If your dream vacation is to fully escape from chaos and crowds, look no further than Lord Howe Island. This exclusive (and beautiful) island only lets in 400 people per night.
Lord Howe Island is located 500 miles off the coast of Sydney, Australia in the turquoise waters of the Tasman Sea. Part of a chain of islands, it was formed by an underwater volcanic eruption seven million years ago, according to National Geographic. It now now consists of caves, volcanic peaks, rock columns and the world's most southern coral reef.
Home to around 380 people, there are only 400 licensed tourist beds on Lord Howe, meaning only a limited number of visitors can take a trip to the island at any given time. As a result, the island's tourist accommodations are mainly bed and breakfasts and cottages. There are just a handful of hotels.
The cap is controlled by "bed licenses," issued by Lord Howe's governing board. (Only 400 bed licenses are doled out per year, and they're reportedly pricey, costing up to $100,000 each, according to Islands, an online travel publication.)
The tourist cap was one of several measures put in place to protect the island's delicate ecosystem, which is instrumental in conserving threatened species on the island, especially birds (like the flightless Lord Howe Woodhen, which was reportedly once regarded as one of the rarest birds in the world). Lord Howe Island was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage property in 1982.
"It is an area of spectacular and scenic landscapes encapsulated within a small land area, and provides important breeding grounds for colonies of seabirds as well as significant natural habitat for the conservation of threatened species," UNESCO says of the island on its site.
A tourist cap is sometimes implemented at destinations with delicate environments as a way to curb damage from visitors. Such is the case for another luxurious island in the Mediterranean Sea – Montecristo. That island, part of the Tuscan Archipelago, allows a maximum of 1,000 visitors per year in an effort to preserve its rich biodiversity.
Given Lord Howe's exclusivity, the most feasible way to reach it is by air. Flights depart most days from Sydney and weekend flights depart from Brisbane, Australia.
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