New Caledonia, France of the Pacific

New Caledonia, South Pacific

New Caledonia is a remote archipelago out in the South Pacific Ocean. This archipelago is east of Australia and north of New Zealand. The French claimed New Caledonia in 1853 and their influence has led to the country’s unique identity today.

A Slice of Paris

Noumea Harbour, New Caledonia, South Pacific.— Photo by LisaStrachan
Noumea Harbour, New Caledonia, South Pacific.— Photo by LisaStrachan

Often described as a Slice of Paris in the South Pacific, travelers to New Caledonia find themselves in a climate and location that is definitely tropical, yet the main language is French and the shopping, restaurants and nightlife feel distinctly European.

In its 7,171 square miles, New Caledonia has a large bounty of dazzling scenery. French is the official language there, though at least twenty-eight native Kanak languages are also widely spoken.

Grande Terre and Other Islands

New Caledonia
Archipelago – New Caledonia

New Caledonia is centred on Grande Terre, the main island. It also has several groups of smaller islands, the Belep islands north of the main island, the Isle of Pines, further sout,h and the Loyalty islands to the east (Ouvéa, Lifou, Tiga, Maré).

Bathed by the clear waters at the heart of the Pacific Ocean, lulled year round by gentle trade winds, Le Caillou (i.e. the Pebble) has a lot to offer in addition to its heavenly beaches.

New Caledonia
New Caledonia islands

 

New Caledonia – Flora and Fauna

A hundred heavenly sites are spread across the archipelago. There is an inexhaustible number of places to explore and the fauna is outstanding: parrots, blue grouper, grouper, eagle rays, reef sharks, lobsters, and their local cousins, the “popinée”, as well as turtles and dugongs.

New Caledonia is a nature lover’s paradise. Punching above its weight, the island lays claims to impressive natural features including the largest lagoon in the world, a unique blend of flora and fauna, and a 1800km-long (1118 mile) coral reef, second only in size to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Coral Reefs and Lagoons

Lush green landscape and blue waters of New Caledonia
Lush green landscape and blue waters of New Caledonia

The Caledonian lagoon covers a total area of 24,000sq km, which makes it one of the largest in the world. It is surrounded by a 1,600 km long coral reef, situated between 10 and 50km from the coast. Water temperature varies between 22 and 30°C.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Amedee Lighthouse in New Caledonia
Amedee Lighthouse in New Caledonia

On July 7th 2008, a great part of the lagoons of New Caledonia was registered on the UNESCO world heritage.

It is the 33rd site registered on the world heritage for France, and more particularly its second natural site after the gulf of Porto (registered in 1983) and the first overseas.

Also see: Canyon du Verdon in France