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Lifou is the largest island in the archipelago of coral atolls known as the Loyalty Islands. Long stretches of white sand beach, small coves, limestone caves, grottos and imposing cliffs give the island one of the most dramatic landscapes in the pacific.
Melanesian seafarers were the first people to discover and settle the Loyalty Islands. Whether French navigator D’Entrecasteaux or La Perouse was the first European to arrive is unknown - there’s some dispute as to whom. The name Loyalty Islands was bestowed on the group of islands by European merchants towards the end of the 18th century, apparently to acknowledge the cooperation of the indigenous people. Whaling and timber were the main industries during the 19th Century. Today, the main industry is copra, the dried meat of coconuts, from which oil is extracted. Increasingly, tourism is becoming an important mainstay of the local economy.
10,320 (2004 census)
French and Kanak dialects
French overseas territory and local government
French Pacific Franc
Guest favourites, the most booked Shore Tours at this port
Our handpicked Shore Tours are a must for any guest.
Lifou’s Jinek Bay is one of the Pacific Islands' most pristine marine ecologies. It holds one of the world’s most diverse ranges of coral and more than 2000 fish species. Purchase your "Marine Reserve Pass" via your onboard Shore Tour Desk, all proceeds go back to the local community to help sustain the beautiful underwater ecosystem of Jinek Bay for future generations to enjoy as much as you do today.
Luecila and Luengoni Beaches are particularly beautiful. Shaded by palms and other native trees, they front the warm, crystal clear waters of the Coral Sea. Spend the day snorkelling, swimming, or just lying on the soft, white sand. Alternatively, join our "Forest and Secret Grotto" tour for a guided walk to a hidden grotto. Along the way you’ll learn about Lifou’s native flora and its medicinal uses.
Join our "Melanesian Encounter" tour and travel to the village of Hnathalo to visit the chief's hut - one of the largest of its kind in New Caledonia. In the village, local guides will explain the method of cooking the traditional "bougna" dish.
Your ship will anchor offshore and the ship’s tender boats will provide a regular service to and from the island throughout the day.
There are no taxis on the island, but there are some local transfers available ashore. Make sure that you agree on a price before commencing your journey.
The local specialty is of course seafood. Try an authentic Melanesian "bougna", a very tasty meal of meat (chicken or seafood) and local vegetables or fruit (taro or paw paw), cooked in banana leaves. Quarantine authorities do not generally allow food such as fruit and vegetables, dairy and meat products or sandwiches to be taken off the ship, however commercially packaged confectionery, chips and bottled drinking water are allowed subject to inspection.
Situated just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, New Caledonia’s climate is tropical. It’s warm and dry most of the year with afternoon trade winds helping to keep humidity low.
Local handicrafts, artwork and island souvenirs are available for purchase from the various stalls surrounding the waterfront where you come ashore. Any souvenirs that are made of plant material or animal products must be declared to quarantine authorities on arrival in Australia or New Zealand. Plant material such as certain seeds and animal products including feathers may be restricted or need to be treated at the owners’ expense on arrival in Australia or New Zealand.
It is recommended that you consider changing money onboard the ship prior to going ashore. Australian dollars are accepted but change may not be available. We recommend that you take small denominations of Australian dollars and/or local currency ashore.
There are no public telephones and no internet access in Lifou. Mobile coverage may be available as long as global roaming is selected prior to leaving home.
To make your day ashore as enjoyable as possible, please wear comfortable flat soled shoes, lightweight clothing and a hat - and don’t forget your swimwear!. You are also advised to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, bottled water and an umbrella or waterproof jacket during the wet season. Snorkelling equipment is available for hire or purchase onboard the ship. Please cover up when walking around the island and in the village. Nude or topless bathing is not permitted on any of the beaches.
To observe the local customs of the south pacific islands a respectful dress code is required. Swimwear should only be worn at the beach or pool and should be of a modest nature. G-strings, thongs and mankinis should not be worn. Topless sunbathing is also not permitted at anytime. When exploring the Islands and the local communities casual clothing should be worn. As a visitor to these beautiful islands please respect the wishes of local residents.
There are a range of tours available for you to really get the most out of your time in Lifou. Tours can be booked onboard at the Shore Tours desk and are subject to availability. Passengers are required to meet at a specific location for each Shore Tour departure. Please refer to your tour ticket for the correct time and place.
Coral is an extremely precious marine organism. In an effort to preserve its natural beauty and habitat please avoid touching it in all circumstances. Furthermore, just as with Australia’s beaches, blue bottles can visit occasionally in the summer months. During your time ashore we also ask that you dispose of your rubbish thoughtfully.
Please ask permission before taking photographs of local indigenous people.