New Cal continues to amaze us. Arriving on the Loyalty Islands is like entering another world. The archipelago is still part of New Caledonia and halfway en route between Isle des Pins and Vanuatu. We couldn’t just sail past these gorgeous islands steeped in Kanak culture with stunning beaches and turquoise water. After an overnight sail from Isle des Pins we stood off for a few hours and then called up the marina in Wé, on the east coast of Lifou island. There was no space unless we could squeeze in at the end of the pontoon, tying our lines to the rocks on one side and the pontoon on the other side. Fine with us and now we are safely tied up in the most pristine, pretty and petite marina you can imagine. The water is so clear and pure here you wouldn’t hesitate to jump in if you dropped something. It’s shallow (only 2.5 m) with plenty of fish and beautiful corals.There are a few other ‘around-the-world-sailors’ in the marina (one French, one Dutch boat; it sounds like the start of a good joke) and the atmosphere is relaxed and laid back. In fact, everyone we met on the islands is very relaxed and friendly. The French and the Kanaks seem to get on well here and don’t live such separate lives as they do in Nouméa. We hired a car and went for a little tour around the island. First stop: the north and a village called ‘Jokin’ (no, I’m not kidding) with stunning cliffs overlooking a vast bay. There are traditional case (huts) all over the island and the Kanak culture is present everywhere. Lifou is divided into three districts, each ruled by a chief, and in some places you have to ask permission to go snorkeling, visit a cave or photograph their village. After a brief swim in Jokin we drove along the west coast and stopped in the vast Baie du Santal. This is where the cruise-ships sometimes stop and it happened to be one of those days with hundreds of people being dropped off on this little island for just a few hours. The locals put on a show, stalled out souvenirs and coconut drinks and by mid afternoon everyone was gone and peace and quiet returned to the small village. Next we explored the east coast, south of Wé, which has stunning beaches, lush vegetation and beautiful traditional case dotted all over.
We find it hard to tear ourselves away from New Cal, it’s one of our favourite stops on our trip but we don’t want to run out of time to visit Vanuatu either. We’ve heard so many good things. So our next stop is Tanna island where we want to visit an active volcano 🌋