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Cruises to Lifou

Lifou (Photo:nitrogenic.com//Shutterstock)
Lifou (Photo:nitrogenic.com//Shutterstock)

About Lifou

As you approach the New Caledonian island of Lifou, the impossibly turquoise waters almost seem too surreal to believe. But they're certainly real and, in fact, the crystal-clear waters are teeming with marine life, including green sea turtles. There are three main attractions to visit on Lifou: Notre Dame de Lourdes Church at the top of the hill, Jinek Bay and the Grotto Caves. Tickets need to be purchased from the ship before disembarking to snorkel in Jinek Bay. While you can bring your snorkel gear, reef shoes are not permitted (to protect the coral). Foam (pool) noodles are available to use for free while in the bay. There is an abundance of colourful coral and marine life, and the bay is ideal for families to explore.

There is a lovely little church at the top of a hill. The walk is not overly strenuous, but comfortable, closed-toed footwear is recommended, as well as a hat and a bottle of water. There are rugged concrete steps and some parts of the climb are a little steep. There are numerous vantage points to take photos on your way to the top, so make sure you stop to take in the breathtaking scenery. Your efforts will be rewarded as the views are magnificent. The small Catholic church provides a quiet spot for reflection and a cool spot to catch your breath.

You'll find the Grotto Caves in the opposite direction. You can purchase tickets for AUD$10 at the mouth of the bush walk. The walk is challenging as there are knotted tree roots and vines along the path. It is also a steep climb down once you reach the entrance to the caves. Ensure you wear sturdy shoes, as the ground is covered with leaves and other debris. After a steep descent, you'll find a deep, cool pool -- but be careful as it's dark and slippery.

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Why go to Lifou?


Great snorkelling in Jinek Bay, picturesque walks and cool caves to explore


Not many shaded areas; snorkelling access tickets need to be bought onboard your ship

Bottom Line:

A beautiful island where cruisers can enjoy a relaxing day exploring its natural wonders

Lifou Cruise Port Facilities?

Lifou is a tender port, meaning you will be transported to the island via cruise tender to Sandalwood Bay. The pier is modern and well-maintained and only a short walk to the town of Easo. Here's a tip: look out for green sea turtles as you might spot a few swimming close to the pier. Once ashore, it's an easy walk to the market stalls where you'll find souvenirs and food vendors.

Good to Know?

Australian dollars are accepted, but take small notes as the local vendors may not be able to give change. Learning a few phrases in French would be advantageous for directions and purchasing food and souvenirs. Be mindful when walking on the main road as it can be quite busy with cars, vans and other vehicles. Push bikes can be hired to explore the island.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Exploring Lifou by foot is the best way to see all the main attractions. There is a sealed road to walk on (but no footpath), which leads to the church, snorkelling spots, caves and traditional villages.

By Bike: Pushbikes, both adult and children sizes, are available for hire.

By Taxi: There are no taxis available, but private tours can be organized.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Australian dollars and Central Pacific Franc (CFP) are accepted. There are no ATM facilities nor credit card facilities on the island, so it's best to exchange currency and bring cash before leaving for your cruise.


French is the official language of New Caledonia, however Drehu, the Indigenous language is also spoken on Lifou. Some locals speak English, however not fluently. Learning a few phrases in French, such as 'please', 'thank you', 'how are you?' and 'how much?' would be helpful. Greeting market stall vendors and other locals with a cheery bonjour is always warmly welcomed.

Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2017 Top-Rated South Pacific Destinations

Lifou Cruise Reviews

Norwegian Jewel
Sail Date: Nov 2019
My husband and I decided not to take an excursion, for it was a short stay in Lifou. The ship arrived at about 8 a.m. and all aboard time was 3:30 p.m.--a rather tight schedule. Lifou, Nouvelle Caledonie is mostly... Read More
Majestic Princess
Sail Date: Jan 2020
Lifou is a beautiful island accessed by tender boats. It's very hot so take water with you and money for drink (coconut or soft drinks available). They take AUS$ and NC Franc. Try to travel light or with a backpack.... Read More
Majestic Princess
Sail Date: Jan 2020
this is a beautiful spot and if you have the energy ( you need to do it once in your lifetime) take the walk up to the church on the cliff top - along a bitumen road for around 500 metres and then up the side of the... Read More
Carnival Splendor
Sail Date: Jan 2020
Coral all smashed as people stand all over it . Market way too expensive . take reef shoes... Read More
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