This South Pacific nation is situated east of Australia, just a little over two hours’ flight away. As New Caledonia is a French oversee, the main landmass is called Grand Terre, in addition to Iles Loyaute (Loyalty Islands), the eternally beautiful Iles des Pins (Isle of Pines) and numerous small islands and coves dotting the Pacific Ocean. The New Caledonia Lagoon is undoubtedly the biggest attraction of the region. Practically the biggest natural aquarium in the world, this World Heritage site hosts an amazing number of marine creatures for scuba divers and snorkelers. From placid sea turtles, majestic eagle and manta rays, reef sharks and shoals of colourful fishes, divers will find themselves returning to wrecks and caves for another glimpse of the underwater world.
The indigenous Melanesian, or Kanak as they are called, form a little less than 40% of New Caledonia’s population. Europeans make a significant percentage, the country being a French collective after all; the rest being immigrants from other countries. The influence of French culture is all-pervasive to the point that the official language is French. Native languages such as Nengone, Paicî, Ajië and Drehu are four officially recognised from a collection of over 26 regional varieties.
The Kanak villages are a must-experience for travellers to truly grasp the essence of the New Caledonian history and culture. The assimilation of French sophistication and its resultant blend make the country a unique experience for travellers interested in studying how diverse cultures meld to form something entirely new.
For foodies, a walk down the town’s Latin Quarter or its many restaurants, patisseries, bars and clubs will satisfy both the gourmet and adventurer in travellers. Only here will visitors find such a delicious fusion of French and Polynesian cuisine.
Diving and snorkelling are simply superb here. One of the best ways to explore the Grand Terre landmass is to rent a car and go for a winding drive into the forested mountains. For those looking for a kick of adrenaline, the chance to skydive over the world’s largest lagoon is unmissable. Visitors can also go for ultralight and paragliding tours – flying over the ‘Heart of Voh’ is unforgettable. Trekking, hiking and biking down steep nature trails is as enjoyable as they are glorious to see. To unwind, Noumea excels at providing retail therapy with its high streets filled with outlets of almost all French and international designers.
a world of unforgettable experiences
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