Five things to do on Lifou Island, New Caledonia

Jinek Bay Loyalty Islands
The magic waters of Jinek Bay

If you are heading to Lifou Island here are some great ideas to do that are kid friendly.

For the second time the children and I are ferried across from our floating hotel (the P & O Cruise Ship, the Pacific Dawn) to the one of the islands that belong to the Loyalty Islands, in New Caledonian, called Lifou.

Lifou is part of Micronesia and the islanders are knowns as Kanaks, with the main language spoken being French.

Most people understand English but there is something sexy, something adventourous and something special about speaking French in the South Pacific.

Seeking connection with nature and some underwater experiences we discovered the following and would recommend the following with your day ashore:

Five things to do on Lifou:

  1. Snorkel at Jinek Bay

Jinek bay is a marine reserve a twenty minute walk from where the cruise ship anchors and comes a shore. We purchased our pass on board for $20 per operson or you can buy them there for $10. Apparently the numbers are capped each day but I didn’t really see evidence of that in the bay and the guy taking people’s money seemed happy to give coloured wrist bands to who ever came along.

2. Hire a stand up paddle board

Stand up paddling in Jinek Bay -
Stand up paddling in Jinek Bay –

Stand up paddling or SUP is a fun easy water activity. I SUP at home for exercise and at $10 an hour it was too good to pass up. Skimming over the beautiful azure waters was breath-taking and there were plenty of moments to reflect on an often manic life back “home.” 

The only thing I would caution on SUP if you haven;t done it before is falling off over the coral. You can weave your way through the coral but if you are not great and confident on the board, try to paddle through the sandy, areas so if you do fall off you don’t velcro yourself to a coral shelf.

3. Drink a coconut

drinking out of young coconuts at Jinek Bay, Lifou
drinking out of young coconuts at Jinek Bay, Lifou

Coconuts grow in abundance on the Pacific Islands and offer incredible nutrients. The juice was once used as a blood volume expander and they can be really good for hang-overs. I just love the fact you can climb a tree and lop open a self made drink that is refreshing and nutritious. The locals use papaya stems as straws as they hollow and non toxic. A must!

4. Visit the church

Built in 1895 the church is a beautiful piece of achitecture from yesteryear and is a landmark you can see pulling in and out of the harbour. There are actually a couple of churches on the island, with one up on the right of Easo Bay (where the ferry docks) and is only a modest 30 minute walk past the turn off to Jinek Bay, or the other one on the way into town, also a 30 minute walk.

As with all churches around the world, you can walk through, marvel at the stained glass windows and climb to the nook where the church bell is rung. I like this little church, it is a bit run down but colourful and happy.

5. Grotto and villiage experience

Cave on Lifou Island
Cave on Lifou Island

You can do many tours (organised on board the boat) or simply by walking into town. Most activities will cost $20 and will include a mini van driving you to a spot. Last visit we did the blue grotto cave experience. It was great for the kids as they were shown how to hunt  for food, make bows and arrows, and see how the locals exist. Most still hunt for their food and frown their own crops.

Lifou bush and grotto adventure
Lifou bush and grotto adventure


There are plenty of other touristy things to do such as braiding your hair, getting a massage, buying pearl necklaces etc. The locals will do a traditional dance as the cruise leaves wishing you well and hoping to see you again.

Snorkeling and swimming anywhere on the island is stunning but as with most parts of the world the colour from the coral has been bleached away. The fish are still incredible and you will usually see a turtle and the water is a stunning tourquise blue.

Negotiate away on the advertised price but be respectful.

I was embarrassed to hear so many people from the cruise not use basic manners such as please and thank-you, it’s really not that hard. Merci Lifou!

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