Thinking about a perfect destination to unwind and have the most memorable time of your life at? Look no further than New Caledonia. The tropical paradise in the South Pacific is surrounded by crystal clear, turquoise waters and brimming with water adventures that are far from the norm. The "Heart of the Pacific" is one of the world's largest lagoons that will leave you breathless, dazzled, and speechless, especially if you venture to the south in the Isle of Pines.
When to Go
Despite temperatures soaring between May and September, New Zealanders flock to “New Cal” for the boutique hotels, charming beachside cafes, and miles and miles of pristine coastline. To avoid the crowds and the rainy season, plan a visit around July or August when the waters are the perfect temperatures for surfing, snorkeling, and stand up paddle boarding, and the dayside highs will let you hit the green with the locals at one of the many New Caledonia golf courses.
Marvelous Isle of Pines
While locals call it Kunie, the southernmost island in the archipelago is known worldwide as simply the Isle of Pines. Life is much simpler here and most visitors come to embrace the stress-free lifestyle the locals love so much. Lined by its namesake columnar pines, the untouched tropical paradise is perfect for hiking, climbing, and exploring and is only a 20-minute flight from the capital of Noume.
Located within the world's largest lagoon, New Caledonia is recognized as one of the best scuba diving locations in the South Pacific. Multiple tour groups offer day trips for rookie divers and snorkelers who want to explore the coves and see the tropical fish swimming between giant gorgonian and anemones in the reefs. However, you can find plenty of land-based pursuits as well. Bird watching, horseback riding, and guided bush walks are three of the most popular activities on the eastern and western sides of the archipelago, where the landscape is more lush.
The local tourism board pegs the white sand beaches of the Isle of Pines and the surrounding Loyalty Islands as the "jewel of the South Seas." If we had to guess, the secluded beaches and calm waters of Kuto Bay and Kanumera Bay are part of the reason why. Located just minutes apart, each beach has shallow waters that are perfect for beginner snorkelers. Visitors to Kanumera Bay are encouraged to swim out to the sacred rock called Rocher de Kaa Nuë Méra. Depending on the tides, the rock is accessible by a narrow sandbank so families with small children can also visit.
The local Kunie people are extremely friendly, keen on arts and crafts, and eager to share their local customs and history with visitors from the mainland. One of the most popular customs is the Olobatch, the traditional dance, that makes the hula look like child's play. Dressed in traditional garb, dancers of 30 or more frequently flaunt their moves at local festivals throughout the year.