If you love to snorkel and you are travelling to Lifou on your cruise, here is the thing you must do!
Jinek Bay is a Marine Reserve on Lifou that is available to 200 lucky passengers each day for some of the best snorkelling available in the South Pacific.
Don’t miss your chance to experience Jinek Bay!
Read on for The Who, What, Where and How of Jinek Bay Marine Reserve.
Arrival on Lifou
Lifou is a Tender Port. The ship will anchor in the Bay, and the Ships Tenders will ferry you across to the Island. It is only a short Tender ride (about 5 minutes) to the island.
Looking across to your left as you travel towards land you will see a Church perched high up on a hill, and Jinek Bay is just beyond that hill.
Arrival is at a wooden pier set on a large sheltered Bay.
You need to make your own way to Jinek Bay, don’t make the same mistake we did and hang around waiting for a guide! Our ticket said to meet at the Jetty, so it was a little confusing at first.
The Jinek Bay Ticket
You need to buy a ticket before you come over to Lifou. It cost $16pp (AUD) on our Carnival Cruise (other Cruise lines may vary).
Tickets are limited in an effort to reduce damage to the coral. 100 spots are available in the morning, and 100 in the afternoon.
We suggest you buy your ticket as soon as possible (either on-line before you travel If you have that option, or as soon as your board your ship) so you don’t miss out!
All proceeds of Jinek Bay Tickets are handed to the local community to help them maintain the marine reserve.
Your ticket allows you access to the snorkelling area for the duration of your session, you can come and go as you please for the entire time.
IMPORTANT! We witnessed many disappointed people being turned away at Jinek Bay because they didn’t have a ticket. We did see a couple of passengers passing cash to the gate-keeper and getting in, but we also saw many people trying this and being turned away. Make sure you have your ticket when you arrive to avoid disappointment.
Bring all your own snorkelling gear with you, as well as some drinking water.
Morning or Afternoon?
We took the morning session, as we wanted to get the most out of the Bay before the waters were stirred up by too many other swimmers. To be fair, the only place the water was stirred up was around the stairs, so don’t let this influence the session you choose.
We snorkelled between mid and low tide, but we thought the coral viewing would be equally good at any tide.
Getting to Jinek Bay
Walk off the Jetty and turn to the left, following the road along the beachfront. Follow the road as it turns up to the right – you will be walking up a slight hill on the road and there are market stalls along the way. Once you get to the top of the rise you will see a hand-painted sign pointing the way (left) to Jinek Bay. You will reach a fork in the road towards the end of your walk, the left fork will take you up to the Church on the hill. You want to take the right fork, down to Jinek Bay.
The total walking time from the Jetty to Jinek Bay is about 10 minutes. There are a couple of small hills (it’s easy going), and it is hot & humid most of the year, so you will be ready to get into the water once you arrive!
Welcome to Jinek Bay!
You will arrive at a grassy area above the entry to the Bay. The view is stunning, and you can leave your bags & towels on the grass while you are snorkelling.
There is a Toilet block at one end of the bay if you need facilities. We suggest you wear your bathers over from the ship, so you have less to carry.
There are a couple of market stalls here with the locals offering massage and hair braiding, as well as some drinks and souvenirs.
Have a look at the information boards next to the entry stairs. They explain some of the coral and depict a series of Buoys in the water that you may like to follow as an ‘underwater path’. On our visit not all the buoys were in the water, but they are still good a good way to navigate yourself around the Bay.
Respect the Coral
In order to help protect the coral you are asked not to apply sunscreen before you enter the water. There are some special sunscreens you can buy that are eco-friendly, so if you plan on plenty of snorkelling this might be a good investment. Otherwise wear a Rashie.
You will also be reminded of the importance of not touching or standing on the coral. Coral is incredibly delicate, and damages easily so please take care.
Entering Jinek Bay Marine Reserve
Once you are ready to start snorkelling, walk down the stairs and hand your ticket over to the local ‘gate-keeper’. You will have a cotton band tied to your wrist which marks you as having access to the Bay for your session.
There are two sets of stairs directly into the water, and we found the ones on the left (as you enter) had the easier entry/exit point.
There is a small zone around the stairs that is clear of coral, so you can squat in the water here and put on your flippers and snorkel.
Now you are ready to head out into the horse-shoe shaped Bay and enjoy the wonderful experience!
Move away from the stairs, as the coral is damaged and the water gets pretty stirred up there.
Jinek Bay is a perfect location to snorkel even if you are a novice as the Bay is protected from currents and the water is not deep. There were some floatation noodles available to use, if you think you may need some help.
The Bay is bordered by high cliffs all around so if you want to take a break you need to head back to the entry stairs (there is no beach).
Your experience at Jinek Bay is entirely self-guided and un-supervised so adopt a ‘buddy’ system and always keep an eye out for each other while you are in the water.
The Beauty of The Reef
There is really no need for me to wax lyrical about the beauty of the Reef here at Jinek Bay, I think the photos save me the time!
I can say that of all the snorkelling we have done, at many places around the Pacific and Asia this would rate in the top 5. Yes, there are patches of dead coral but take the time to swim further from the shore and you will find pockets of colour, variety and life. The fish-life is prolific and ever-changing, and we found it quite easy to spend almost 3 hours in the water (with a short break on land halfway through)!
The weather on the day we visited Jinek Bay was very wet, but don’t let the rain put you off! There is something quite special about exploring the silent world under-water while the heavens rain down on you from above.
So, if you are lucky enough to be stopping in Lifou and you would like some very easy but very fulfilling snorkelling, get yourself a Jinek Bay Ticket!