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Just ten miles west of Noumea, Presque Ile Maa creates a lovely sheltered bay with sand beaches, rocky coasts, and a broad area of sandy bottom in depths of 2 to 8 metres. On weekends many boat owners from Noumea spend a night or two in the sheltered cove having BBQs with their friends, swimming off the beach, or towing the kids back and forth on waterskis or floats. But during the week there are few - if any - boats anchored here and the nights are calm and quiet. In the early morning deer and sheep walk the beach and herons search for crabs and fish along the tideline. Freddy and I love Baie Maa and have returned to anchor here many times since we first sailed to New Caledonia in 1981. As we say in our cruising guide to New Caledonia, the family that owns the Peninsula really appreciates it when people who visit the bay respect the plant and animal life that makes this such an enchanting environment and also take all their litter back to Noumea when they leave.
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.