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Diving spots New Caledonia Ua Reef
New Caledonia

Sometimes, during the summer months, New Caledonia's SE trades stop completely and it goes absolutely dead flat calm. It does not happen very offen, maybe only a few days a year, and you'd have to be really lucky to be on the water when it happened.

Freddy and I hit the jackpot. Talk about luck. We were at Ilot Mato in the great southern lagoon of New Caledonia this past March when the winds stopped for a whole week. It was exhausting. We spent nearly all day every day racing here and there in our RIB, snorkeling, beach walking, photographing.

Magic, shear magic. When there are no waves or ripples you can zip over the coral reefs and look down and see everything just like there was no water there. It's a chance to check out miles of reefs for those choice super dive spots. When there are even small wind ripples the water is distorted enough that you often can't tell the condition of the coral or what's down there unless you jump in. So it's a treat, a delight, to ride on a mirror sea and watch the brilliant coral fish, rays, turtles, and dolphins playing in their coral wonderland.

I took this sphere image of the fringing coral reef at Ilot Ua to try to give you a sense of what it feels like. Look around and feel the magic.

If you want to visit the Great Southern Lagoon of New Caledonia and try your luck at having a delightful clear calm day, get a copy of the Cruising Guide to New Caledonia and come visit.

Copyright: Richard Chesher
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 12000x6000
Uploaded: 06/04/2011
Updated: 26/05/2014
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Tags: dive spots new caledonia; coral reef; new caledonia lagoon; world heritage site; ua island; fringing coral reef; lagoon island; lagoon islet; snorkeling new caledonia; underwater; diving; snorkeling; dive
  • Frank Taylor almost 2 years ago
    I really love this shot Richard! I remember snorkeling in this exact same spot when we visited there in 2011. I will never forget hanging out and snorkeling with you and Freddie at Ilot Mato, and doing underwater photography. You guys are great!
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    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.