The Locals' Guide - Lord Howe Island


A plain beach

Posted by Pinetrees Lodge – Friday, May 25, 2018

Lagoon Beach on Lord Howe Island

Contributed by Denis Corcoran: It’s officially the smallest beach on Lord Howe Island. Yet, it’s one of the most visible and at the same time one of the most discreet - a sandy oxymoron of sorts. At only 30sqm, and facing north to capture the sun, the lateral view stretches from the base of Mount Gower to the North Head rocks. It’s a full 180 degrees of uninterrupted lagoon splendidness.

This tiny enclave of golden sand is so private that the only people gawking at you will be the eyes from the sky, 30 pairs of them, encased in a hunk of metal in the form of a Qantas Dash-8.

Welcome to Runway Beach - where you can almost stroke the underbelly of a plane with one hand and apply sunscreen to your own with the other. Lying flat on your back on the toasty crumbs of golden sand with your toes being tickled by the warm lagoon, this is no place for an ostrich, let alone an avid bird watcher. This is plane-spotting territory.

This is a place where you can literally see the fear of God in the pilots’ eyes on a windy day. Watching the show unfold, moments before the rubber touches tarmac, this is where it could all go wrong, but never does. Still, the rush of watching humans in control of technology versus the force of nature is palpable.

Within minutes of spotting the approaching black dot on the horizon, the peaceful, empty watermelon wedge of beach is alive with the roar of engines. The fresh air becomes tight with a twinge of anxious anticipation. Then when the rubber hits, the brakes lock in, the sound subsides and you’re just left sitting there pondering that moment… ‘holy moly, that plane just flew right over top of me!’

This is the stuff plane spotters live for. The giddy suspense as the roar of the twin engines comes into focus, the sparkling tint of the afternoon sun hitting the windscreen as she turns, signaling her descent and with it, your last chance to wipe the sweat from your brow.

The alternating flashing lights on the wings, the increasing roar of the looming hunk of metal hurtling towards you. The balancing act going on in the cockpit, the wheels unfolding, propellers whizzing, the flash of the hull, the human faces pressed up against the windows.

The customary Lord Howe Island wave on my behalf, seems inadequate, almost creepy, but appropriate.

Then the winged beast disappears, followed by an eerily still silence with diesel fumes tickling your nostril hairs. And just like that, this little slice of serenity at Runway Beach returns to normal. Yet there is nothing normal about lying on a golden sand beach and having a plane fly straight over top of you.

This isn’t any old plain beach.


The Locals’ Guide to Lord Howe Island is written by Denis Corcoran, Pia Funch, Luke Hanson, Geordie Tennant and Dani Rourke. We regularly visit the island’s iconic locations (and our secret spots) in different conditions, seasons and times of day (by foot, bike, kayak, boat and snorkel), and hope to share our experiences with you. If you need some travel inspiration, details on locations and the best activities, or just a brief online escape from your daily routine, then read our posts about life on Lord Howe Island.