The New Caledonia Lagoon is the largest coral reef lagoon on the planet. The more remote parts of the lagoon are still listed on the charts as "unsurveyed" but people (like Freddy and I) do sometimes venture into their labyrinth of coral reefs and islets to seek out lovely wilderness areas - hopefully filled with sea birds, thriving coral reefs with shoals of colorful fish. Our cruising guide to New Caledonia lists just about every practical anchorage but we had not explored the uncharted waters of the most southern part of the Great Southern Lagoon. So we sailed all the way down to the most southerly tip of the New Caledonia lagoon, 52 nautical miles southeast of Noumea. The southernmost part of the barrier reef is generally called "le Coude" ( French for the elbow) because it ends in a sharp, V-shaped reef.
The water here is crystal clear and the anchorage well protected. As soon as we arrived we anchored in the vast shallow sand area behind the barrier reef and sent up the kite to take this aerial sphere image so you can admire the magnificent blue colors of the lagoon.
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.