New Caledonia is one of the best cruising grounds in the South Pacific for sailing yachts. Frederique and I have cruised these waters since 1980 aboard the Research Vessel Moira, visiting and charting over 140 anchorages for our cruising guide to New Caledonia. We visited just about every practical anchorage throughout the vast lagoon and multitude of islands so other cruisers will be able to cruise in safety and plan their New Caledonia cruise with accurate images and information.
In this sphere image, the Moira is approaching Canal Wooden, created by Ile Ouen and the mountainous southwest extremity of Grande Terre. Like all the waterways of New Caledonia, Canal Wooden is deep and free of dangers so long as you stay over 100 metres off the coastline. We were on our way to the islands of the great southern lagoon to see some whales. We did find six humpback whales the next day but although they played and cavorted quite close to the Moira they did not come close enough to get an acceptable sphere image.
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.