Often described as the ‘St Tropez of the Pacific’, the French controlled territory of New Caledonia combines a wonderful Pacific climate with European inspired culture and heritage.
An easy-going city spread out over a large peninsula, Noumea – New Caledonia's capital – is surrounded by pretty bays and lagoons, and offers something to please every visitor. There are some excellent museums, including the City Museum, the National Museum of New Caledonia – which has a fine collection of Melanesian and Kanak artefacts – the Geological Museum and the Maritime History Museum. The latter celebrates three millennia of seafaring, and includes displays of finds from ships wrecked on the coral reefs. Also of interest is the National Aquarium, with stunning displays of tropical fish, as well as live coral.
A World Heritage Site since 2008, the Caledonian lagoon is a gem to preserve. The New Caledonian barrier reef is located within the lagoon and is the second-longest double-barrier coral reef in the world. The tropical lagoons and coral reefs of New Caledonia are an outstanding example of high diversity coral reef ecosystems and form one of the three most extensive reef systems in the world. They contain diverse reefs of varying age from living reefs to ancient fossil reefs, providing an important source of information on the natural history of Oceania.
The Kanak are the indigenous Melanesian inhabitants of New Caledonia and make up around 40% of the islands population today. The Kanaks believe that the body takes the category of the vegetable body. They see it as an inseparable part of the universe, which covers and interweaves its existence with trees, fruits and plants etc. The essential spirit of the Kanak culture is enshrined in the ancestral rules and rituals of the Kanak customary tradition.