10 Unmissable Things To Do In Lifou
The largest of the incredible Loyalty Islands, a visit to Lifou is sure to be one that you won’t forget in a hurry. Discover ten unmissable things to do in Lifou and start planning how you’ll spend your time on this beautiful South Pacific island!
Soak up the view from Notre Dame de Lourdes
Constructed in 1898 to commemorate the arrival of Catholic missionaries in New Caledonia, the Notre Dame de Lourdes stands as a reminder of Lifou’s history. Located close to Easo, the chapel and its bright white walls overlook the ocean below, cutting a striking figure in an area otherwise covered in greenery. Take a walk up to the chapel and enjoy the opportunity to embrace the serenity. The viewing platform located close to the chapel is well worth visiting too, offering panoramic views towards Jinek Bay and beyond. Even if you aren’t religious, a visit to the chapel rewards you with lovely historic architecture and even better views.
Browse the stalls of the Wharfside Markets
If you’re arriving in Lifou by cruise ship, the open-air Wharfside Markets are likely to be one of the first attractions you’ll encounter. Filled with stalls run by locals, the markets offer the chance to rub shoulders with the people who call Lifou home and ease into island life. Enjoy a taste of the local cuisine, discover the beauty of locally produced arts and crafts, and stock up on souvenirs for your friends and family back home. Whether you’re wanting to learn more about life in Lifou or find the perfect items to remember your visit for years to come, the Wharfside Markets are a great starting point. Be sure to keep an eye out for traditional dances and performances held during your visit too - they provide a good introduction to the island’s rich culture.
Enjoy a tribal homestay
If you’re wanting to really immerse yourself in the local way of life, you can’t pass up a tribal homestay while visiting Lifou. Stay overnight in a traditional Melanesian hut and enjoy the opportunity to try local dishes, learn about Kanak customs and gain a greater understanding of what makes this South Pacific culture so special. New Caledonia’s Kanak people are warm and friendly, and you’re sure to feel right at home. Be sure to take along a small gift to your host as a sign of respect.
Go snorkelling at Jinek Bay Marine Reserve
Home to crystal clear waters, a variety of corals and a wide array of colourful fish, Lifou’s Jinek Bay Marine Reserve is a great place to slip on your snorkel and encounter the incredible world that exists below the surface. Said to offer some of the best snorkelling in the South Pacific, only 200 lucky visitors (100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon) are permitted to enter the marine reserve each day, helping to ensure the ecosystem remains relatively untouched by human activity. Enjoy the opportunity to explore at your own pace and marvel at the marine life that calls the sheltered bay home.
Visit a vanilla plantation
Although vanilla plantations can now be found across the archipelago, New Caledonia’s vanilla industry made its start in Lifou during the mid-19th century. During a visit to Lifou, you can visit several of the plantations scattered across the island and see where the ‘brown gold’ is grown and harvested. Learn about the process of pollination, what happens when it’s time to start harvesting and how the plant is turned into all manner of delicious goods.
Unwind on Luengoni Beach and explore the Grotte les Joyaux de Luengoni
If you’re dreaming of white sand beaches and vibrant azure waters, Luengoni Beach certainly deserves a place on your island itinerary. While the waters that lap the fine white sands appear richly coloured, they are incredibly clear, giving you a clear line of sight direct to the sea floor, perfect for a spot of snorkelling. Discover the diverse marine species that call the waters home, from turtles to native fish and take the time to swim out to the impressive boulders that pepper the bay. To the west of Lifou’s Luengoni Beach, you’ll find the Grotte les Joyaux de Luengoni, a collection of underground caves filled with turquoise waters. Recommended for experienced hikers and best experienced with the assistance of a guide, the grottos are both captivating and incredibly beautiful. Pack your swimmers and some basic diving gear and you’ll be able to experience this natural attraction in its full glory. Pack a torch and see how the waters appear a stunning emerald green in the light.
Admire the scale of the Jokin Cliffs
Towering over the glittering waters below, the Jokin Cliffs provide a window into the island’s formation, allowing you to see the layers of fossilised coral that slowly led to the development of the island’s current shape. Standing close to 60 metres in places, the cliffs are not only beautiful in their own right, but they also provide some fantastic views out across the ocean. If you happen to visit during their annual migration, be sure to keep an eye out for whales passing the island. If you’re looking to get more from your visit, make your way to the foot of the cliffs for some great diving or snorkelling in lovely clear waters.
Sample the local cuisine
There’s no better introduction to a new destination than a taste of the local cuisine, and this certainly rings true for Lifou. If you happen to arrive on the island close to lunch time, make a beeline to the Wharfside Markets to try a variety of local favourites. If you’re lucky, you’ll even have the chance to try bougna, a traditional dish of meat and island yams bundled up in banana leaves and slow cooked in an authentic ground oven, or some sumptuous coconut crab.
Take a drive to Peng Beach
Located around 30 minutes drive from Easo, Peng Beach offers a little slice of South Pacific paradise to those who take the time to journey to its shores. A small bay lined with white sands and crystal clear waters, it’s rare to find more than a few people admiring its beauty at any one time. Take a dip in the warm South Pacific waters, laze on soft sands, or simply take the time to soak up the serenity of this secluded locale. More than worth the effort taken to reach this special coastal spot, you’ll quickly discover what makes Peng Beach one of New Caledonia’s most beautiful beaches.
Discover Saqea Cave with Jeanne Passil
Trained as a guide in New Zealand, local woman Jeanne Passil leads small group tours through the captivating Saqea Cave. Don a helmet and headlamp and follow Jeanne as she leads you through glittering groves of stalactites and stalagmites. Taking around two hours to complete, the tour allows you to discover awe-inspiring vaulted ceilings, narrow passageways and natural formations throughout the cave. Be sure to take the time to look up and admire the beauty of your surroundings - there’s nothing quite like it! A good level of physical fitness is recommended, as are good walking shoes.
Looking for the perfect addition to your holiday itinerary? Learn more about Lifou and the incredible destinations scattered across New Caledonia.