Ocean and lagoon beaches

Ersotts reef

Lord Howe Island's sandy beaches are on the western lagoon shore and in three limited sections on the eastern side.  The fringing reef about one kilometre offshore protects the beaches from the ocean swell.

  • Old Settlement Beach and North Beach at the lagoon's northern end are the most sheltered beach environments as they are also protected by headlands.
  • Lagoon Beach extends for about 3 km along much of the lagoon's central and southern coastline.

Sandy beaches are naturally dynamic, changing seasonally as winter storms remove sand from the beach and summer weather returns it.

Sandy beach shallows are important nursery and feeding areas for fish and invertebrate species.

Beaches are key feeding and roosting sites for seabirds and migratory wading birds.


Estuaries Soldiers Creek, Cobbys Creek and Old Settlement Creek border the lagoon. They contain two species of mangrove and small saltmash stands on the fringes.

Sheltered lagoons

The lagoon has a diverse range of habitats and species, with distinct habitats including intertidal reefs, subtidal reefs, lagoonal holes, subtidal sand, intertidal sand (beaches) and seagrass.

These habitats are important nursery and feeding areas for birds, fish and invertebrates.


North Bay contains one of the park's most extensive seagrass beds.  The beds are located in the sheltered area of the bay, and provide:

  • foraging habitat for sea turtles and various invertebrates;
  • key breeding grounds for the eastern sea garfish;
  • nursery grounds for juvenile fish.

The intertidal flats of the seagrass habitats:

  • are important for the migrating birds that congregate on Lord Howe Island, including the northern hemisphere whimbrels, bar-tailed godwits, ruddy turnstones, Pacific golden plovers and tattlers and the New Zealand double-banded plovers;
  • support a variety of invertebrates, fish and migratory birds.


Subtidal reef habitats dominate the Lord Howe Island coastline, Balls Pyramid and the smaller islands and islets.

The inshore reef systems include:

  • true coral reefs in the lagoon's protected environments on Lord Howe Island's western side;
  • rocky reefs in other parts of the park with a shallow cover of coral growth.

The lagoon contains world's most southerly true coral reefs.

  • Erscotts, Comet's and Sylphs Holes are among the main sites of these reefs in the park.
  • Protected, threatened and endemic species are found at these sites.

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