Easo, Lifou, New Caledonia
Lifou Vanilla House
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Sip and savor the many pleasures of Lifou -- an unhurried refuge, a magical blue-green oasis that's a world away from life's hustle and bustle. What better way to make memories of this island paradise than with a two-and-a-half-hour excursion that combines beauty and history with a little bit of shopping!
Board a bus and relax as this enchanting oasis passes your window. Watch for the historic chapel Notre Dame de Lourdes, built in 1898 by Catholic missionaries atop the area's dramatic tree-covered cliffs. The coastal village of Easo, located at the lush, tropical northern end of Lifou, will come into view.
Continue on through a cool, tropical forest, arriving at the Mucaweng Vanilla Plantation -- a working vanilla farm with more than1,000 plants. Set out on a guided tour of the beautiful plantation, which owner Felix Bolé launched in 1983 with cuttings from Lifou's first English missionaries. Learn how vanilla is harvested and how vanilla-infused products are produced while you explore this idyllic setting, which includes robust ferns resting on raised coral 'pillars' and vanilla vines draped over the branches of trees.
Savor the enticing aroma of organic vanilla pods and sample vanilla-flavored coffee or tea and cake. At the end of the tour you'll visit the souvenir shop, where you can purchase vanilla products such as pods, powder, soap, even liqueur to take home.
Stroll through the plantation to Oni Wael for a look at some of the island's animals -- as coconut crabs, bats and pigs. New Caledonia is home to 22 endemic species of terrestrial birds so keep your eyes open -- you may see a black Caledonian raven, a brightly colored New Caledonian parakeet. The kagu is a long-legged, and bluish-grey bird that makes its nest on the ground.
Once you've completed your journey full of sights, scents and tastes, re-board the coach and return to the ship.
Wear light clothing and comfortable walking shoes; bring a hat and sunscreen. The bus is neither air-conditioned nor equipped with a PA system. Local escorts and students will act as guides. Your guide will do his/her best to speak English, but please keep in mind that the limited tourism infrastructure here is part of Lifou's charm, and bear with any language difficulties he/she may encounter. Restroom facilities will be rustic.