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“Amazing snorkelling!”
Review of Lifou Island

Ranked #1 of 10 things to do in Lifou
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level 6 Contributor
138 reviews
81 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
“Amazing snorkelling!”
Reviewed January 3, 2013

I was surprised how many locals were waiting for us ashore. There were market stalls, hair braiding, massage (slightly more expensive than last stop), and quite a lot of food for sale. I headed uphill to the road, turned left, and walked to Notre-Dame de Lourde.

They say it's a 25 minute walk. I don't think it is but it certainly felt that long in jandles and in the still heat! It was a pretty walk though with the butterflies dancing through the air. I found myself wishing for a bicycle. The road ended at a small parking area.

The rest of the path to the church is an uphill climb up rough hewn steps. I was glistening in the heat by the time I go to the top. It's interesting seeing a local adaptation to the whitewashed Catholic church; as you walk up there are two carved totem poles that retain their curved tree branch shape. The carvings on them are a mix of tribal designs and Catholic motifs (like a cross bearing nunl. Apparently the church is quite lovely inside but it was locked today.

Walking back I decided to explore the side road going downhill. So glad that I did! It led to Jinek Bay; labelled by the locals as the Aquarium. There is no beach; rather there are man made stairs going down into the water and signs all along the approach instructing you not to wear sunscreen or other oils in the water and not to feed the fish. This is a natural beauty that they wiah to preserve; a difficult task with thousands of cruise passengers coming through this end of the island.

The water was gorgeously warm for swimming to cool off. I couldn't see anything though without my snorkel set so headed back to the boat for an early turkey lunch followed by returning kitted out in long gym leggings and a rash shirt. Not the sexiest swimming attire but it meant I wasn't polluting the bay or frying to a crisp.

I spent about an hour and a half snorkelling before getting chilled enough to return to shore. It was the most incredible place I've snorkelled anywhere on the trip and once more I lack the words to describe it.
The bay is protected by headlands on each side and was completely still today. No wind, no waves, no currents to worry about. The coral is everywhere and grows to mammoth proportions. The cliffs are worn slightly underneath creating overhangs and tunnels at water level. The number of different species of fish is beyond belief. I have no idea what they are. Next cruise I need to take a fish spotting guide! They are beautiful though in all their odd variety. There's one that reminds me of a one-handed sword - long and eel like with a narrow elongated sword-handle of a 'nose'. There are starfish and sea cucumbers and clams with designer fashion lips; my favourite was a neon green and black.
I swim all the way out to the end of one headland and then swim towards the middle of the bay before cautiously swimming out over even deeper waters. The clarity of the water is amazing. I'm able to swim out over the shelf to where the water suddenly drops away two or three storey below me and I can still see the fish at the bottom. The fish continue to be a range of sizes out here but I finally spot some of the larger Snapper sized fish at these depths. No sign of sea snakes or sharks but there are entire schools of fish. They range in size and the smallest look like silver glitter dancing in the water.

I go swimming later in the afternoon at the beach by the tender wharf. This is completely different: a tree-lined sandy beach with small waves from the wind and no fish to be seen (though some passengers have spotted them snorkelling at the end of the bay by the cliffs).

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
23 Thank NixieNZ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Sydney, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“Fantastic Snorkeling”
Reviewed December 21, 2012

Watch the exchange rate when you arrive at the island. The people offering tours unashamedly round up the rate to benefit themselves and overcharge so much! They will accept Australian dollars, which we did not know until after we arrived, which makes life easier. You do not have to get a tour guide to have an amazing snorkel experience. Once you arrive, follow the road up the hill a short distance and turn left (right heads you to the church). Walk about 5 mins along the road till it forks. Take the right hand fork and you will be at a rocky lagoon like area. There are clean toilets here (unlike other places in New Caledonia). You climb down the rocks and on to either rough stairs, or wooden steps, and into the warm ocean and instantly be amazed at the coral and fish. This is the BEST place in NC to snorkel. Go out as far as you can, off sea ledges and be amazed. It was like a scene from a movie! The white sand makes the water impossibly blue. I could not count the different types of fish I saw. The colours are surreal! We loved this place and would return again. Take reef shoes as there is a lot of coral in the sand and just under the grass on land.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
38 Thank susieque29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Australia
Level 6 Contributor
112 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“Good for snorkeling”
Reviewed December 21, 2012

Spent a day here on a Royal Carribbean cruise. Laid back island with very basic amenities. Main attraction is the snorkeling in the crystal clear blue waters. Head to the far side of the island for the best location. The locals will set up a basic market selling souveniers, baguettes and hair braiding. No transport and you will have to walk everywhere. It is quite hilly but if you are feeling fit make the trek to the 2 main churches. Otherwise take it easy and spend the day in the water.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank AustraliaKel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Adelaide, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
110 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
“Transport shortage”
Reviewed November 10, 2012

We had one day in Lifou whilst on a cruise. We had planned to explore the island, however there was a dire shortage of transport options available unless you got off the ship very early, so we spent the day snorkelling and swimming at nearby beaches. I was dissappointed that we couldn't see more of the island - there is a great business waiting there for some enterprising locals if they were to organize tours including the caves, best beaches, best views, and lunch in the town of Wey.
The beaches are beautiful and the water crystal clear - lots of fish and coral. Make sure you have reef shoes with you. Great little market selling clothing, souvenirs and food where the tender docks.
The best way to properly explore Lifou, would be to spend a few days on the island and hire a car.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
7 Thank instyle11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cairns, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
56 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Lifou”
Reviewed October 15, 2012

We stopped here for the day during a 'Week Fantastique' cruise with P&O cruises in 2011. It's a beautiful island and we found that it didn't take too long to complete most of the walks available. As you arrive at the island, there is a small local 'market' where you can buy gifts to take home and some of these were quite reasonably priced and were very cute. People on the island were very friendly and the place has such a laid-back feeling. We did not visit any of the restaurants or purchase food (the stuff at the market looked a bit sketchy) but saw that there were quite a few options available. The only thing I wish we'd known before we got there was that the beach is covered in tiny shells, so make sure you wear shoes! The walk to the chapel is well worth it.

Visited November 2011
Helpful?
8 Thank Kate H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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