After a hazy night of drinking and dancing we arrived at Lifou Isle at 9am May 30th (Wednesday). However, on a strict vacation attitude, Varun and I didn't wake up until noon. We slowly got up, got ready, ate lunch and then headed for the tender boat that would take us to the shore as the ship itself had no where to properly port. We ended up getting to the shore about 2pm with only 3 hours to spare on the island.
With advice from friends whom had previously came here a few weeks back, we immediately headed up the hill and to the left to visit the old church at the top of the hill and see the rest of the island as well. There was a small market set up on the beach that sold souvenirs, clothing, braided hair, offered coconut masses and rented out snorkeling equipment to see the turtles, clown fish and reef, but we opted to keep going to see everything before the last tender boat at 4:30pm headed back to the ship.
Fortunately, the hike to the top was not as bad as our friends had previously stated of it being steep and the views were amazing. We were able to get shots of all around the island as well as the ship in the distance before heading back down. The church at the time (Our Lady of Lourdes, built by Catholic missionaries in 1898) was closed but there was a bucket out front for tips. Varun threw in a few bucks but I opted out seeing how the bucket was unmanned and it seemed anyone could come in and just grab the money.
After walking down we headed to the other side of the island as we were told there was a smaller beach here that many didn't know about that also offered excellent views of the reef and island. We came across about 30 or so fellow cruisers snorkeling and relaxing with two locals renting out equipment and even selling chips, sodas, fruits, etc. I tried to find a coconut to crack open and drink/eat but it seemed they were all taken down already and used. There were quite a few people snorkeling but we continued to head south to visit the caves as also recommended by our friends.
On the way, we stumbled across an old building a bit off track that had a bunch of old computers inside that were extremely dusty. We couldn't gain access inside, but judging from looking through the window it looked like a building for scientific research of some sort. We walked a bit more and I saw an area fenced off by metal sheeting and so decided to venture over and see what it was. Lo and behold, PIGS! About 15 or so piglets with two grown pigs just casually eating and relaxing. They didn't make a noise and one would have easily passed by this without stopping to see what it was. Varun took a ton of pictures and even poked a few (great, agriculture and customs will love this), before venturing off south towards the caves.
We ran into a few huts and an open church along the way so took a few more pictures before we came across a man in front of what appeared to be a school and a cemetary offering tours through the caves for $5 per person. We paid him the $10 and he directed us to follow another man leading us to the forest entrance. Instead of guiding us, he let us go in by ourselves which we found a bit weird. Luckily, the trail is well marked with a rope somewhat positioned to hang on to as we made the steep descent into a ravine and into the caves. There was hardly any light inside but a small crack opening in the ceiling and a local man down there with a flashlight. There were about 8 or so others with a few swimming in the cave's lake but Varun and I opted to stay out. The caves were amazing and if we hadn't heard about it from friends, we would have never known it was there.
We ended up getting back to the dock around 4pm and took the tender boat back to the ship well ahead of schedule. Overall, Lifou isle was amazing as it seemed time had stood still with very little technology and absolutely no noise as there were only small villages that occupied the island. We were able to see everything in a little over an hour, but we were walking pretty fast and are somewhat fit. The climb up/down the church as well as the cave definitely requires some shoes as those in flip flops seemed to be having a hard time. We made it back to the ship where the captain blew the horn at 5pm to signal the ship disembarking for our next destination, Port-Vila Vanuatu, where we would arrive at 9am the following day (Thursday, May 31st).