New Caledonia has been described as “the land of eternal spring” as it is blessed with a pleasant sub-tropical climate all year around. Higher rainfall is usually expected from January-March and high temperatures start in January and continue to mid-April.
The average temperatures reach around 22-26°C and the high temperatures can reach up to 29°C. The water temperature in the wet season is an average of 24-27°C. The most popular times to visit New Caledonia are from September to December due to mild temperatures, low rainfall and limited humidity.
The tropical lagoons and coral reefs of New Caledonia are an outstanding example of high diversity coral reef ecosystems and form one of the three most extensive reef systems in the world. They are the location for the world’s most diverse concentration of reef structures, with an exceptional diversity of coral and fish species and a wide range of reef forms, extending over important oceanic gradients. New Caledonia is proud to protect its incredible seascapes, and will also adopt a complete ban of single-use plastic products on the territory from June 2019.
Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre
This amazing building was designed by the renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano. It has become a true cultural centre for the Pacific Islands and a great number of displays of Melanesian and Polynesian art are open to the public. The innovative architecture makes this a “must” to see.
Just a stroll around Noumea is enough to make your mouth water - buttery pastries, creperies, hand-made chocolates crafted by expert chocolatiers and gourmet stores where visitors can stock up on pates, terrines, foie gras, duck cassoulets and gooey cheeses. Wine lovers can delight their senses with a large selection of some of the best French wines available in Nouméa and gourmet French culinary products. For fishing enthusiasts, New Caledonia provides the best opportunities to catch a variety of fish (pelagic and reef species) for your Chef to prepare in time for dinner.
Ile Ouen & Mato
Guests will be arriving via an international flight into Noumea. Port du Sud is a 45 min car transfer from the terminal. Waking up at the renowned Hotel Chateau Royal, we invite you to a relaxing spa treatment at the Aqua Royale which is located inside this world class hotel.
Prior to boarding, why not take to the air and set the scene for your next 7 days in New Caledonia. A helicopter flight will provide some sensational views over the lagoon and the multiple colours under the sun. This afternoon we will cruise to the South towards Ile Ouen and Mato. The stunning hike to the top of Mato will reveal a panoramic view of the islands!
If you are eager to step on board and start exploring the lagoon, your Captain suggests to cruise early towards the “5 Islands”: these are 5 small islands situated between Ilot Eroue and Ilot Kouare and the site is absolutely superb. Continuing on to Ile Ouen, Baie de la Tortue (Turtle Bay) is ideal for an introductory snorkel off the beach or adjacent reef. This is a perfect place to spot a loggerhead turtle as it is a popular feeding spot for the turtles. If turtles are feeling friendly, they will even swim through the crystal clear waters with you! Plants grow only sparsely on Ile Ouen.
The abandoned jade mine is part of New Caledonia’s history and can be seen from the beach. The island itself is home to two villages and will be ours for the night too - we anchor here for the evening after a delicious dinner on board.
Baie de Kuto
After breakfast, we will make our way to Isle of Pines. Deserted beaches, wild coasts, pristine blue water, the Isle of Pines is a paradise in the Pacific. Dominated by the peak Nga (262 meters altitude), Isle of Pines emerges from the superb lagoon, with waters so blue it hurts the eyes.
Later in the evening we'll anchor in the magnificent Kuto Bay, one of Caledonia’s most beautiful bays. Here you can have lunch in one of the local restaurants: indulge in freshly caught seafood in this charming and intimate bay.
After lunch, our dedicated guide, Ivar, will join us for a private tour of the island: Queen Hortence grotto, ruins, Vao Village and the most exclusive scenic views! Back on board, it is time to relax with sunset cocktails and canapes admiring the changing of colours in your new surroundings.
This morning, our guide will meet us on board, to discover the natural reserve of Nokanhui. This atoll is one of a kind, with sand so white you can only look at it through sunglasses and water ranging from cobalt to turquoise and every shade in between. To access Nokanhui, our guide will have requested the authorisation to the local tribe. For lunch, we will cruise to Moro Islet for a barbeque feast of seafood, fresh lobster and other local fish.
After lunch, guests can rest and enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the surroundings, or engage in more active watersports sessions.
Once the energy is spent playing in the crystal-clear waters, there is a unique opportunity for a traditional New-Caledonian dinner: Bougna is the traditional Melanesian dish and it’s definitely worth a try. Bougna is a combination of chicken, lobster or fish with yams, bananas, sweet potatoes and coconut milk wrapped in banana leaves. The food is then steamed in an earth oven heated by hot stones. Bougna is served with a variety of other dishes, including seafood, coconut milk and tropical fruit.
Wake up to the sound of water against the hull, and a hearty breakfast on the shaded sundeck. After your morning swim, sail on a traditional dugout kayak around Upi Bay and St Joseph: approximately 2 hours of smooth sailing, drifting with the wind on these smooth turquoise waters. Turtles, dolphins, reef sharks and stingrays may come to your encounter.
Upon disembarking from this travel back in time, cross the tropical forest to find La Piscine Naturelle, a pool of exquisite turquoise water sheltered behind the reef (45 minutes walk in exquisite landscapes). The secluded spring is part of a waterway which leads from the open sea to Baie d'Oro. Your superyacht and Captain will be waiting for you on the other side in Baie d’Oro.
Lunch is possible at the Meridien Hotel, La Pirogue, which also provides you access to the Spa. A refined French/Melanesian menu includes the bougna, and will be enjoyed outdoors or around the sleek, open-air bar. After this memorable experience, the Captain will make his way to Gadji Bay for our anchorage.
After breakfast, our guide will meet us on board to go on a diving tour this morning. There are numerous diving locations along the reef offering a constantly changing panorama of drop-offs, corridors, passages and sea grottos. There are over 15 dive sites, all around the breathtaking Gadji Bay. The more experienced divers can venture down to the mysterious freshwater underground caves known as “Grotte de la Troisième”, which can only be reached by a narrow underwater corridor. Night dives in Isle of Pines are renowned for its mysterious atmosphere, with the sea snakes and loggerhead turtles. Other sites of interest include Kasmira reef, Faille de Noupoa, Garden of Eden, or Passe de Gie.
For the non-divers on board, Gadji Bay features a beautiful vanilla plantation cared by her Owner, Nicole. After a beautiful lunch on board, and a rest after your dive, you will have the opportunity to enjoy watersports such as kayaking, paddle boarding or more active pursuits.
We then watch the sun setting and reflect on stunning memories, before dinner is served on the sundeck.
Baie du Carenage
From our anchorage we will make our way to the expansive Baie de Prony on the New Caledonian mainland. This area is renowned for its plentiful waterfalls. The southern end of New Caledonia is famous for its mineral-rich red soil, which contrasts brilliantly against the deep green cover of the pines. The sandy beaches are fringed with coral reefs and littered with the colourful shells for which Prony Bay is famously known for. The adjacent land is a nature reserve, with well-marked tracks around the shoreline and up to the Cap N Dua lighthouse, from where you can view the entire cruising area out to Isle of Pines. Going for a walk to the lighthouse will give us a good chance to spot the humpback whales: from mid-July to mid-September every year, the gracious mammals travel from Antarctica to New Caledonia to breed and give birth.
As we venture further into Prony Bay, it splits onto two arms. On the starboard side past Ilot Casey is GrandNord, famous with divers for Recife de l'Aiguille (Prony Needle), with its pinnacle that extends 35m from the sea. On the port side is Ilot floor Rade du Nord, with an interesting river at its head that can be navigated by dinghy past the ruins of a colonial prison. As we navigate into the upper reaches at Baie du Carenage, the water takes on a reddish tinge and the high wooded hills close in. This area is also national parkland, and there are many walks and interesting places to explore from the tender here.
Amedee & Boulari
After a busy day of exploring on Day Six, we will rest overnight in Baie du Carenage and make our way smoothly towards Phare Amedee or Ile d’Ouen, depending on the weather. At 56 metres tall (247 steps), Amedee is one of the tallest lighthouses in the world and it was the first metallic lighthouse constructed in France. Its light signals the entrance to the Passe de Boulari, one of only three natural passages in the reef surrounding New Caledonia. On the other side of the world, the Roches-Douvres Light in the English Channel is the twin brother of the Amédée lighthouse.
After an onshore stroll, diving enthusiasts can explore the Passe de Boulari, famous for shipwreck exploration: The Dieppoise at the Amédée Lighthouse, the Humboldt near the Dumbéa channel, or the Arrogant at Boulari. The site is also renowned for its manta rays, which regularly feed in the pass, for its schools of grey sharks, white-tipped reef sharks and pelagic species which are often spotted. It is also possible to organise a very special sunset session at the top of Phare Amédée tonight, thanks to Claude, the guardian. Choose to spend one last night in the lagoon, or return slowly towards Noumea. In the morning, we can take the opportunity to explore some more of the inland culture that New Caledonia has to offer such as a visit to Tjibaou Culture Centre.