Secret Grotto In Lifou: Is It Really Worth It?

Come find out all you need to know about checking out the secret grotto in Lifou. In contrast to the name, it isn’t actually that secret, but it is still well worth visiting. I will let you know where it is located, the history, entry fees, and what to expect!


Whether you are visiting Lifou in New Caledonia as part of a cruise ship or on a multi-day holiday no doubt you will want to explore some of the highlights of the island. Whether that is the incredible beaches or impressive views, but have you heard about the secret grotto in Lifou?

Tucked away, a decent and steep walk into the jungle, just off one of the main roads hides an incredible cave known as the secret grotto in Lifou. If you are someone who is a bit more of an explorer and wants to get amongst nature I highly recommend a visit.

I visited Lifou as part of a South Pacific Carnival Spirit cruise departing from Sydney. Prior to the trip, I searched Facebook groups to find the best things to do at each of the ports and that is how I discovered the secret grotto in Lifou.

However, one thing to note, especially if you are visiting as part of a cruise as I was is this is certainly less of a secret and more of a tourist attraction. Personally, I still found it a pleasant experience and worth doing, but be aware it can get crowded at times. I would recommend visiting in the morning when you get off the ship to beat the crowds, then spend the afternoon in the sunshine on the beach.

There isn’t too much information online about visiting the secret grotto in Lifou which is why I decided to write this article. In it, I will let you know all there is about the secret grotto such as where it is located, entry fees, why it is worth visiting, the history, and what to expect.


Visiting The Secret Grotto In Lifou: Is It Worth It?

deep in the jungle while hiking to the secret grotto in lifou
deep in the jungle while hiking to the secret grotto in lifou

Why Visit The Secret Grotto In Lifou

If you are looking for a unique and adventurous experience in New Caledonia, you should visit the secret grotto in Lifou. The secret grotto is a natural cave that contains stalagmites and stalactites, which are mineral formations that grow from the floor and ceiling of the cave.

The grotto also has a pool of water that reflects the light from the torches, creating a magical atmosphere. Some visitors choose to swim in the pool, while others just admire the beauty of the cave.

Here are some reasons why you should visit this amazing place:

  • You can explore the lush and diverse forest that surrounds the grotto, where you can learn about the native flora and fauna of Lifou. You might even see some coconut crabs, the largest land-living arthropods in the world.
  • You can descend into the dark and mysterious cave that leads to the grotto, where you can admire the stunning formations of stalagmites and stalactites by torchlight. The cave is also home to some bats, so be prepared for some surprises.
  • You can swim in the crystal-clear water of the grotto, which is a natural pool that is fed by an underground spring. The water is cool and refreshing, and you can feel the gentle currents that flow through the cave. You might even spot some fish or eels in the water.

This is also an affordable activity close to the cruise ship port perfect for visitors to check out. There are a handful of things to do in Lifou near the pier and visiting the secret grotto just so happens to be one of them.

squeezing through the rocks to the entrance of the cave in lifou
squeezing through the rocks to the entrance of the cave in lifou

History Of The Secret Grotto

The history of the secret grotto is not well documented, but some sources suggest that it was used as a hiding place by the local people during the tribal wars in the 19th century.

The grotto was also a sacred site for the Kanak people, who believed that it was inhabited by spirits and ancestors. It was only discovered by outsiders in the 1980s when a French explorer stumbled upon it while exploring the forest.

Today, the secret grotto is a popular tourist attraction, where visitors can enjoy a guided walk through the forest and see the cave by torchlight. Some visitors also choose to swim in the pool, while others just admire the beauty of the cave.

the hiking path lined with rope to mark the way
the hiking path lined with rope to mark the way

Where Is The Secret Grotto Located

The Secret Grotto in Lifou is located near the village of Easo, about a 10 to 15-minute walk away from the cruise terminal. It is signposted during the day as the entry point is a little bit hidden away.

If you are visiting as part of a cruise ship stop you will find plenty of fellow cruisegoers also venturing up this way. It is just up the grass from the Church of St Francis Xavier.


Entry Fee To The Secret Grotto

The entry fee to the Secret Grotto in Lifou is around $10 AUD per person.

However, some visitors have reported that the fee is not worth it, as the guide does not accompany them to the grotto, but simply points them in that direction. Though, for me, I knew this going in advance and set my expectations accordingly. The signage does advertise a guide, but they only show you to the entry. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and not take things too seriously.

signage on the main road pointing to the cave and swimming pool at the secret grotto in lifou
signage on the main road pointing to the cave and swimming pool at the secret grotto in lifou

Walking Down To The Secret Grotto

Walking down to the secret grotto in Lifou is an adventure that can take you to a hidden world of natural beauty and wonder.

The grotto is located in the forest, and to reach it you have to follow a guided walk through the native flora and fauna of the island. Once at the entry, you will be left to go the remainder of the way, but be aware this is the hardest part.

The walk to the secret grotto is not easy, as you have to navigate through tree roots and steep slopes. You will need flat shoes and a good sense of balance. I did manage to do it successfully in jandles, but honestly, this isn’t something I would recommend.

Luckily the reward is worth it, as you will discover a place that few people have seen, and that will leave you breathless with its beauty. The secret grotto is one of the attractions that make Lifou Island a unique and unforgettable destination.

Just if you want a relaxing day with minimal exhaustion maybe this isn’t the adventure for you.

the hiking path lined with rope to mark the way
the hiking path lined with rope to mark the way
hiking down the stairs to the entry of the cave
hiking down the stairs to the entry of the cave
entering the secret grotto in lifou by venturing underground
entering the secret grotto in lifou by venturing underground

Checking Out The Grotto

After a final few steps and a squeeze inside you will find yourself inside the secret grotto in Lifou, and feel like you have entered a different world. The cave is dark and cool, but the water is warm and inviting.

If you are visiting on a cruise ship day you will find many other people also here. The cave may be pretty large. But when you are trying to stuff twenty or thirty people inside it, it quickly begins to feel super small.

Nevertheless, you can enjoy seeing the light from the torches reflecting on the surface of the pool, creating a magical effect. You will hear the sound of water dripping from the ceiling, and the echo of your own voice.

A handful of people went swimming there during my visit. There is a large rope swing so you can plunge into the water, and a questionable-looking ladder to pull yourself back up again.

If you are someone who isn’t comfortable swimming in dark water where you can’t see the bottom, then you may just want to watch from the top.

the tight pathway which opens up to the secret grotto in lifou
the tight pathway which opens up to the secret grotto in lifou
jumping into the dark waters at the secret grotto
jumping into the dark waters at the secret grotto
swimming in the bright blue waters lit up by torches in lifou
swimming in the bright blue waters lit up by torches in lifou

Hiking Back Up

When it is time to go back give yourself a quick dry and chuck on your clothes. The hike back up is harder than the hike down at the secret grotto in Lifou.

You will have to climb up the same obstacles that you went down, but this time against gravity. Be prepared to sweat and pant, and make sure to take breaks every now and then.

In my experience, it took me around 30 minutes or so to hike back up. It isn’t a long track by any means, though it is pretty damn steep. You may also find yourself having to wait for people coming down as the path isn’t overly wide.

Be aware that depending on the weather the track can be muddy so be careful not to slip or fall, as the ground can be slippery and uneven. It takes longer to get back than to get there, so give yourself plenty of time. Especially if you are on a cruise ship.

some of the steep jungle stairs you will need to hike up and down to get to the secret grotto
some of the steep jungle stairs you will need to hike up and down to get to the secret grotto
looking up the pathway back towards the entry at the secret grotto in lifou
looking up the pathway back towards the entry at the secret grotto in lifou

What To Pack For The Secret Grotto In Lifou

If you are planning to visit the secret grotto in Lifou, you might want to pack some items that will make your experience more enjoyable and comfortable.

Here are some of my top suggestions:

Flat-soled shoes: The footpath to the grotto has tree roots everywhere and the descent is very steep and slippery. You will need shoes that are sturdy and have a good grip to avoid falling or injuring yourself.

Torch or flashlight: The grotto is dark and you will need some light to see the stalagmites and stalactites inside. A torch or flashlight will also help you find your way back to the surface after swimming in the grotto.

Swimwear and towel: The grotto has a pool of clear water that you can swim in under torchlight. It is a unique and refreshing experience that you don’t want to miss. Make sure you bring your swimwear and a towel to dry off afterward.

Water and snacks: The walk to the grotto can be tiring and you might get thirsty or hungry along the way. Bring some water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and energized. Remember if you are visiting as part of a cruise they have a water refill station by the dock. You can also buy some local fruit, drinks, and food at the markets near the beach.

Camera: The grotto is a beautiful and mysterious place that you will want to capture in photos. Bring your camera and take some shots of the cave formations, the pool and yourself swimming in it. You can also take some photos of the native flora and fauna on your way to the grotto.

chain and ropes mark the path, though watch your footing at there are a lot of tree roots and rocks
chain and ropes mark the path, though watch your footing at there are a lot of tree roots and rocks

Where To Stay In Lifou?

Unfortunately, many people visit Lifou as just a port stop on a cruise ship, such as myself.

This means there aren’t a whole lot of accommodation options available here. For those people who are willing to get off the beaten track and experience this slice of paradise for longer than 8 hours, you will for sure be rewarded for your efforts in paradise.

Hotel Oasis de Kiamu

Hotel Oasis de Kiamu

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.

Snorkel Jinek Bay: Jinek Bay is a natural aquarium that hosts a rich diversity of corals and fish in its clear and calm waters and is one of the most popular things to do in Lifou. 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 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.

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.

walking back to the main road after hiking the secret grotto in lifou
walking back to the main road after hiking the secret grotto in lifou

Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!


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Come find out all you need to know about checking out the secret grotto in Lifou. In contrast to the name, it isn't actually that secret, but it is still well worth visiting. I will let you know where it is located, the history, entry fees, and what to expect!

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3 thoughts on “Secret Grotto In Lifou: Is It Really Worth It?

  1. Avatar for Laura
    Laura says:

    If you know the way, do you still have to pay for the guide?
    Can you pay in Aussie dollars or do you need to source local currency before going?
    We went here in 2015 with a cruise and only paid a few dollars for the whole family. Am sure we paid in aussie dollars. The guide took us in and there was only one other family with us. He had a spotlight rigged to turn on for us when inside. There were no signs or anything like the one in your picture advertising the cave for $10. I just asked a local who took me to the guide. Sounds like it’s changed a bit.

    • Avatar for Tasha Amy
      Tasha Amy says:

      Unfortunately yes you still need to pay for the guide, and they only take you a couple minutes to the main path, they don’t come down with you. It’s more of an entry fee but for some reason advertised with a “guide”.
      Yes you can pay with AUD, don’t stress at all about sourcing local currency.
      Oh interesting it must’ve actually been a secret back in 2015, its definitely a lot busier now, however a lot of people don’t actually visit because of the difficult hike section.

      • Avatar for Laura
        Laura says:

        Thanks for your fast reply. Not sure it would be worth us going again for $50 (family of 6) if it’s going to be so crowded, but we did enjoy it last time and it is nice that the money goes completely to the locals. I do remember the 6 year old struggling a bit coming back up but was mostly fine.

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