When a lot of people think of exotic islands, New Caledonia is hardly ever mentioned amongst the high profile usual locales for beach holidays. It is a great alternative for some of us who prefer to have a more private and less crowded experience... If you’re looking to snorkel in warm tropical waters as well as enjoy delicious french cheeses and wines, trying fresh seafood caught daily at Port Moselle, go picnic-ing near the waters of Duck Island, view the lush greenery of Isle of Pines, then this destination should definitely be in your cruise itinerary.
Grande Terre is the main island of New Caledonia, literally translating to “Large Island” in French. It’s indented coastlines flourish with colorful coral reefs are bound to amuse all snorkelers out there. The island is also made up of white sandy beaches, which they say are as sof t as talc powder (ooh~ imagine how that feel on your toes as you stroll). It is known as the ‘Land of eternal spring’ and is so blessed with pleasant climate all year round, one should visit throughout April to November when considering sailing!
Start in the bustling city of Noumea - THE main city on Grande Terre that is over 150 years old. It is the melting pot of culture that offers a wide range of options for culinary explorers, shoppers and night owls. For lookout points, one can go to Mount Coffyn for sights of Noumea’s neighborhoods and appreciate the Koghi mountain range, mountains of the Grand Sud and Ouen-Toro. Enjoy Baie de Anse Vata – the city’s largest beach; a paradise for both windsurfers and kite surfers alike...
Located in the south province of New Caledonia – and the first to be discovered by Captain James Cook on his second voyage to New Zealand, is the “Ile des Pins” or Isle of Pines. It is a stunning sanctuary for beautiful banyan trees and columner pines, standing on deserted beaches surrounded by turqoise waters and coral gardens. A couple of reccomendations for you to explore would be: a kilometer long beach at Kuto Bay, snorkel around a huge coral block locals call “The Sacred Rock” at Kanumera Bay, or visit the Catholic Church at the Vao Settlement.
For luxurious private bungalows or pavillions with pool views of bright blue lagoons at Oro Bay, stay at none other than the Le Meridien Ile des Pins. Imagine Melanesian-inspired architechture is made with polished timber floors and airy, open spaces surrounded by five hectares of luscious green pines and coconut groves... It will no doubt intensify any romance, or chill any stress. Don’t miss the nature walks and cycling tours, or go kayaking, pedal boating, or snorkelling in the inviting tropical sea. Click for more information on the hotel facilities and bookings.
If you’re looking for an authentic get-with-the-locals kind of experience, then be sure to book a slow cooked homemade lunch up in the hills with the local tribes of the native people of New Caledonia, known as the Kanak people. The bougna (pronounced boo-nya) means “bundle”; fitting, as it is a traditional dish that is wrapped in banana leaves like a pack, containing the country’s staples like rice, fish, root vegetables (taro, yams,sweet potatoes) and fresh fruit, all cooked in a ground oven.
For a special gastronomic experience at Noumea, walk across a suspending bridge onto a beach bungalow suspended over pristine pools called Le Roof. As you enjoy classic French fare with an emphasis on seafood, enjoy looking over into the lagoon below, as a big square has been cut out of the restaurant floor so that patrons are able to look over sharks, remoras, stingrays and sea-snakes. If you’re lucky, you migh even see a dolphin popping its head over the water, asking for your coconut shrimp!
New Caledonia’s unique French/Melanesian culture generates the best kinds of wine, gooey French cheese, fresh baguettes, chocolates, and patissieries! The flavours of France are everywhere in this small Pacific island, with many bistro fares, cafe food and casual eateries spread along the Baie des Critrons (Lemon Bay) and Anse Vata. Before you finish off your trip swimming around the whole island, be sure to attend the Giant Omelette Festival in March, Avocado Festival in May, or Coffee Festival in August.
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