Met with Kanak music, dance and a magical sunset at Nouméa Airport, we raced up the coastline to Bourail. Admittedly, we caught the back end of a tropical cyclone, yet we were beyond excited to explore. The mainland’s west coast is understated, agricultural at first glance, concealing incredible biodiversity and giving way to a UNESCO protected reef.
Only when you get to the coast or into the hills, you realise the sheer scale of the island. The coastal reef at Bourail forms the largest lagoon on the planet. Who knew? Four species of sea turtle await year round, while whales can be spotted between July and September. Naturally, cyclones and snorkelling don't go together that well, which means we must return to sea to see our sea turtle friends. (Couldn't help myself...)
If the winds pick up, one thing I do recommend is kite surfing. Apparently, it's some of the world's best out there.
On Saturday, after a windswept lunch overlooking the lagoon, we headed to New Caledonia's capital Nouméa. I have to be honest with you guys. Nouméa seems a little out of place, almost like a large, provincial town from New Zealand dropped in the tropics. In saying that, who travels to a tropical island for an urban getaway?
On Sunday, it was time to tick one off the bucket list. A short flight later, we found ourselves on The Isle of Pines, an island so gorgeously remote and beautifully devoid of tack, I'm already scheming a return. Kanak culture and Polynesian influence were prevalent and genuine, something I'd love to learn more about next time. With the winds still in full force, we found shelter at the most magical place. It goes by the name of Le Méridien Ile des Pins, and oh my, you must stay there! Well, in fact, we must too - a lunch sure wasn't enough. We spent the day sailing the surrounding areas with a local fisherman, walking through the tropical rainforest, and, best of all, swimming at the well known natural swimming pool - all nearby the Méridien.
Windswept and with very happy hearts, we set back off to Nouméa and, just like that, we found ourselves back at home in New Zealand.
New Caledonia is a place unlike anywhere else I've stepped foot in. With its many influences from the French to the Kanak, it feels wonderfully diverse and genuinely like one of a kind. I believe the remote islands surrounding Nouméa is where the real magic happens. Who's ready to dive in and explore?
Best time to goMay to November
Where we stayedSheraton Deva Golf Resort - The perfect location to snorkel the Bourail reef.
Le Méridien Nouméa - Perfect for stopovers or before flying back home.
Le Méridien Ile Des Pins - One of the most stunning resorts we have ever seen.
How to get there
Air New Zealand had us covered. Direct 3h flights from Auckland to Nouméa.