New Caledonia - Part 1
In September this year I was privileged to have the opportunity to return to New Caledonia for my third visit.
I was not disappointed as New Caledonia was everything I remembered it to be; a real tropical paradise with postcard-like beaches, fun in the sun, friendly locals & amazing sunsets.
Located in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, New Caledonia, 1700km west of New Zealand, just above the Tropic of Capricorn, is a diverse and unique destination. From stepping onto the tarmac and feeling the warm air, to the delicious eclectic food we sampled.... this is indeed a destination to experience. With only three nights and two days, I had a lot of sampling to get through.
Le Meridien Noumea
It took just over 45 minutes to get from Tontouta Airport to our accommodation at Le Meridien Noumea, located at beautiful Anse Vata Bay, one of the two most popular tourist beaches (the other being Lemon Bay). Anse Vata Bay has a huge diversity of accommodation, ranging from five-star international lodging to hostels, and eating places to suit all budgets. The cuisine we sampled was French, Asian & Oceanic, which really reflected New Caledonia’s mixed population, and all within walking distance of the Resort.
In a local restaurant we discovered "brousse specialties (bush cuisine), consisting of deer, shrimp, coconut, crab or wild hog and fruit salad.
The Le Meridien Resort Noumea has four restaurants, including seafood, French, Japanese and an outdoor bbq/grill area where the decking ext ends out over the beach. It was here we enjoyed one of the many tropical cocktails they offer while watching the sun set. The Le Meridien has recently started a cycling/cooking tour where you get to cycle to the local market with the chef, choose some ingredients, then return to the hotel and participate in a cooking class, learning all the chef's secrets, in order to be initiated into the codes of French cuisine. This tour can be booked at the Tour desk in the Resort. The Resort also holds monthly exhibitions showcasing local artists or works, allowing them to educate locals and tourists about New Caledonia’s Kanak heritage & culture.
Kanak heritage & culture
The term "Kanak" is used to designate native residents of this South Pacific archipelago and their culture. The Kanak culture developed in this South Pacific archipelago over a period of 3000 years and the Kanaks occupy the Loyalty Islands entirely. Those on Grande Terre (mainland) live on the northern half of the island in territories demarcated in the nineteenth century as "indigent reserves." Further south, Kanaks are less numerous, although 30 percent of them live near the capital, Noumea.
L’aquarium des lagons
Within walking distance from Anse Vata Bay is the L’aquarium des lagons (the aquarium of the lagoon). This really is one the most magical places in Noumea. We admired and marvelled at some of the treasures that populate the lagoon: the living fossils Nautilus, phosphorescent corals, wrasses, and sharks.