A tiny speck in the South Pacific Ocean, Norfolk Island lies a 2.5-hour flight from the East Coast of Australia. It once served as a convict penal settlement under British rule, with a permanent civilian populated established in 1856. It is renowned for its iconic Norfolk Island pines and jagged cliffs, with sheltered swimming waters protected by an outer reef.The capital, Kingston, is home to the Norfolk Island Museum, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the island’s past. Learn about the East Polynesians who first settled the island and the harsh conditions for convicts following British colonization. Then tour the ruins of its old settlements and jail in the Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area.
A third of the island is protected as national parks or reserves, with plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails to explore. Take in the sweeping views over the palm forests from Mount Pitt in Norfolk Island National Park, which is home to Norfolk Island palms and the smooth tree-fern, the tallest of its kind in the world.
While much of the coast is rugged and rocky, there are a number of secluded coves and sandy beaches to relax on. Head to beautiful Emily Bay to swim in the protected waters or go snorkeling and diving in the offshore coral reefs.
Norfolk Island and neighboring Nepean Island are outstanding birding areas, supporting the entire known populations of white-chested and slender-billed white-eyes, as well as Norfolk parakeets and Norfolk gerygones. Wedge-tailed shearwaters and red-tailed tropicbirds also breed here, together with Australasian gannets and Kermadec petrels.