The South Pacific Island Nation of New Caledonia was our first stop after leaving Sydney, Australia for the second time. Located about 750 miles to the northeast, we arrived after 2 days of sailing with Holland America.
New Caledonia is a French territory with a population of about 278,000 people mostly situated on the main island of Grande Terre, which the British explorer James Cook sighted in 1774 naming it “New Caledonia” with “Caledonia” being a Latin name for part of northern Scotland (thanks Wikipedia for that info).
Our first stop was the city of Nouméa on the island of New Caledonia. The next day, we visited the Loyalty Island of Lifou and Maré the following day.
The day spent in Nouméa allowed us to walk around this wonderful city taking in the local sights and flavors. A simple walk through a local grocery store was like heaven with the smells coming from the fresh produce areas.
About 75% of the entire population of New Caledonia lives in Nouméa but it did not feel too crowded or crazy. The city is a unique mix of French and Melanesian culture from its architecture to its food and celebrations.
Fun Fact: During World War II, Nouméa served as the United States Military headquarters in the South Pacific.
Our next stop was to Lifou Island, and our destination of choice was the beach and the water. This was also our destination the following day on Maré Island.
Both islands are part of the Loyalty Islands belonging to New Caledonia. These islands are coral atolls rising up from the South Pacific and as such have stunning lagoons for snorkeling.
And Maré Island did not disappoint as we were able to get some great snorkeling in during our stay. The weather cleared making for a spectacular day!
Au revoir, New Caledonia — until we meet again! Our next stop… Vanuatu (CLICK HERE)