The Loyalty Islands (French: Îles Loyauté) are an archipelago in the South West Pacific. They are part of the French territory of New Caledonia, whose mainland is 100 km (62 mi) away. They form the Loyalty Islands Province (province des îles Loyauté), one of the three provinces of New Caledonia.
The Loyalty Islands has three main islands, Lifou, Maré and Ouvéa, each with it's own special personality. Lifou is the largest island - larger than Tahiti - but inhabited by only about 10,000 Melanesian and Polynesian people. Maré is the smallest island - only half the size of Lifou - with about 7,000 people. Both Lifou and Maré are uplifted coral atolls with rugged coastlines of cliffs and lovely white sand beaches. Ouvéa is also an atoll but it is tilted to one side so the eastern edge is uplifted into one long island with a spectacular 26 km white sand beach on the lagoon side.
All three islands maintain strong cultural bonds and the Loyalty Islands are one of the few places in the South Pacific where visitors can still find the traditional Melanesian thatched homes in perfect condition and in daily use. As part of French New Caledonia the islands enjoy excellent roads, schools, and medical facilities. Everyone speaks perfect French and also their own local language.
Air Caledonie provides daily flights to and from Noumea - about 40 minutes each way - so many international visitors book a day tour of one of the islands, fly over in the morning, tour the island by mini-bus, and fly back in the evening. Each island has at least one comfortable hotel and several gites. Visitior can also stay in one of the traditional styled thatched buildings in a village - called a "tribal stay".
The scenery is spectacular and there are island tours and local guides offering excellent nature and cultural walks.
Destination Iles Loyaute is the official tourism representative for the Loyalty Islands and supplies travel representatives and travellers with maps, brochures and images of the Loyalty Islands.