Saturday, May 7, 2016


By Nicole Noël

Discover the Best Kept Secret
of the Pacific Ocean

New Caledonia (Photo courtesy of

Visiting the tropical islands of Pacific is every traveler’s dream. Who would not want to see Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji or Maui? These places are packed with tourists and a part of their culture and tradition had to be surrendered in order to cater to those visitors. However, for all those that have real sense of adventure and a thriving need to discovers something authentic and less mainstream – New Caledonia is the right place. 

The Islands that Make New Caledonia

Photo courtesy of Nicole Noël (Click to enlarge)

The largest stretch of land that makes New Caledonia is Grande Terre. Just north from it and in line with its long and narrow surface is the Belep Island, while Isle of Pines is on the South. The rest of the islands, named Loyalty Islands are Ouvea, Lifou, Tiga and Mare. All these, together with the remote and inhabited Chesterfield Islands, make the Kanaky – old Melanesian name for New Caledonia. There are many islets and atolls here, as well. Grande Terre is one of the largest islands in the Pacific. It is the home of the capital and the only real city here – Noumea. The Loyalty islands are gorgeous formations full of lagoons, coral reefs and dramatic cliffs sloping into the ocean.

The Clash of Cultures in New Caledonia

Photo courtesy of Nicole Noël

Cultural diversity of New Caledonia is truly remarkable. The Loyalty Islands are mostly inhabited by the native Melanesian, Kanak people who cherish their traditions. Their way of life still greatly relies on the old customs and traditions and you can have a truly authentic experience there. The streets and houses of Noumea will testify that the British were once here, but the French rule definitely left its mark in architecture and style.

However, the Tjibaou Cultural Center is an ode to the traditional style and eco-friendly architecture. There are also some Polynesian settlers, as well as the descendants of Asian settlers. The people are very friendly and welcoming to respectful tours, so you should definitely ask politely about anything you want to know. Visit Port Moselle and the great La Marche market to get insight into the vibrant life of the locals.

The Magical Natural Wonders of New Caledonia

Photo courtesy of Nicole Noël

One of the most amazing things about this place are the coral reefs that are surpassed in their size only by the Great Barrier Reef. The Loyalty islands have kilometers of white sand beaches and blue lagoons. The South Lagoon at the Isle of Pines, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the largest and the finest lagoon in the world. Every good New Caledonia travel itinerary includes a visit to this place.

While these lagoons and beaches are characteristic for a tropical island, the West part of archipelago is covered with dry forests and mangroves along the coast. One of them is called the Heart of Voh and it is world-famous. Contrasting to that, the east coast boasts lush forests, waterfalls and river estuaries that lend themselves for hiking and exploration.

Plants and Animals That Found Their Home Here

Photo courtesy of Nicole Noël

The sub-tropical climate promises beautiful fauna and flora. Since this is a distant archipelago, the flora is ancient and preserved. A lot of it is called – the living fossils. The Isle of Pines is full of grand columnar pines. Besides that, you can enjoy the sights of palm trees, as well. However, it will be a true delight for every botanist to enjoy the giant tree fern that can grow over 30 m in height. As for the wildlife, you can hope to spot a flying fox, or hear the unique cagou – the bird that barks.

Hiking is definitely something to do in New Caledonia. You can never walk enough here, as there is something to see behind every corner. The coral reefs make this a perfect place for snorkelling or diving, especially if you go to check out the shipwrecks. You can go canoeing or horse riding or even enjoy windsurfing. If the season is right, you can even watch the whale migration in the big lagoon. New Caledonia and its authentic charm wait for you to discover it.

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