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New Caledonia

Home > Pacific Ocean > New Caledonia
Baleine à bosse Nouvelle Calédonie baie de Prony @ Hervé Bré
Tieti diving Poindimié @ Laetitia Scuiller

The French Pacific Ocean archipelago of New Caledonia is a picture postcard site with its dense vegetation, its celestial islands and the largest lagoon in the world. Without mentioning the contrasting landscapes, the rich biodiversity and the intermixing of people from different origins which make this destination the ultimate adventure destination. Enough to bewitch even the most seasoned travellers… Since the coral reefs have been included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in July 2008, the destination plays the card of sustainable tourism and offers a growing green accommodation and ecofriendly outdoor activities. 

Aqualagoon offers snorkelling outings to discover  the remarkable biodiversity of the coral ecosystems, in all comfort...

With its magnificent beaches of white sand, its lagoon in shades of turquoise and its glittering mushroom rocks, Pine Island...

With over 10 years of immersion in the area, the diving center Diving Tiéti makes you discovering a landscape pierced by...

With the opening of the Kanua Tera eco-lodge, the first of its kind in the territory, New Caledonia is concretely embarking on...

The natural reserve of l'île aux Canards Duck Island provides an underwater path easily accessible to explore...

As the flagship of the opening up of the North Province to sustainable tourism, the Tiéti Beach Resort combines...

Exploring the Forgotten Coast ( La Côte Oubliée) is a quality activity to undertake in New Caledonia. The outing enjoys a certain...

Les sentiers sous-marin et botanique de l'îlot de Yeega ont été créés pour faire découvrir aux visiteurs la multitude d'espèces...

Specializing in snorkeling, Aquanature is part of an eco-tourism approach to discover coral ecosystems.

Heavenly and diversified landscapes

New Caledonia is located 1,500 km away from Australia and is the third biggest island in the Pacific. The main island is Grande Terre and the archipelago also comprises the Loyalty Islands to the east, Pine Island to the south and the Belep Islands to the north. While the islands present heavenly scenery, Grande Terre has an extremely diversified landscape. The southern part of the main island features red earth and a plain of lakes in the south. The western coast is arid with bare plains and ‘niaouli’ savannahs. The eastern coast is covered with lush vegetation and a humid forest while the central part of the island comprises valleys, rivers and forests. The coral reef of New Caledonia is a hot spot of world biodiversty and is the second-largest barrier reef in the world, with some 15,000km² divided into six sites are included on the UNESCO World Heritage sites list. In some place, one can even see double or triple barrier reefs, which is really remarkable knowing that there are less than ten of these in the world!



General climate


The tropical ocean climate is tempered by trade winds. The hot season stretches from November to March with temperatures between 22°C and 31°C, while the cool season starts in April with temperatures between 15°C and 26°C. Cyclones and storms accompanied by torrential downpours are most common from December to April. Air and sea temperatures in the archipelago average 29°C and 25°C respectively in January and 29°C and 26°C in February.




The fauna and flora of New Caledonia have been cut off from the world for 30 million years and the archipelago is blessed with a remarkable biodiversity as well as the highest rate of endemism in the world. The Caledonian forest on its own counts over 2,500 endemic plant species and is considered as the ‘Premier botanical garden of the South Pacific region. The Institute for Research and Development (IRD) has identified more than 20,000 marine species with a number of rare seashells and living fossils, including the famous Nautilus shell, which has barely evolved in 400 million years.
Local institutions and authorities are concerned with the preservation of natural and cultural sites and have adopted strict protection measures. Natural reserves have also been set up to protect the most vulnerable zones and avoid the extinction of endangered species such as the sea turtle, the dugong or the cagou. The latter, a peculiar wader which barks and runs around, is the national bird of New Caledonia.

The reefs and the lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The coral reefs of New Caledonia are in an excellent state of conservation and are considered a hot spot of the planet’s biodiversity by the international community. They have been included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in July 2008. The project for the site to be included on the UNESCO list was launched in 2001 by local environment protection associations and was subsequently supported by the Provincial Assemblies, the Government of New Caledonia and the Customary Senate. Their support was imperative to ensure the success of the endeavour. Six sites that are representative of the coral reefs of New Caledonia have been included on the list. This serial property proposed to the UNESCO under the heading: “Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems” comprises over 15,000km² of lagoons and reefs, i.e. 60% of the lagoons of Grande Terre and the Loyalty Islands. This inclusion is seen as a major step forward for the destination and reinforces the international recognition of the remarkable value of its lagoons and coral reefs. Moreover, this will enhance awareness among the locals of the need to protect the marine environment and to adopt a sustainable development approach that is acknowledged and supported at international level. Finally, it is an opportunity to position New Caledonia as a nature destination that promotes ecologically responsible tourism.  

An initiative to protect sharks under way

On 18 February 2009, the Provincial Assembly of the South Province has adopted a bill that was meant to list sharks among endangered species and ban finning (the removal and retention of shark fins). But at the last minute, sharks were removed from the list of protected species! This turnaround has caused the indignation of the Longitude 181 NATURE association, speaking on behalf of thousands of divers and sea buffs, and has given rise to a petition.  

A whale sanctuary

An estimated 300 to 600 humpback whales transit in the waters of New Caledonia between July and October. Since 2003, the Congress of New Caledonia has established a whale sanctuary that covers its exclusive economic zone. The South Province has recently extended this sanctuary to all sea mammals, namely dolphins and dugongs, in waters under its authority. A leaflet on the proper approach to whale watching has been published by the Directorate of Natural Resources of the South Province.  

Renewable energies
In the recent few years, solar energy has become very popular in New Caledonia, with an increasing number of solar water heaters and solar panels. The most secluded zones of New Caledonia can thus have access to electricity. The ADEME (French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management) in involved in helping to solve environmental issues in New Caledonia since 1995. In 15 years, 1,500 photovoltaic structures, 50 photovoltaic pumps, 2,500 solar water heaters, 4 eolian structures and 13 hydroelectric structures have been installed. According to this organisation, the archipelago will have, in the near future, a true technological show window in terms of photovoltaic and eolian energy.

New Caledonia counts a number of marinas offering the best comfort conditions to pleasure crafts – from the super yacht to the tiniest of crafts – alongside the quay or at moorage in Noumea, We (Lifou), Hienghene or Koumac… The marinas in Noumea are located a short distance away from the market, restaurants, Internet cafés, the post office and other attractions. Port Moselle is the most important yachting harbour of Noumea and of the whole territory. It is the port of entry and a port of call in New Caledonia. All pleasure crafts must berth in Port Moselle upon arrival to complete the formalities at the harbour master’s office, customs and immigration services to be allowed in the harbour.
The 17 floating landing stages of the New Caledonian Nautical Club can accommodate 620 boats. Facilities available comprise a clubhouse with a bar, a pub and restaurant, a careening area and an elevator. The club hosts deep sea races from neighbouring countries to Noumea. It also holds races in the lagoon, big game fishing contests and evening parties. Some 10 rental companies holding the professional quality certification offer an array of sailboats, monohulls or catamarans, as well as motorboats with or without skipper. These boats are equipped with all the modern comfort and are suitable for navigation in all safety in the lagoon or in the open sea to moor around the islets or in the bays. One- or multiple-day charter outings are also offered by NUC (boats for collective transport) classified boats complying with professional security standards and steered by a qualified crew or skipper. A professional and experienced crew provides visitors with an ideal solution to discover in all serenity the most beautiful mooring sites of the archipelago.

Exploitation of the maritime domain

The exclusive economic zone of New Caledonia stretches over 1,450,000km², i.e. half the surface area of the Mediterranean Sea. Professional fishing in the archipelago comprises three distinct fields of activity. 
  • Lagoon fishing is undertaken within the lagoon and its produce (sea cucumbers and shell fish) is sold on the local market and exported to Asian countries.
  • Coastal fishing is undertaken outside the lagoon. The deep sea fish and pelagic fish caught in the territorial waters are sold on the local market.Finally, deep-sea fishing is practised in the exclusive economic zone using longliner boats. The catches, which consist of white and yellow tuna, marlins, shortfin mako sharks and swordfish, are mainly exported to Europe and Japan.

  • Leisure fishing and fishing for self-reliance are mostly practised within the lagoon and the yearly catch is evaluated at 3,500 tonnes.

The fish farming sector mainly focuses on prawn culture, which started in the early 1980s following research work undertaken by the IFREMER (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea) to determine the most appropriate prawn species as well as reproduction and farming techniques. The activity actually ranks second among Caledonian exports. During the 2006-2007 campaign, 19 farms with a total surface area of 640ha produced 1,800 tonnes of prawns. 

The ‘Alizes’ section of the New Caledonian Nautical Club (CNC) regroups sailing buffs among the club’s 1,700 members. This autonomous section holds a series of regattas in inhabitable sailboats that are open to all between February and December. The programme comprises gatherings among die-hard regatta lovers as well as a concentration of sailboats. The atmosphere is more festive than competitive with barbecues on islets and in bays. The section also holds deep sea regattas like the Noumea-Port Vila race in 2007 or the Whangarei-Noumea and the Noumea-Brisbane races a few years back.

The Auckland-Noumea deep sea race: Last year, the famous deep sea race to Auckland, held by the Fiji Islands in 2005 and 2006, then by Port Vila in 2007 and again by the Fiji Islands, came back to the lagoons of New Caledonia after five years. The departure was scheduled on 27 June 2009 at 2pm. The 70-hour record mark is held since 2004 by New Zealand super maxi Zana. The CNC has registered 25 participants for this race, including some boats drawing up to 4 metres of water. Three Caledonian sailboats were enrolled in the race.

The East-West round New Caledonia sailboat race: The first edition of the East-West round New Caledonia sailboat race was held between 13 and 19 September 2008 and it is fast becoming a reference among sea races. A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the CNC and French bank and insurance company Groupama, with the endorsement of French navigator Franck Cammas. Participants must sail 600 miles and set a reference time. Noumea is the departure and arrival point of this race, with two compulsory turning points, namely Cape N’Dua to the south and the northeastern tip of the Grand Passage. All inhabitable boats with an ORC Club tonnage certificate can take part in the race. There are three types of ranking: monohulls in real time, monohulls in corrected time and catamarans in real time. The first edition of the Groupama Race was won by Caledonians: in corrected time, ‘TFO les Huitres de Dumbea’ ranked first ahead of ‘Team Australia les Nouvelles’ and ‘Team New Zealand’, which have taken part in various transoceanic races as well as the prestigious America’s Cup.

The Beneteau – Lagoon Cup Noumea-Port Vila: The Beneteau – Lagoon Cup regatta between Noumea and Port Vila departed on 5 September 2009. Held in collaboration with French boatmaker Beneteau, the Beneteau Cups are convivial events open to all leisure craft owners.

The Pine Island Regatta in Solo/Duo: This race was held on 01 May 2009. The reference time in duo for the Noumea/Kuto/Noumea trip is 17hrs49m21s, with an average speed of 7 knots.

The Axxess Travel Grand Prix took place between 21 February and 9 August 2009. Held for the first time in New Caledonia, this multiple-regatta race is open to Elliott 5.9 sports boats and is held on equal terms. The race is open to any 4-people crew aboard boats provided by the organisers. Last year, 15 crews contended for the title, including 2 all-women and 2 all-youth crews. The winners had the chance to represent the archipelago in the National Keelboat, in New Zealand. 

The Hobie Cat 16 Championship of New Caledonia takes place over two consecutive week-ends in the bay of Sainte Marie. The 15th Hobie Cat 16 World Championship was organised between 01 and 13 April 2002 and was the most important regatta to ever take place in New Caledonia. Since 2001, the last leg of the Kiteboard Pro Tour is held in New Caledonia, after which the world champions in the discipline are crowned. The championship takes place on the stretch of water of the Meridien Noumea beach with a speed crossing event to the Amedee lighthouse.  

The Great Lagoon Regatta is a new sailing race organised in the fantastic New Caledonian lagoon. This three days race allowed twenty boats


Cultural highlights of the destination

The population of the archipelago is as diverse as its scenery. It comprises Kanaks (Melanesian people), Caledonians (descendants of European colons also called ‘Caldoches’, people from mainland France (called ‘Z’oreilles’), Europeans as well as people of Wallisian, Polynesian and Asian origins – nearly 246,000 inhabitants living together on the same piece of rock. The Kanak people have Austronesian ancestry and settled in the archipelago some 3,000 years ago. They represent less than 44% of the population. There are more than 30 Kanak dialects and respect for tradition is part of the daily life of the people. They still follow their usual custom and courtesy remains very much alive among the people, whether they live in the bush or in the islands. When different tribes visit each other, they carry on the custom of offering a little gift to the chief (a pareu, cigarettes or banknotes...) as a mark of respect.

Informations pratiques

Best time for a visit

Climate is suitable whole year but there is a winter time season from June to September with temperatures which can become as low as 14° C at night at sea side. If you stay in mountains it can be colder. Nevertheless on sunny days the temperature remains very nice around 25° C. On summer you are under tropics and temperature is around 30°C. Cyclones can occur at the hottest period of the year from December to April. 
Sea temperature depending of the season remains around  22° C for reaching 28° on summer.


Local companies to get in touch for organizing sea activities

Aventure Pulsion: a very well known private company established since a long time which organizes in good and safe conditions quantity of kayak  adventure trips for one or several days in gorgeous places. 

We recommand:

  •  the Côte Oubliée , a four days raid in conditions which could become rough without any available immediate possible rescue
  • a two days trip to observe the whales during the period they are present in the lagoon, generaly from June to end September.
  • a trip at night on the Yate's lake

Contact:   telephone: +687 - 26 27 48   aventure@canl.nc Web: www.aventure-pulsion.nc 

The House of Lagoon: a local association which can recommend a large network of selected operators for all kind of sea activities. Each company has been selected and you are sure that all people who escorts customers own a solid knowledge of the country and all have received a certification registered nearby the French administration.

We recommand:

  • to book your whale watching trips through this organism. Whale watching is unique in New Caldonia. It is done with sailing catamarans which are in good shape and which all comply with the sea safety official rules. All boats are working all together and are linked at sea by radio. When one observes a whale he gives information to others. They also promote small power boats but we clearly recommend to book on a Sailing catamaran for following reasons: the boat is more stable and you have much more square meters ! An other reason is that skipper / owners of that kind of boat are not only people handling a certification but most of the time good sailermen doing their activity with passion.

  • Apnea or snorkeling trips. Two companies are professionnal: Pierre Crubillé who is one of the best worldwide freediver but also certified for tank diving and the company Aquananaturestarting its dayly snorkeling trips to the reef from Noumea's harbor. see the detailed activity later on this website.

Contact: Tel: +687 - 27 27 27   Web: www.maisondulagon.nc