New Caledonia is definitely a place I had never even thought of visiting but am now certainly glad that I have been to this secret part of the world. New Caledonia is a former French colony that is a cluster of islands in what is known as the Coral Sea containing a very large coral reef. View of island of Lifou in New Caledonia Our first stop was a visit to the tiny "town" of Easo on the island of Lifou. History states that Catholic missionaries landed at Easo in April 1858 and the name is derived from the local Drehu language in which "easo" means "smoking fire" - a reference to the whaling tradition of lighting fires to melt fat down to make oil. The missionaries built the little chapel "Notre-Dame de Lourdes" on a lookout point and there are great panorama views of Llifou and the surrounding islands from there. In addition, there is another old church and adjoining cemetery, and of course lots of lush palms and flowers throughout the island.
The next place we stopped was indeed the most idyllic paradise I've ever been too, without exception. Ile de Pines (Island of Pines) is a tiny island that has the most incredible beaches and waters that I've ever seen anywhere. The island has the usual tropical palms and lush vegetation but it also has countless tall pine trees which were originally brought and planted there by James Cook.
View of a beach on beautiful Ile de Pines ("Island of Pines"), New Caledonia The trees were planted as a resource should future expeditions run into foul weather or other issues and require repairs to masts -- tall straight timber being in short supply in the tropics. Today, these pine trees stand out as unique guardians over the beautiful beaches of this island paradise. I would not mind being deserted on Ile de Pines for a while!
Following the relaxing swimming and tanning on Ile de Pines, the next stop was to the New Caledonia capital of Noumea.
Local women in Place des Cocotiers "Coconut Tree Square" in central Noumea
Noumea is the heart of New Caledonia and it seemed strange to be speaking French here in the south Pacific. It is located on the largest of the country's islands, Grand Terre and is a mix of French culture and tropical beaches. There is of course the government and business side of New Caledonia here but it is also hub for aquatic and nature tourism throughout New Caledonia. Again, the residents were incredibly friendly and the food was delicious!
New Caledonia photos are in the "2019 - SOUTH PACIFIC" collection on this website -- and stay tuned and look for the blog and photos from Australia and New Zealand soon!