An intoxicating blend of Melanesian and French traditions, New Caledonia is an overseas territory in the Western Pacific Ocean in the section termed the Coral Sea, just east of Australia and west of Vanatu. The territory consists of the main island of Grande Terre, with its barrier reef off the coast the second largest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef, and the archipelago known as the Loyalty Islands. In addition, there are a variety of smaller, sparsely populated islands mingling in here and there.
While an overseas territory, with a decidedly French take on things, the elections in 2014 will offer the opportunity for people to vote on independence, something that has been weighing heavily on the minds of residents for some time now. However, there is no political dissent between the islands and their French rulers. Interestingly enough, New Caledonia is home to roughly 25% of the world’s known nickel deposits, which has traditionally been the principal source of their exportation, although in recent years the demand for nickel has dropped considerably, which means the island territory has been promoting its tourism as an alternate source of income.
There is plenty to see and do in New Caledonia. Beaches, mountains, snorkeling, diving, hiking, colonial architecture, and amazing food, there’s something for everyone to experience in this West Pacific destination. From the rugged mountains of Grand Terre to the turquoise lagoons and white sandy beaches of Ile des Pins with the caves, fish, turtles, dolphins, and otherwise, New Caledonia offers a unique glimpse at life on what—f r all intents and purposes—could be considered a deserted series of islands, at least in some parts. It’s very easy to escape the world while on New Caledonia. Some of the islands are so remote and untouched—and in some cases unpopulated—that you could literally lose yourself for days or weeks at a time while enjoying the bliss of the Western Pacific.