Avocado Festival - "Fete de l'Avocat" at Nece (pronounced Netchay) on Mare Island in the Loyalty Islands attracts lots of visitors from overseas and from Noumea.
The people of the village organize treks through the forests and sea coasts of Mare. The Asicen Forest Walk is a two to three hour reasonably easy and level trek that follows an ancient hunting path. On one side of the path there is a cliff - part of an ancient coral reef, with the occassional cave. On the other side of the path is the forest of Mare's central plateau. The guide, Pen Jo'on, from the Tribu de Nece, tells stories about the plants and the caves and of the spirts that live in the forest. He points out enormous natural bee hives hanging from the cliffs and tells how people used to harvest the honey (they don't do it anymore because it's much easier to use sugar).
The walks are fun and challenging and, as Pen Jo'on says, it is more than a tourist activity, it is an oportunity to find out more about their culture and lives on this little island in the south Pacific.
You can get the latest information on the festivals of the Loyalty Islands from the official Destination Loyalty Islands Tourism website
For general information about travel to New Caledonia and tourism in the Loyalty islands check out the Rocket Guide to New Caledonia.
Mare Island is the southernmost of the four Loyalty Islands in New Caledonia. It is an uplifted coral atoll with jagged cliffs on the southern shores 130 metres high. The center of the island, the ancient lagoon, is flat and there are several caves and sink-holes - some with salt water and others with fresh water. Air Caledonie offers two flights a day to Mare - a 40 minute flight. There is also a 3.5 hour high speed ocean going catamaran Betico II. There is just one Mare hotel, the Nengone Village Hotel, one Gite, two tribal stays, and one camping ground. The primary attraction for visitors are the wilderness walks, the snorkelling, the lovely beaches, and the festivals. There is no public transport on Mare but there are small tour buses, taxis, and rental car agencies. The island is small enough that you can also rent a bicycle and visit many of the main tourism destinations. As in all the Loyalty Islands the people speak their own local Melanesian language plus French.