12 nautical miles west of Noumea there is a pontoon with underwater viewing ports and a swimming platform anchored on the inner edge of New Caledonia's Barrier Reef. The water is marvellously clear. 5 meters from the edge of the pontoon is a huge patch reef rich in living corals and alive with friendly tropical fish.
What a pleasure to find fish that follow you around and smile when you point the camera at them. Everywhere else, where human predators lurk, even the smallest fish vanish the second you turn to look at them. At the pontoon, as at the Marine Reserves at l'Escapade Island Resort, Ile aux Canards and Amedee Island, thousands of visitors have made friends with the fish so when a snorkeller flops into the water the fish either ignore them or come over to smile, do some friendly little dancing and comic poses for the camera.
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.