and a sumptuous daily breakfast from the Golden Orb Café which you can eat-in or take to one of the island’s famous cliff-tops. 

More info: Make the Norfolk Island Travel Centre your first port of call. They’re the local experts who can organise the Romance in Paradise package, customise an itinerary to your personal style, and clue you up on where to eat, stay and explore this little slice of paradise.