Merci Becoup New Caledonia Tourism – for a jam packed week exploring your neighbouring islands and French Culture.
We based ourselves in Noumea for our 4 days – at the Hilton. It’s a basic hotel, with everything you need across the road from the beach and close to restaurants. If we were to go back – we would definitely base ourselves on one of the islands – the water is insane and the beaches empty for dayz – just the way we like it.
Our first day – we caught a very short ferry ride about 15 minutes from our hotel to a neighbouring island and spent the day at Escapade Island Resort. We swam in the blue of the sea, had a buffet lunch (the French are big on Buffets) and swam in the pool of the Hotel. It’s very laid back, rustic and quiet. That’s the thing about New Caledonia – is it’s quiet, basic and simple.
Day 2 was the highlight of our trip. We jumped on a short flight to a neighbouring island called OUVEA. We arrived to a small airport bustling with locals in local dress – imagine mummas and head wraps and flowing floral dresses also known as the Kanak people of New Caledonia. One such local was there waiting to rent us our car. On landing on our little island paradise you could see the blue of the sea was amazing – but as we started our journey around the island to Mouli Bridge – and spotted the white sandy beaches, palm trees and sea, it was almost too good to be true.
A short 20 minute drive we arrived at Paradis d’Ouvea Hotel – there were a few people scattered around the hotel, but you barely noticed over the iridescent blue of the sea and the long stretch of sandy beach, without a sole on it. It was about 11am and it was slow, quiet and calm – well until the Tan family arrived (being Jet and Spike, the parents are quiet)! Moments later, clothes were off and we rushed towards the ocean and spent the rest of the day in it, beside it, and under it’s blanket of blue. You retreat to the palm trees for refuge from the sun and our spot for lunch was as close to the sand as we could get.
The beautiful thing about Ouvea is of course the sea and the landscape – but it’s the quiet, it’s the untouched rawness of the clean pristine beaches and the isolation of not many people but a few locals fishing. It’s the local Kanak huts, it’s the kids crossing the road to the beach from their local schools – waving as we drove by. One Short day was not enough here!
Our final day was spent in the hiking and kayaking in the Blue River Parc with Toutazimut. This was a beautiful way to see the diversity of New Caledonia – red dirt – rich in minerals and the source of New Caledonia’s nickel rich industry. It’s a dramatic back drop and on our tour we saw many families biking through the national park – probably the best way to see it. We kayaked through a sunken forest – ate a picnic lunch, hunted for the Rhynochetos Jubatus bird and as a family, all agreed there’s nothing quite like being in nature.
We moved fast and saw a lot in 4 days, mostly to show you the diversity of New Caledonia, but when planning your trip, take your time, relax, go slow. I’m personally still dreaming about the blue of the water in Ouvea. Could be the ‘best beach ever’ – quote from Jet and Spike Tan (minus the waves).
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Words: Debbie Tan
Photographer: Eugene Tan