If you like to dream about cruising around the atolls of the South Pacific, Nouméa is a great place to begin. In under 3 hours flying time from Australia, your dream can start to come true.
New Caledonia is well worth visiting as a charter destination. An expanse of coral reef and exhilarating trade winds are ideal for adventurous yachtsmen (and women). Hiring a local skipper will allow you to discover secret snorkelling and sailing spots while you relax and enjoy the view.
Sailing from Nouméa
Yacht Charters usually start from Nouméa Harbour and Port de Sud Marina. Before you even start out towards other islands, you have the main island’s enormous lagoon, an area of over 24,000 km2 and encircled by a reef. The whole area offers some of the most exciting sailing, snorkelling, and diving you can find anywhere. Steady trade winds blow from the south-east for most of the year. The best months for sailing from Nouméa are October/November and May/June. Winds tend to be less forceful from December to May.
Diving here is highly recommended. Let the charter company know if you would like this so that they can organise equipment to be on your boat ready for you. If snorkelling is your thing, head for Îlot Maître. This is a tiny island in the lagoon of Nouméa which is a nature reserve. There is also luxurious accommodation on the island if you really want to push the boat out!
French Overseas Territory
Nouméa is the capital of New Caledonia -the second largest island in the South Pacific after New Zealand. This French Overseas Territory is made up of islands including the main island, the Loyalty Islands, The Isle of Pines and numerous other tiny islands. Even though this is French Territory, the “Nouméa Accord” of 1988 granted the Kanak many rights over their governance.
The people here are a cultural mix of 43% native Kanaks and 67% Melanesians, Polynesians, French, other Europeans and Asians. Surprisingly, Just 245,000 people live in the entire region.
Tourism is vital to the region. Therefore many of the local people speak both their native Kanak tongue as well as French and other languages, including English. It never hurts to try to pick up a few words in Kanak while you are there – words open doors! For example, Thank you is “Olaytay”. Additionally, the Kanak people treat their customs and ceremonies with the utmost respect. The exchange of small gifts, to ask the Chieftain for permission to visit specific areas, is just one of the local traditions.