Set it the world’s largest lagoon, with the second largest reef on Earth, the palm trees and white sands of the archipelago of New Caledonia glow with exotic romance. The astonishing beauty of Grande-Terre, the Belep Islands, the Pins Islands and the Loyauté Islands is reflected in the wonderful warmth of the people of the islands. A yacht charter is the ideal way to experience the long, quiet beaches and take advantage of the onboard toys to kayak round tiny islets and snorkel in some of the world’s best sites. Beyond the tropical scenery, the French influence means that the islands are filled with exquisite cuisine and excellent wine. The cosmopolitan centre of Noumea brings together the best of the two cultures, creating a chic modern city filled with fine dining and stylish boutiques that has the beautiful warmth of the Melanesian culture. Sail to the heart of Oceania to experience the perfect tranquillity that you have been searching for.
Key Cruising Areas: The main island and islets of New Caledonia offer a number of anchorages, and it is an ideal place to start a South Pacific cruise to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
Don’t Miss: The best way to view the archipelago is by air. See the islands from an incredible angle with a private helicopter tour. The Ile de Pins and world’s largest lagoon are stunning from the air, but the pièce de resistance has to be the Coeur de Voh – a mangrove swamp which has grown into the shape of a heart (and can only be seen from above) that has become an iconic symbol of the romantic destination.
Best Spots for Wining and Dining: Its French heritage means that New Caledonia is not short of excellent places to eat and drink. The capital of Noumea is the gourmet epicenter of the island, filled with bars and restaurants. One not to be missed is L’Hippocampe. The chic décor and exquisite food will make a memorable evening – order the degustation menu for a gastronomic adventure!
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Local Culture: The fascinating blend of French and Melanesian influences give the islands their unique ambience, a mixture of modern and simple traditional customs. Visit the New Caledonia Museum to see an amazing collection of Melanesian art, or the Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Noumea to listen to the legends told by the tribes.
Best Beach: Powder-soft sand, walking trails through pretty forests and a number of good beach resorts make Kanumera Bay on the Ile de Pins a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. The bay is especially beautiful at sunset, when the huge, sacred coral rocks are silhouetted against burning skies.
IYC recommends: Travel to the east of Grand-Terre to experience Kanak life. Many tribes have opened their doors to visitors in recent years. Bring a customary gift for a homestay in a traditional hut. Experience the warm welcome of the Melanesians, learn about their customs and secret caves, beaches and other sites, then finish with a real treat – traditional food. The most traditional is bougna – lobster or fish (or for special occasions, flying fox) with yams, sweet potatoes and coconut cooked on hot stones in banana leaves.
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