If you are visiting Lifou no doubt you have heard of Jinek Bay for snorkeling, I mean this is THE place to discover life under the water here. Though does it really live up to all the hype? Let’s find out that and what else you need to know when it comes to Jinek Bay Marin Reserve.
Whether you are visiting Lifou in New Caledonia as part of a cruise ship or visiting for a few days no doubt you will want to explore the incredible underwater life that surrounds this gem. Jinek Bay Marine Reserve has always been somewhere which is highly recommended, though is it really worth visiting and lives up to the hype?
One thing to note is that there is a limit on the number of people allowed to snorkel at Jinek Bay Marine Reserve. This is in hopes to protect the corals and the rich marine life.
This number is set at 100 people per day with 2 time slots at 8:00 am to 12:30 pm, and one in the afternoon from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm for 50 people each. Obviously, there has been great effort made in over to protect this Marine Reserve, but there are rumors Jinek Bay has closed. So is this true or not?
Nevertheless let’s get into if Jinek Bay Marine Reserve is actually closed, and what else you need to know if you are planning on visiting. This includes opening hours, entry fees, keeping safe, and what to pack. Also is it actually even worth it to go snorkeling here, especially alongside 50 other people at a time?
Snorkeling At Jinek Bay Marine Reserve: Is It Worth It?
- Is Jinek Bay Marine Reserve Closed?
- Why Snorkel At Jinek Bay Marine Reserve
- Where Is Jinek Bay
- Opening Hours Of Jinek Bay
- Entry Fee To Jinek Bay
- Keeping Safe At Jinek Bay
- What To Pack When Snorkeling At Jinek Bay
Is Jinek Bay Marine Reserve Closed?
If you have been looking into visiting Jinek Bay Marine Reserve during your visit to Lifou you will unfortunately find that it is closed. This is an indefinite closure so there are no plans of reopening it to the public.
Now there are mixed reports as to why exactly it has been closed. Though it seems to be a mixture of a large storm that hit that caused a lot of damage, including breaking the entryway down to the water.
As well as a lot of damage to the corals and a decreasing marine life due to the influx of tourists. Even though the majority of visitors are from cruise ships which may only be a couple of times per week.
The locals found the marine life would leave the area after a cruise visit and eventually come back a few days later. It was obvious the influx of visitors was disrupting those underwater dwellers.
If you are thinking oh well, I will just sneak in, it’s the beach, they can’t keep me out, you may be surprised to learn that this is actually private property.
As well as this, there is now a fence around the area keeping visitors out and warning of the closure of Jinek Bay. Still, if this isn’t enough to prevent you from trying your luck, locals are stationed here on cruise days to make sure no one tries to access Jinek Bay.
Why Snorkel At Jinek Bay Marine Reserve
Jinek Bay is nicknamed “The Natural Aquarium” because of its beautifully translucent water and magnificent corals that you can see through the surface. You can access the bay by stairs from the cliff and explore the shallow coral plateaus and the deeper sandy areas.
You will be amazed by the colors and shapes of the corals, the giant clams, the sea lilies, and the fire clownfish. You might also encounter a Maori wrasse, a yellow-lipped sea krait, or a shoal of convict surgeonfish.
The coral reef at Jinek Bay is one of the most beautiful and diverse in Lifou. It covers an area of about 0.5 square kilometers and has over 2000 different species of marine animals.
The corals are in various shapes and colors, such as branching, plate-like, brain-like, or mushroom-like. Some of the corals are soft and flexible, while others are hard and rigid.
The fish at Jinek Bay are colorful and abundant. You can see many different types of fish, such as surgeonfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, wrasse, damselfish, clownfish, angelfish, triggerfish, and more.
Some of the fish are small and timid, while others are large and curious. Some of the fish are endemic to New Caledonia, such as the Maori wrasse, which can grow up to 2 meters long and has distinctive blue-green markings.
Besides fish, you can also see other animals at Jinek Bay, such as giant clams, sea lilies, sea cucumbers, sea stars, sea urchins, sea snakes, and more. Some of these animals are camouflaged or hidden among the corals, while others are exposed or moving around.
Some of these animals are harmless or beneficial to the reef, while others are venomous or invasive. For example, the giant clams can filter water and provide nutrients for the corals, while the yellow-lipped sea kraits can inject a potent neurotoxin with their bite.
Where Is Jinek Bay
Jinek Bay is a 10-minute walk from the cruise ship dock or a short drive from the airport or the city hotels. There is a large grass area where you can leave your belongings and get changed. There are also toilets and showers available.
Opening Hours Of Jinek Bay
Jinek Bay is open for snorkeling from Monday to Saturday, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. On Sundays, it is closed for the local church service.
Entry Fee To Jinek Bay
The ticket costs $15 per person and can be purchased from the locals at the entrance of Jinek Bay. It includes a snorkeling mask and a life jacket, but you need to bring your own snorkel and fins. You are not allowed to wear reef shoes or sunscreen, as they can damage the coral.
You also need to book a ticket in advance, as the number of visitors is limited to 50 per session. There are two sessions per day: one in the morning from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm, and one in the afternoon from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
This won’t matter so much if you are staying a few nights in Lifou, though if you are visiting as part of a cruise ship then you definitely need to book your slot.
Keeping Safe At Jinek Bay
One thing to note is that snorkeling in Jinek Bay also requires some safety precautions to protect yourself and the environment. The first is that you should wear appropriate gear.
This includes a snorkel mask, fins, and a flotation device to snorkel in Jinek Bay. You also need to wear a rash guard or a wetsuit to protect yourself from the sun and cold water. Reef shoes are not allowed, as they can damage the coral.
Secondly, you must follow the rules. You need to follow the rules and regulations of the marine reserve, such as not touching or stepping on the coral, not feeding or chasing the fish, not wearing sunscreen or using marine-safe sunscreen, and not littering or leaving anything behind.
Make sure you stay within the marked area of the bay, which is indicated by buoys and ropes. The area covers the coral reef that has grown in the calm waters of the bay. Do not venture outside the area, as you may encounter strong currents, waves, or boats.
We were provided with noodles to help keep afloat and there are two different circuits you can follow to explore. Though I will say it was quite difficult spotting the markers when you are level with the water, so we just ended up making our own path.
Lastly, Be aware of your surroundings. You need to be aware of your surroundings and avoid any potential hazards, such as sharp coral, jellyfish, sea urchins, or other snorkelers. You also need to keep an eye on your time and return to the shore before your session ends.
What To Pack When Snorkeling At Jinek Bay
Snorkeling at Jinek Bay is a wonderful experience that you will not want to miss. Jinek Bay is a marine reserve that hosts a rich diversity of coral and fish life. You can access the bay by stairs from the cliff, and enjoy the clear and calm water. However, before you go snorkeling, you need to pack some essential items to make your trip safe and enjoyable.
Here are some things to pack when snorkeling at Jinek Bay:
- A snorkeling mask that fits your face well and does not leak. You can test the fit by placing the mask on your face without the strap and inhaling through your nose. If the mask stays on, it is a good fit. You can also adjust the strap to make it more comfortable.
- A strong>snorkel that allows you to breathe easily and has a purge valve to clear any water that enters. You can choose a snorkel that attaches to your mask or one that you hold in your mouth. Make sure the snorkel is long enough to reach above the water surface when you are snorkeling.
- A pair of fins that help you swim faster and more efficiently. You can choose between full-foot fins that cover your whole foot or open-heel fins that have an adjustable strap. Make sure the fins are not too tight or too loose, as they can cause blisters or fall off.
- A rash guard that protects you from sunburn, abrasion, and cold water. You can choose a rash guard that covers your arms and torso or a wetsuit that covers your whole body.
- A waterproof bag or a dry box that keeps your valuables safe and dry. You can store your phone, camera, wallet, keys, and other items in a waterproof bag or a dry box that floats on the water surface or attaches to your body. Make sure the bag or box is sealed properly and has enough space for your items.
- A towel and a change of clothes that you can use after snorkeling. You can dry yourself with a towel and change into clean clothes before heading back to your accommodation or exploring other attractions on Lifou Island. You can also bring some snacks and drinks to replenish your energy after snorkeling.
Where To Stay In Lifou?
Unfortunately, many people visit Lifou as just a port stop on a cruise ship. This means there aren’t a whole lot of accommodation options available here. Though for those people who are willing to get off the beaten track and come experience this slice of paradise for longer than 8 hours, you will for sure be rewarded for your efforts in paradise.
The ideal stay is just across from the beach. Rooms here start from $100.00 per night.BOOK NOW
Other Things To Do In Lifou
Notre Dame de Lourdes Chapel: The Notre Dame de Lourdes Chapel in Lifou is a historical and religious landmark that offers a stunning view of the surrounding bay and island. The chapel can be reached by a short but steep path that reveals a breathtaking panorama of the bay at every step.
From the top, one can see Sandalwood Bay where cruise passengers disembark, and Jinek Bay.
The Vanilla Plantations: Visiting the vanilla plantations on Lifou is a wonderful way to discover the history, culture, and natural beauty of this island. Vanilla cultivation was introduced to Lifou by English missionaries in 1860, who gave some plants to the local tribes.
One of the most popular places to visit is the House of Vanilla, located in the Hnathalo tribe area in southeast Lifou. Here you can see how vanilla pods are sorted, dried, and matured according to organic farming standards. You can also buy some vanilla products, such as beans, extract, powder, or perfume.
The Jokin Cliffs: The Jokin Cliffs is a stunning natural attraction made of layers of ancient coral stone that have been raised above sea level over millions of years. The cliffs tower over the ocean at a height of about 60 meters in some places, offering a breathtaking view of the coastline and the turquoise water below.
The Open Air Markets: The markets are a great way to experience the culture and cuisine of the island, as well as to find some unique souvenirs and handicrafts. The markets are usually open from 8 am to 4 pm, and it is best to arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds and the heat and to have more time to browse the stalls.
The stalls generally accept both Australian dollars and Pacific francs, but it is advisable to have some local currency on hand for smaller purchases. Be prepared to bargain with the vendors, as they may offer you a lower price if you buy more than one item or show interest in their products.
The Secret Grotto: The entrance to the grotto is hidden by vegetation, and you have to descend a steep and slippery path to get inside. Once you are in the grotto, you will be amazed by the sight of stalagmites and stalactites that have different shapes and colors.
You can also swim in the crystal clear water that fills the bottom of the cave. The water is cool and refreshing, and you can see fish and other creatures swimming around.
Turtles At Easo Beach: The beach is popular with visitors who want to relax, swim, snorkel, or kayak in the clear blue water. Though one of my personal favorite things about this beach is that it is a free spot where you can swim with turtles. Now there is no guarantee of this, but numerous visitors, including myself, have had great luck.
If you are keen to see turtles while on your cruise there is no better place than in the wild, where you can watch them chill out. Just remember to respect the turtles, make sure you keep some distance, and do not touch them.
Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!
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