Agreeing on a vacation destination can be a nearly impossible task. Your mind is on the beach—it’s always on the beach. You could island hop for the rest of your life and still get excited about the new beaches you get to explore on each one. But your husband is a mountain guy, who can’t sit still on the sand. Together, you seem doomed to alternate between your preference and his, with one of you always looking forward to the next trip. Until you hear about Norfolk Island.
Norfolk Island sits in the South Pacific, northeast of Sydney and northwest of Auckland. Small, sheltered beaches dot the coastline. Turquoise water and vibrant coral reefs surround the Australian territory. Sounds good to you. But it’s also full of pine trees, vertical cliffs, and a national park, where hiking trails have been carved into the volcanic mountains. They may not be as strenuous as Mount Everest, but they’ll certainly keep your husband occupied.
Norfolk Island sits on the Norfolk Ridge, an underwater ridge that stretches from New Zealand to New Caledonia. It’s three islands—smaller Nepean Island and Phillip Island are considered part of Norfolk Island—were used as a penal colony in the 18th and 19th centuries. Kingston, the little capital, has four museums, the prison ruins, and the prison cemetery to prove it. The island has been quiet since the last prisoners were shipped to Tasmania in 1855.
Wake up early to start hiking the Old Mountain Track. You wind your way up Mount Pitt, the island’s second-highest peak, past the remnants of a gun emplacement and critically endangered Norfolk parakeets. You’re rewarded with a view over the entire island, with Phillip Island in the distance. Follow the Summit Track along the tea-tree-forest ridge between Mount Pitt and Mount Bates (the highest peak) for panoramic views of the coast. Then pass Norfolk Island Pines and white oaks on the Bridle Track along the coast and stay on the lookout for sei whales, dolphins, and whale sharks.
By this time, even your husband should be ready for a break. Make your way to Emily Bay, where you can relax on the golden sand and see the coral through the clear water. Go snorkeling with schools of colorful fish in Slaughter Bay. Or climb down the steep cliff to Anson Bay, a hidden surfing spot. Then celebrate your mutually rewarding vacation with a glass of Verdelho at Two Chimneys Wines. Yes, this little South Pacific island even has a winery. For the first time, neither one of you is looking toward your next trip.