New Caledonia is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its lagoons featuring on the UNESCO World Heritage List – which recognises and protects the exceptional biodiversity and ecosystems that envelop this island nation. But few Australians realise how easily accessible this environmental wonder is, with flights under three hours making New Caledonia our closest east coast neighbour!
You would be hard pressed to walk away from a day out on the lagoon and not be left in awe. From the postcard-blue waters that provide crystal clear visibility to the stunning coral displays teeming with aquatic life, you will pinch yourself to check that it’s not a dream.
To make things extra special, the reef system, which is the second largest on the planet, also features a rare double-barrier reef. You don’t need to be a certified diver to enjoy the underwater displays as there are many sites accessible to snorkellers, suitable for kids and adults alike.
The Lagoon is also a major nesting site for many turtle species like Loggerhead, Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles, as well as hosting the third largest population of dugongs. Underwater you can see a rainbow of reef fish, cuttlefish, squid, dolphins, reef sharks, and giant corals. Whales also call the lagoon home as they escape the Antarctic winter waters between July and September.
You don’t need to get wet to witness the best of the lagoon, as the view from above reveals the sheer scale and dazzling beauty of the ocean bed.
Alongside the lagoon, you can experience the beautiful blend of Melanesian and French culture, amazing food from locally sourced seafood and beef, through to fine imported French wine and cheese, and varied landscapes of dense green forests to red-earthed mountains.
In under three hours, you could be snorkelling, diving, sailing, paddle boarding or simply relaxing in this Pacific French paradise.