My family is back from a short holiday. We went to New Caledonia for the New Year. It is the closest tropical place from New Zealand, only 2.5 hours flight.
We stayed at the Coral Palms Island Resort (Google Maps link) which is located on a small island about 5km from Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia.
I must say the accommodation and the setting is great. It is a nature reserve and wildlife is everywhere. From the walkways over the water and while snorkeling we saw no less than 50 different types of fish, a shark, stingrays and lots of sea snakes. A family of four sea snakes lived just next to the entrance to our bungalow, thankfully they were pretty shy. There were many birds, including some duck-type birds who were actively seeking mates during the night and making horror-movie sounds.
As you can see the little island is only about 50m wide in its narrow part and about 800m long.
This is the room where we stayed and the view from the room.
You could step from the room out onto the beach right away, but watch out for snakes. Although in the end we almost learned from the locals to largely ignore them.
When looking at the place from Google Earth I couldn’t stop thinking the place would be nice for kitesurfing and took my new Waroo kite with me. The place turned out to be GREAT for kitesurfing.
There is plenty of space and it works almost at any tide. For some reason, the tide is not too big here. It seems to be knee-deep at low tide and waist deep at high tide. The bottom is patches of sand mixed with patches of grass. There are no sharp corals or rocks, but booties are good to have anyway.
There were heaps of kitesurfers coming by boats from Noumea just to this place. We had over 30 kites in the air at times. The place to launch is somewhat limited, but it is flat and works well and there is no shortage of place on the water.
The wind was onshore all the time, 17-23knots, all day throughout. It was a bit lighter in the morning, but very constant afterwards. One could kitesurf all day. I went out every day I was there. Waroo 07 turned out to be a great kite and I advanced heaps. I spent two summers before with a Naish Boxer only to learn how to get going with reasonable success. This time in the span of 3 days I managed to learn to go upwind, retrieve the board upwind, gybe heel first and toe first and had success with some simple jumps!
Other kitesurfers were mostly lighter (French) people and used 7-10m kites. Only a few were 12m. I had only 13m kite with me and it was the biggest kite on the beach, yet being Waroo 07 it worked so great.
No, this is not me. I don’t jump that well yet. Noumea is in the background.
On the way back home we spent one day in Noumea. For one friend of ours, Noumea was the dream place she wished to lieve in given an opportunity to choose any place on Earth, so we approached the city with an expectation it will be very cute and nice place to live in so maybe we could consider retiring there. But sadly the expectations didn’t hold.
To my taste it is too dirty. Dog ***, bottles, broken glass, cans etc quite or lot of it even on the famous Anse Vata beach. There are only 3 reasonable beaches in the city, yet the busy roads are very close and the grass area is too small.
Well, maybe I’m too harsh. But I’m comparing with Auckland, it is 5th ranking city after all on the quality of living survey. The list must be pretty right then, although I don’t see moving myself to Zurich anytime soon!
The State of Confusion
It is all in the heat. It melts down your mind and body. Initially you notice the difference between you and locals. After several days you slow down yourself and don’t care anymore. Here are a few funny things that we noticed while we were “alive”.
Our bungalow had about 10 light switches and they all were wired using some “fuzzy” logic that we never fully understood. It was very hard to turn on the ceiling fan - it only worked when a very specific combination of light switches was on - it required all three of us working hard in every corner of the room simultenaously.
A wending machine at the airport had the usual Coca-Cola, 7Up etc cans on display. But after dropping the coins and pushing the button - you always got something else - not what you wanted. All lines in the wending machine were mixed up.
A popular T-shirt in New Caledonia reads:
_…some business name…
Cash Only and F…k You!_
So, if you a after a great tropical place for nature tourism or water sports - all thumbs up for New Caledonia. But if you expect great service - you might just get total confusion.