Ilot aux Goelands is a tiny lagoon island surrounded by a large shallow reef flat. The island is closed to visitors from November to March - the breeding season of the Rosate tern (Sterna dougallii). The tiny sea bird, known in French as Goéland, is on the Red List for endangered species with an estimated 55,000 breeding pairs in the world. About 4000 nesting couples migrate to New Caledonia each year and build their nests on this tiny island. The female lays one or two (rarely three) eggs in a scooped out hollow of sand on the beach. They plunge dive for fish in the shallows around the island.
The Goelands anchorage is extremely popular on weekends, even when the people are not allowed to go onshore. For details on this and other anchorages in New Caledonia order the Cruising Guide to New Caledonia.
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.