Lifou, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia
Day 4 saw us still in New Caledonia. Docking into Santal Bay off the Loyalty Island of Lifou and taking a tender to the shore, we were met with lots of waves from the friendly locals and it was here that we got a sense of how tiny and isolated this island is. There were almost no facilities and only some tables selling souvenirs and hair-braiding. I loved knowing that this island was so untouched.
Floating with the fishies!
Arriving at the absolutely gorgeous Jinek Bay, I insisted that Mama Bear and Bear Papa take to the waters first. It was their birthday trip and I wanted them to be eaten by the sharks first… I mean, go snorkelling for the first time first…
Mom, who’s not a strong swimmer saw a couple fish and a bit of coral before taking off to the less shark-infested land. Dad was talking with the overseer and would brave the depths after chatting, so I decided to go ruffle a few fins with my first underwater school and WOW! What an incredible experience. I saw a tonne of fish, none of which I can identify, in a range of colours, shapes and patterns!
Closer to shore the coral was pretty dull, but further out, this underwater ecosystem came alive. It was absolutely breathtaking and like I had completely entered another world. It was incredibly soothing and empowering to be able to immerse yourself in this incredibly complex world with only the sound of your breathing regulating the mood. An absolutely delightful otherworldly experience and one I certainly hope to replicate again.
Little Church, Big Hill
Taking a hike back along the road in which we came, we headed up Lifou’s proverbial Stairway To Heaven, the Notre Dame de Lourdes. Close to heaven, it may be, but for us lazy fat cats, it was a good workout for the thighs. Even though the church itself wasn’t extraordinary, the penance of painful ascension for the sin of sloth gave way to breathtaking views every which way. At this glorious elevation, perched atop the highest point of the surroundings and on the edge of a headland, meant that we could see our ship docked in the middle of Santal Bay, as well as the beaches which made up its shoreline on one side and the beautiful Jinek Bay that we just swam at on the other.
Way Down We Go
Making our way toward the township of Easo, we were in search of a cave. Moving past traditional huts and the beautifully rustic Church Of Saint Francis Xavier and paying the pied piper for a cave “tour”, the man pointed to a sign and told us to follow the yellow brick road.
Manoeuvring between large boulders into an incredible, collapsed jungle depression before finally descending into a spectacular small cave with a pitch-black freshwater cavity and the natural skylight was amazing. Swimming in an icy cold, seemingly bottomless, natural spring with tiny fishes was an absolute highlight. Getting to be here by ourselves was an added bonus and made the experience all the more magical.
Ah, Lifou, you’ve been magnificent. I don’t want to go home!
Sunset and The Edge: Crows Nest
Back aboard the ship, more sunset shots were taken, because I’m me and I can, before strapping back up in a harness and climbing the Crows Nest.
Unfortunately I timed that badly, because it was pretty much pitch black for the climb up into the KFC bucket (see the right side of the picture of the smokestack, so you couldn’t see anything except the ship and because there was no colour in the sky, there was also no scenery, although by this time we were too far away to really see anything even if it were still daylight. I did spot a cute little skull and crossbones above the Walk The Plank activity which was fun. After that, it was time to call it a night and prepare for our biggest day yet.
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