A boat designed for snorkelling cruises with an ecological approach
In order to enable snorkelers to discover the most beautiful sites of the coral reef while reducing their environmental impact, the previous owner, Bernard Andreani, had invested in a boat specially designed for his activity, which is a first in New Caledonia! In some places off the coast, the coral barrier reef is only a few kilometres from the shore whilst in other places, it is around 65 km away, and hence the need for a boat to reach the best sites of the barrier reef. A 10.5 m long and 5.2 m large motor catamaran has thus been designed by the naval architect, Jacques Fiolleau and built by a Caledonian shipyard. Equipped with hydrofoils (wing-like structures mounted on struts below the hull of a boat), this prototype craft has been specially adapted to snorkelling outings, but also in a manner that minimizes its ecological footprint. This ultralight boat (less than 4 tons) has a low motorization (2x140HP) despite its ample transportation capacity (up to 25 divers) and produces a minimum amount of greenhouse gases. Besides showing concern for the environment, the comfort of divers has been specially considered. Passengers have at their disposal toilets, change rooms and showers as well as two LCD screens to enable them to watch information videos on safety aspects and the marine environment.
A team to discover the biodiversity of coral reefs
Aquanature, a structure specialised in snorkelling has been created to face the impact of the UNESCO endorsement. The previous owner had this idea in mind for a while and waited for the market to mature to get started. A pioneer at heart, this diving and apnea instructor who had already created the Amédée Diving Club, the first dive centre in New Caledonian Grande Terre, and the Apnea Club of New Caledonia, which counts the greatest number of members in France! ‘Divers only represent 7% of tourists and given the stagnation of the tourism industry, it was high time to develop new activities in order to attract a different clientele,’ used to say Bernard Andreani. His ultimate goal was to ‘enable everybody to discover the beauties of the seabed of New Caledonia in all safety, with maximum comfort and contentment’. and it is with the same spirit that the new owners have succeeded.
After spending over 10 years in Ouvea where they launched their own scuba diving center, Valerie Villiers and Roberto Allegretti, scuba diving instructors, are since August 2012, the proud new owners of Aquanature. The couple is happy to discover the beautiful coral reefs of the South Lagoon with snorkeling gear only.As Snorkeling Guide within Aquanature, Frédérique Simon joins the team and shares his passion with professionalism and enthusiasm.
A sustainable activity
No detail is left to chance and the snorkellers also benefit from Aqua Lung equipment that is adapted to the activity and to climatic conditions in the region such as a 4mm long-sleeved shorty, 2mm neoprene/titanium lining with hoods, snorkels with integrated valves or even nozzles for children. ‘Snorkelling outings are an activity that provides an excellent return on investment as long as you are fully committed and offer a comprehensive and adapted product offering’, is pointed out.
Since its opening, Aquanature has welcomed on board nearly 5,000 apnea divers and snorkellers, 80% of which were residents. Full-day outings are generally organised and comprise two snorkelling trips at two different sites with a picnic halt in between on one of the islets of the south lagoon reserve. Between the Amédée lighthouse, the Tabou reef, Maître islet, the Dumbea pass or even the Prosperity shipwreck, snorkellers have the opportunity to come across multiple fish species such as shoals of tangs, carangue fish or rocklings and even sea turtles, sharks or rays passing by in less than 10m deep waters.
The Aquanature team is totally genuine in its approach and systematically has recourse to permanent fixed moorings to avoid causing damage to the seabed. It further uses biological cleaning products on board.