On day 5 of our cruise on the Pacific Pearl we stopped in at Lifou. Lifou is bigger than Mystery Island, with villages and churches. We didn’t have a tour booked for Lifou and were determined to figure out things on the island for ourselves.
It is so different visiting an island from a cruise ship as opposed to with another form of travel. Especially if you go on a tour, you are protected in a little bubble, use Australian money and probably pay about 5 times as much as you would if going it alone. Because we’ve travelled quite a bit before, we found it pretty frustrating to wait in the big tour lines and stay with groups of people. So it sounds like a great idea to ditch the tour and make your own tracks… but when we got onto the island, everyone went off to their tour groups and we felt a bit lost. We asked some locals at the market stalls what was good to do (“go on a tour” was their reply) and eventually found out there were some caves a short walk away.
We started walking up a hill along a road and passed a lot of people coming the other way. We asked them if they’d found they cave, but they’d all given up and come back. It was really hot, but we figured we should keep trying. We finally saw a church, and around the side were a few men sitting in front of a sign pointing toward the caves. After a bit of bargaining we managed to get a good price for six people to be let through to the path.
The path got rockier and the trees ot bigger as we continued toward the cave. I think Grandma and Grandpa got more than they bargained for when we had to climb through tight spaces and down wet rocks. The managed with a smile and held on to the thick ship rope that lined the path (we wondered if someone had traded some rope from the ship for access to the caves at some point).
Inside the cave was very dark and (I didn’t know this until later, but) there was a local man hiding in the shadows making a growling sound… it was scary. My view of this man changed when he handed me a waterproof torch. The cave was dark but there was a large pool of water below us. “Jump”, the man said… and so after a but of encouragement, I did.
The water was fresh and not too cold. It was really beautiful… but until other people joined me it was a little scary. The rocks were limestone and when we shone the torch down we could see tunnels that seemed to go forever. Tree roots hung down from the rocks and looked a little bit like monsters in the torchlight… the whole place was scary and beautiful.
After Mum, Mark, David and I swam for a while we headed back up the path to see what else we could do on Lifou.
Mum, David, Mark and I decided to walk a bit more to try to find some snorkelling. On the way we saw a pen of piglets and their mum. They were adorable, all oinky and nuzzling away at coconut husks.
We followed the road until we found a lovely view of the ocean where lots of people from the ship were snorkelling. Now it was stunning and the coral was great, but I want to take this opportunity to tell anyone who will listen that you should not stand on coral and you should certainly not break it. Coral are animals and take a very long time to grow. They are very sensitive and it is a very BAD idea to kill them. I really wanted to yell this out to all the people snorkelling, because if they keep treating it they way they were, they will be very confused when there’s none left next time they visit.
On a more positive note, we didn’t break any coral, but instead walked up the hill to a new church and took in some views.
Mum and I jumped in the water to check out the coral and fish. It wasn’t as good as where we snorkelled on Mystery Island, but it was absolutely lovely. There was such a great array of fish and some (unbroken) coral too. Fish have such curious little personalities, I bet they are just gawking at the big langky things that hover above them with amazed looks on their faces. We look at the fish and the fish look at us – win, win.
Back on land, David and Mark got us some coconuts for lunch. David has picked up some pretty impressive skills for hours of watching Bear Grylls and managed to collect a few coconuts; some for the flesh and some for the milk.
They opened them up for us and practically put them on a platter. It was a delicious feast.
We made our way back to the tender boats to get back on ship. while in line we were looking out to the ocean and a sea turtle popped his head through the surface of the water. Soon there was an another and another and we watched these magnificant creatures swim around while we waited to be taken back tot he Pacific Pearl. It was the best show I had seen yet.
Back on the boat there was another good show (not quite as good as the turtles in my opinion though) as Pacific Cirque twirled around on deck.
Our day on Lifou was amazing; we swam in a cave, snorkelled and saw turtles. In my book, that’s a win.