New Caledonia is a group of islands that delivers a taste of la Belle France in the heart of the Pacific. Its main island, or La Grande Terre, is baguette-shaped, with its cosmopolitan capital city, Noumea, located near the southern tip. It’s encircled by a vast barrier reef to create one of the world’s largest lagoons. That lagoon is dotted with islands of unbelievable beauty, including the Loyalty Islands and the famed Isle of Pines, and there are few better, more magical ways to experience them than on a cruise holiday.
Long stretches of white sand beach interrupted by tiny coves with limestone caves and imposing cliffs give the island one of the most dramatic landscapes in the Pacific. The largest of the three main Loyalty Islands, this is a wonderful place in which to experience a taste of Melanesian culture with a village visit, or you may prefer to take a guided walk through the rainforest to the island’s Secret Grotto.
The southernmost of the Loyalty Islands, Maré is a raised coral atoll that has been described as about as close to paradise as you will ever come. Pay a visit to the village of Eni, where you’ll have the opportunity to try fresh local food including the famed bougna and relax on the village beach, or take a bus ride to Yejele Beach – a secluded stretch of pure white sand and crystal-clear waters that must be seen to be believed.
As your ship drops anchor in the sparkling, clear waters of the Isle of Pines, you’ll quickly discover why this island is often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Pacific’ – its beauty is simply breath-taking. A tour of the island will include historic points of interest such as the enchanting Cave of Queen Hortense, or you can take a short boat ride to the uninhabited islet of Ile Moro, keeping an eye open for green turtles, manta rays, dolphins and other marine life that inhabit the blue waters of the lagoon.
No visit to New Caledonia would be complete without spending time in the capital city, Noumea, which combines the charms of a provincial French city with the warm welcome of the Pacific Islands. Spoil your taste buds with authentic French delights such as freshly-baked pastries and warm crepes, get up close to unique local wildlife (including the iconic cagou bird) at the Parc Forestier, climb the Phare Amedée lighthouse for breath-taking views of the lagoon and reef or ride the famed Tchou Tchou train around the bays.
These four enchanting destinations are the undeniable highlights of a nine-night cruise itinerary, but you’ll also have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the many onboard delights: from the largest adventure park at sea to the tranquil haven of the ship’s Spa, there is something for everyone. If this sounds like your kind of Pacific Island holiday, talk to your personal travel manager today.