Lifou, the biggest island of Loyalty archipelago, an important producer of Vanilla! Here is another aspect of New-Caledonia and staying in a traditional tribe. In Lifou, all accomodation (except one or two high luxury resorts), are traditional cases belonging to local tribes. Quite cheap, they allow you to feel like you are a local, sleeping in a traditional case and speaking with kanaks (easier if you speak French) will help you understand how they live, as discovering the wonders of this island.
We arrive to Lifou (Easo, the only “village” of the island) thanks to the Betico, the ferry doing the liaison between all islands in New-Caledonia. As already experienced, what a pain! The Betico, renamed “Vomito”, is faithful to its reputation! 5 hours sailing on big waves and swell in this huge ferry were awful !! As usual, if you can afford, fly with Air Caledonie, maybe little bit more expensive but a saving of time and much more comfortable.
Driving our rent car (Loca V agency in Lifou), we discover the wonders of Lifou, enjoying the incredibly quiet time of the remote island. It is like we are the only ones driving, we hardly pass other vehicles on the road. We sleep at the locally owned “Chez Waka” traditional case. Different accommodation like this one are present everywhere on the island, choose the one you want depending on your preferred location as I don;t think there are much differences between all of them. Think about booking in advance, just in case. Better to book by phone once you are in Noumea or call the tourism agency in Noumea to get information as most of the owners in Lifou don’t have internet. The case is right next to the ocean and you will get sleepy listening to the waves…Not very comfy but always very nice to wake up next to the ocean 🙂 However, locally prepared dished (notably the kanak bougna) are too expensive according to us (which is normal as everything is imported) and that is why we prefer buy everything in Noumea and cook our food in the kitchen of the “resort”. Furthermore, Lifou is not a small island so renting a car is mandatory to explore the island as areas of interest are not next to each other. Loca V is quite a good and reliable agency. Ask for Loca V to pick you up at the ferry station of ask to your accommodation owner to pick you up and then drive you to the Loca V agency as there is no common transport on the island.
Quiet Lifou! Calm, loneliness are the most delightful aspects of the island!
Lot of bays with good snorkelling spots!
The vanilla production
Lifou is a relevant production area for the culture of vanilla and one of the specialties of New-Caledonia. Local producers will make you aware of the very complex, time-consuming and difficult production of vanilla. At the end, you will be able to buy an authentic vanilla locally made at the local centre, a good way to promote the fair trade. Australians on cruise love that!
To conclude, Lifou offers good surprises, astonishing beaches like Luengoni and the nice feeling to be alone in the world in many areas. The island is not home to many people who need to go the mainland for work, studies or supplies. But for a traveller, the discovery of the native land of the footballer Christian Karembeu will be a very nice memory.
Where did we sleep?
- Chez Waka: One of the numerous accommodation in a kanak tribe in the island, and you may speak with the one of the owners who manage the place to learn more about their lives and they see Lifou’s future. As it is not easy to book over the phone or internet, better check with the tourism agency in Noumea. But the website above may help you find more information. Nothing to say in particular, quite a basic room in a traditional case with a shared bathroom outside may not fit to everyone, but a nice way to sleep next to the ocean.