Third largest island in the Pacific after Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, New Caledonia is only 1,500 km east off the coast of Australia. Seeing this “terra incognita” in 1774, the British navigator James Cook found a similarity between the mountainous terrain of the Grande Terre and his native Scotland, whose former name was “Caledonia.”
From coast to coast, New Caledonia, which stretches some 500 kilometres passing through the archipelago of Loyalty Islands, is home to surprising and remarkably diverse landscapes. Acting like a, a mountain range separates the Grande Terre (the main island) into two coasts, both with distinct characteristics.
n the southwest, Noumea, the economic heart of the country concentrating population and economic activity, is a European city in Melanesia. Pavement cafes, luxury boutiques and beaches shaded by palm trees give the city a French Riviera feel, while its relaxed atmosphere and wide blue skies add a touch of the Pacific.
The West Coast and the East Coast
To the North of Noumea, along the West Coast are vast plains for livestock farming. This is where you will meet the Broussards: “cowboys” of the Pacific, with their pioneering spirit and colourful personality. The region is also home to fabulous beaches and, in the far north, a string of islands, whose waters team with fish.
Wetter and steeper, the East Coast has a fertile soil with lush vegetation, green valleys and stunning waterfalls.
The Loyalty Islands and the Ile des Pins
Off Grande Terre – the mainland, the Iles Loyauté (Loyalty Islands) have three main islands Lifou, Maré and Ouvéa – where nature displays her splendour on both land and sea. There, life is organized around the tribes and the customs of the Kanak culture are still very much alive.
In the extreme south of Grande-Terre, the legendary Ile des Pins is a haven for visitors in search of unspoilt beauty.
An exceptional biodiversity
Sanctuary of the earth’s biodiversity, New Caledonia is THE destination for nature lovers. It boasts of 3,500 varieties of plants of which three-quarters are endemic, 4,300 species of terrestrial animals, 1,000 species of fish and 6,500 marine invertebrates.
Listed as World Heritage site by UNESCO, the coral reef, which unites the archipelago and surrounds an astonishing lagoon, hides a preserved ecosystem.
Inhabited for some 3,000 years by the Kanak and the French since 1853, New Caledonia is also rich in its people. In successive waves, the archipelago became home for Europeans, Asians, Polynesians, and even people from Reunion, who together with the Melanesians, form a multicoloured, multicultural population. Come and meet them!