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The wonderful French lighthouse that you see in this image was built in Paris in 1862 and has guided ships through the barrier reef since the 18th of November 1865. You can follow the arrows and scroll down to see other sphere images of the lighthouse and of the magnificent marine life that inhabits this marine reserve. You can also pack your swimming gear and visit this wonderful little island, where the weather is always nicer.
The Mary D bus in Noumea has two of my sphere images spread out along each side - 10 meter panoramic views of Ilot Amedee with the Mary D motto, "The weather is always nicer at Ilot Amedee." The bus delivers people from their hotels to the Mary D, a big, high speed passenger boat that makes the one hour trip to Ilot Amedee with up to 200 happy day trippers who are dreaming of white sand beaches, crystal clear water, beautiful coral reefs under a glass bottomed boat, climbing up the astonishing light house to see the whole island, and then pigging out on a all-you-can-eat gourmet BBQ complete with Tahitian dancing as a sweet and spicy desert.
The claim that the weather is always nicer at Ilot Amedee happens to be true - at least most of the time. In this sphere image you can clearly see Noumea under a big wet afternoon storm cloud while the guests of the Mary D are happily toasting in the high glare of the white beach and peering into the sunlit waters from the glass bottom boat. Sometimes the reason for the weather being nicer at Ilot Amedee is easy to understand. During the summer months, giant clouds build up over the mountains of New Caledonia and bulge out to the coastline laden with all that heavy moisture from the forests. So Noumea sometimes get an afternoon summer deluge but the clouds don't make the 10 mile trip over the lagoon to rinse the day trippers on Ilot Amedee. But during the rest of the year you really can't explain why the weather is better there - it can be raining elsewhere in the great southern lagoon, in Noumea and on the reefs further north - but nice at Ilot Amedee. It's as if there is a kind of pleasant vortex around this part of the lagoon, created by the combination of trade winds and mountains, that keeps the sun and the tourists smiling.
For information on how to get your self to Ilot Amedee download or order a Rocket Guide to New Caledonia.
New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.