“Here in New
Caledonia, the seasons are as follows: October to December is the
the warm, dry season, while January to March are warm and wet (it’s
also the cyclone season…) The place is fantastic, and there’s no
bad time to visit – despite the occasional cyclone. Unlike the
other islands of Polynesia, they drive on the right – good news for
European and North American drivers!
For anyone planning
to visit, my advice is to book your
accommodation early, because it’s a
a very popular holiday destination for French, Australian, and American
travelers. Of course, you’re also more likely to get a bargain if
you book ahead.
Traveling in Asia
had accustomed me to dirt and litter everywhere, so the immaculate
cleanliness of the island’s main port, Noumea, came as a shock.
“This is no Asia.”
We decided to visit
the Tjibaou Center, which celebrates the culture of the indigenous
Melanesian/Kanak peoples. Unfortunately, the introductory video was
only in French, so while of course, we were the only viewers, we
didn’t understand a single word. Still, the recordings were
interesting, and our stroll through the paths of the paradisiacal
gardens lefts a deep impression.
winding dirt roads lined with very thin-trunked, pine-like trees, we
came to some extraordinarily romantic spots. Before us was the ocean,
sparkling with every conceivable shade of blue. To reach it, however,
sometimes involved struggling through dense mangroves. But with the
temperature climbed to an uncomfortable 38°C,
we paused in the shade for a quick gastronomic experience (during
which we fell into conversation with some locals, who always seem to
be drinking coffee and chatting in such places). Then we were on our
“A moving moment…
My partner always
buys (and sends) postcards from our travel destinations. That was the
plan here as well, but we didn’t have any local money and the
The Melanesian lady behind the counter didn’t really know what to do
with either US or Australian dollars. After a moment’s thought, she
took some money out of her own (!) wallet and put it in the register,
then handed over the postcards with a smile, and blew a kiss towards
my partner to signify that the problem was solved. She then handed
back the global currency, saying apologetically that alas, “mon
petit”, it was worthless to her.
There are some wonderfully strange people in the world…
“We set off
towards Lemon Bay, which is, without doubt, the locals’ favorite spot
on the island. The beach was perfect. There were no sun umbrellas,
but there were enormous native palms, which cast welcome shade. The
crystal-clear waters of the Coral Sea were a balmy 28°C
– all in all, a very difficult place to leave…
“The last time I was here, there was a small secluded part of the lagoon I would visit to relax and dive. Setting off this time, I was stopped by a sign which stated that I couldn’t go that way because it was ‘dangerous’. It should be noted that there are venomous water snakes (black and white in color) and sharks can be found in this place. (I don’t usually swim deep enough to meet them, except once when I went diving at the big coral reef.) Since I wasn’t alone, we decided to move on to the pristine lagoon. It is a half-hour walk from the port. Along the way, we stopped at several places to take pictures and admire the scenery. The temperature must have been about 30 degrees Celsius, maybe even more.
Several cars passed us on the way, but fortunately, none stopped to question us. At last, based on the directions I’d been given, we managed to find the beach. We were lucky enough to meet two other people who knew the place. We were there for a few hours, and I spent practically all the time in the water, it felt so good. Maybe I was a fish in my previous life, which would explain why I am so attracted to the sight of the sea. I could swim in it for hours. But I don't think anyone could have resisted that place.” (2018)
“The smaller islands where the ship anchors are Mare, Lifou, and the Isle of Pines. Here I always stay close to the beach, because the water is so beautiful. The colors are completely captivating, even when it’s raining. There are not many hiking opportunities in these places. The main things here are easy diving and island tours. So, if you prefer relaxation over-energetic activities, these places are perfect.
Seeing the turquoise waters and the white sandy beach, you just want to stay there all day and admire the beauty of the place. It feels like you’re in a dream, but no. This is also part of reality.
On the island of Mare there is a ‘natural aquarium’ that not many people know about (or know about, but just don’t get to). From the boat, everyone heads straight for the beach (Yejele Beach). I managed to discover this hidden place, with its untouched nature (the Natural Aquarium). It’s only a 45-minute walk from the boat, but that feels long in the heat of the day. Signs also show the way. And the spectacle is worth the effort.
On the island of Lifou, you can also go swimming in a cave. It’s not easy to find this either, but as they say, he who seeks will find. The cave is located after the Catholic church, about a quarter of an hour's walk from the port. The depth is seven meters, and the water is crystal clear and refreshing. (2018)