Sailing around New Caledonia is an incredible voyage. Mountains plunge into the sea, the nature is wild, and the trade winds will challenge your skill.
The eastern coastline up to the town of Thio is the renowned “Forgotten Coast” ( La Côte Oubliée). If you are an experienced sailor you need to one day venture up this coast, it is breathtaking.
Prevalent SE trade winds suggest it’s a good idea to cruise north along the east coast, pushed by the winds, and travel south, sheltered from the Trades along the west coast. Make sure you choose a calm day to sail the north or be feeling very adventurous!
From village to town
The historical village of Thio is the largest township in New Caledonia. It sits along the east coast. The town is separated into two parts by the Thio river. Thio Village is the centre of town with shops, schools and government buildings. On the other side, Thio Mission is where the original Catholic Mission still stands. The nickel warehouse is also on this side of the river, together with both the old and new marine ports.
Nickel has been a significant part of the town’s development. A Frenchman named Jules Garnier discovered the mineral here in 1875. Consequently, he founded the Garnierite mining industry. From then on, Thio became a prosperous commune offering excellent hotels, horse-racing courses and amenities. In the 1930s, even the capital city of Nouméa could not compete with Thio as a thriving town. Mining continues, however, there is a marked decline in nickel demand in recent years.
Thus, Thio has moved with the times and developed into a favourite holiday spot for local tourists. Not just a tropical island with palm-fronded beaches, it also offered an industrial history – showcased in the Mining Museum and Plateau mine tours.
Tourists also visit to catch a glimpse of the traditions of the indigenous natives. Thio’s local population is made up of thirteen diverse tribes and visitors are welcome here. Although the local tongue here is Xaracuu, you will also find that the locals speak many other languages too.
Natural beauty encircles the town with lush vegetation on the land and vibrant blue ocean off its coast. Sailing around this area is pure joy. The marine life is abundant; the sailing conditions are favourable – you can find some of the best causing areas in the world in this region.