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New Caledonia Travel Guide

Nathalo, Lifou Island
The case of the grand chief of Nathalo
on Lifou Island.

Sights Around Lifou

is situated on Châteaubriand Bay at the south end of a magnificent white beach, 22 km south of the airport. Wé's Catholic church (1897) with its round towers looks like it was transported here from Mexico.

In recent years, Wé has been developed with the large new Loyalty Islands Provincial Headquarters, a town hall, upscale resort, and wide boulevard. In 2003, a yacht harbor with 40 berths was constructed next to the main wharf at Wé. Deep-sea fishing trips are organized.

The highway from Wé to Mu and Xodré follows the coast beside a cliff thick with stalagmites and passes a superb protected beach with talcum sand at Luengöni. A large cave with an underground pool is found here. The road ends at Xodré, 42 km south of Wé, where huge waves crash into the coastal cliffs.

The case (1976) of the grand chief of Nathalo, three km from the airport, is the largest of its kind in New Caledonia. A low palisade surrounds this imposing structure held aloft by great tree trunks set in a circle. You're allowed to go inside. Even more massive is nearby Nathalo Church (1883), a monument to the zeal of early French Catholicism. The interior retains its original decoration.

About 17 km northwest of Nathalo is Jokin village, where tourist bungalows are perched above the coastal cliffs. There's a chance to see whales in September and October, and the snorkeling here is good.

A cave and underground pool are near the highway on the east side of Xépénéhe—in fact, you'll find these everywhere on Lifou if you ask. One of the most picturesque spots on the island is the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes (1886), perched atop a peninsula above Sandalwood Bay beyond the end of the road at Easo, five km west of Xépénéhe. The view from the chapel is breathtaking, and there's a fair beach nearby (on any other island it would be considered excellent). Cruise ships call at Easo from time to time. Lagoon Safari based at Chez Benoit in Easo offers scuba diving.

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