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Lifou Island

Home > New Caledonia > Travel | Food and Wine
by Anne Dignam (subscribe)
I am a amateur freelance writer from Sydney. My passion is Aboriginal history, Australia and its unusual places. My aim is to share my knowledge to better your experience. Thank you
Published May 3rd 2013
Fancy living on an underwater volcano
Lifou (Lifu also spelt) is an island part of New Caledonia, I would have to say this was a favourite on my cruise. It is on an atoll, a underwater volcano, surrounded by coral and reefs that over the years have turned into stone and rock.

Lifou's population is around 10, 000 and the locals are Kanaks. French is main language spoken.

It is about 80kms in length. Noumea is the closest island and were the majority go to work.

Thatched Huts Lifou


Upon entering Lifou, go up past the markets. A must visit is the cafe/bar garden, the trinkets on show here are awesome. As for the difference in cultures they had a sign saying cold, cold, cold beer, (not in our terms it was warm but still nice). Continue through the gardens admiring the huts, (please don't enter them people do live there). They don't mind you taking photos in their gardens within reason.

The local huts and gardens are so well tendered. They use the volcanic rock to adorn their garden edges and giant shells lean against totem poles or door steps. Hatched huts and cooking huts are everywhere and modern living is visible. I believe it's a nice balance. There seems to be more cooking huts than living quarter huts

Hatched Huts along the coast line of Lifou


I walked south along a track and came to a ruined two story house with coastal views. Along the way you see the rocks change colour, from basilte black to a stark white and its so porous and fascinating to think Lifou now stands on a volcano. The evidence of steam porous rocks is so defining and visible.

Back at the markets, the locals in tribal clothing welcome you with a spiritual dance. I ventured up the hill; to the left you can go on a walk to the Lighthouse.

View of markets and ocean


From the top of the hill, I turned right, towards the Church in the main village area. The rock walls and fauna was delightful and all cameras snap away. The Church is stunning, and you may climb the stairs and see how the locals ring the bell.

Love the Fauna on Lifou


Opposite the church is the museum, you can see a huge spinal bone of a whale. The museum isn't open, but you can view from the windows.

I paid a local, Naomi to take me around. Naomi had limited English. From the church, we visited the school, local houses, communal houses and visited cemeteries that are very colourful and are actually one of the attractions on Lifou. They have a cave (grotto), behind the cemetery (I didn't do the cave it is a water hole cave that is breathtaking - the locals jump and climb out, so can you they do charge admission). I went on to The Chief's Hut and we learnt about the Kanak's way (when in the Chiefs Hut accept their rules - surprisingly enough I've seen people disrespect the locals).

Floral tribute inside Chief's Hut (due to respect to the Kanaks, I didn't photograph anything else)


I was lucky enough to be taken to a beautiful bay on the north docking side of Carnival Cruise, and we were so close to the point of Lifou. The locals had made a bridge, table and chairs out of concrete and placed it right on the edge of the water line on the rocks. The fish here are out of the world; they are so vibrant in colour. The locals have their boats in a sheltered bay here. Tours do go here as well.

This is such a pretty island, and I will be coming back again one day. The water constantly changed colour.



Others swam, snorkelled, hired canoes, shopped or just relaxed, hair braiding is available and the tours cost around $10 - $30.

Kanak Children using palm leaves to slide the hill


If you can, bring some koala bears or memorabilia of Australia, the children here love it.
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Where: Lifou Isle, New Caledonia
Your Comment
Interesting article, thank you. For future reference I would like to point out to you that Koala's are NOT bears. They are not even related to bears. The koala is related to the kangaroo and the wombat. The koala is a marsupial mammal.
by rbarn (score: 0|2) 615 days ago
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