Grand Terre (Mainland), New Caledonia

After leaving the Loyalty Islands we sailed over to Canala, on the East Coast of Grand Terre, a base for the nickel mining in the area. Canala is in a very picturesque valley with mountains all around. We went by dinghy up the river spotting mines on the way to the town, a great stop to get some much needed groceries and see some local artwork and wood carvings all scattered around town.

we have our Baguettes and Brie; with a view down the river to our anchorage

The whole coastline has some amazing mountain scenery of rich oranges, reds and greens.

perfect anchorage with friends Oceana1 at Neumeni

Great place to get off the boat and go for a walk up into them there hills.

Lunch stop with a view to our next anchorage at Port Boqete

At Port Boqete we stopped at the marine park at Ile Némou for some snorkeling at the reef and along the shoreline around the anchorage. A lot of soft and hard corals but not many fish. Saw the biggest conque shell, which was still alive and great to see given everyone likes to collect shells.

with Bretts hand to give perspective.

On the shoreline we spotted a brightly colored church so went into the small Kanak village of Lémia, where 80 people live. Houses and the church only. The local store is 20km away.
Necis; a friendly guy with lots of personality, who liked to sing and tell us stories, showed us around the village. There was a well manicured walkway that separated the houses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our final stop on the SE coast was Yaté where we took the dinghy up the river to the hydroelectric plant to find the grocery store for ice cream, beer and wine. Not sure where it goes!

Seas and winds were calm so we decided to head straight to Gadji, in Ile des Pins, (see separate blog entry).

After enjoying the Kuto area in Ile des Pins we had a quick downwind sail to Baie de Prony on the South Coast of the mainland, catching a nice sized tuna along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baie de Prony has lots of anchorages where you could spend time seeing the sights from the many hilltops by hiking the never ending trails here or go kayaking and snorkeling.

a view of Baie de Prony from a hike we did to the lighthouse from Anse Majic anchorage

 

 

 

Up at the lighthouse Brett & Aline are admiring the views out to the lagoon.

 

 

 

Moose is an abandoned dog on Ilot Casey in Prony, who cruisers all seem to hear about. He reminded us an old friend and was very friendly and likes to go hiking with you around the island. A marked trail takes you around the island in about 1.5hrs and has some nice scenery. Moose along the way shows you how he survives on the island digging crabs and eating sea cucumbers! Of course all the cruisers feed him and give him water.

nice anchorage with mooring balls to protect the coral

a view over to the nickel mining operation in the Baie

Snorkeling at Illot Casey had some little gems amongst the mostly white hard antler type coral.

Amadee Island, South of Noumea has a 56m tall lighthouse built in 1862 in France and was disassembled and transported to Noumea for its opening here in 1865. Nice views of the marine park after climbing the 247 steps.

 

 

 

 

Illot Maître is a small island with a resort 3nm south of Noumea and a Mecca for kiteboarding. In the weekends there are upward of 100 kites out. There were lots of turtles floating around our boat, which was cool.

Kiteboarders getting ready with Noumea in the background

It was finally onto Noumea where we were lucky and got a berth at the Port Moselle Marina. There are hundreds of boats here in Noumea! We’ve been so lucky with the weather while here. Time to investigate the city, reprovision, make some passage meals, do oil changes, wash clothes ready for cooler weather and check out.

Load and loads of boats

A visit to the Museum near the marina showed the history of the people here. Really interesting with great exhibits and English signs, yeah! Some of these garments below must have been very scratchy on the skin!
We cycled out to Baie de Citron on a bike path to see everyone out enjoying the good weather. Lots of restaurants, clubs, hotels and a nice beach, you could see why it was popular.
The bar at the Moselle marina was a great place to sit back, relax and enjoy the music in the evenings. 

Sadly time to say goodbye to Aline and Luc who are heading to Sydney. Always tough saying goodbye to people you have had a good time with, but then this is part of this lifestyle. Will miss Aline’s fishing skills!
Happy Halloween everyone.

At Barca brewery at Baie de Citron and Halloween decorations are everywhere.

Oct 31 here so time for us to move on too.

Ile des Pins, New Caledonia

We’d heard so much about the Southern Lagoon and in particular Ile des Pins with its crystal clear blue water, white sand beaches and lots of reefs with colorful coral gardens.

Views up at Pic N’ga near Kuto

 

On a sadder note, from 1872 – 1913 Ile des Pins was a political convict settlement where France sent by ship its prisoners (3000 Frenchmen & 12 women) to the island. Ruins can be seen around the island and in particular the Kuto area.
Brett at one of the many prison ruins near Kuto built in 1881.

 

 

Gadji
What a beautiful spot! There are a few small islands and lots of mushroom limestone formations; a great place to kayak and snorkel.

this is not color enhanced, the sun was out & the lagoon here had incredible colored water

It’s the snorkeling here we will remember as it was awesome, other than the cold water to which our long wet suits had to come out. There was a good variety of coral with vibrant different colors and textures and plenty of fish about.
Kuto
Kuto Bay is nicely protected with a soft white sand beach and a resort with a restaurant right on the beach (serving very expensive food and alcohol). Interestingly no alcohol can be purchased at the local stores here you have to buy it at the hotel!

Anchorage with Pic N’ga Mountain in the background

We ended up staying in Kuto to wait out some strong gusty winds but it was a great place to be as the bay was protected, the bakery and store were down the road, there was a Dugong swimming around to watch out for and there were a lot of places to go hiking. Always interesting what you come across when out hiking.

Wandering around some ruins Brett & Luc came across some Prisoner cells; very small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

private beaches tucked away

A hike up the mountainous Pic N’ga trek (262m), the islands highest point with Luc & Aline had to be made to see the fantastic views. Great having a cruise ship in to give us perspective for how big the bay was.

the trail up the side of the mountain was well maintained and good exercise

Boats heading to NZ seem to use this as a jump off point for when they see a good weather window so we’ll probably take advantage of this protected bay for a good nights sleep before we head south.

A truely beautiful area with lots of outlying islands and reefs to visit. There are a lot more small islands with excellent snorkeling and diving so we will have to return. Until next time! Back to the mainland to see more sights. Time is flying……

The Lovely Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia

John & Leanne from the Down Under Rally (www.downunderrally.com) organized for 7 boats to clear in at Lifou in the Loyalty Islands, which was excellent and very easy. They even organized a van so we could all get a SIM card for Internet access and groceries after emptying our fridge and freezers of food for bio-security clearance. There were great supermarkets in Lifou for stocking up with fresh veg again and Brie and baguettes; yum!

back with all our groceries

Leanne from Ooroo and I hanging out on some interesting tables near the dock

We were then free to cruise the islands and reefs on our way to Noumea the main port for clearance. The Loyalty Islands are made up of 3 main Islands; Ouvéa, Lifou and Maré. We were lucky to see how special and different it was here compared to any of the French Polynesian islands we have been to. Not a lot of cruisers come this way after clearing in.

traditional Melanasian huts that local people live and congregate in

 

 

These islands still have a lot of culture and tradition alive in their everyday lives. Weaving, sculpturing, fishing all very common activities here.

 

 

 

Most of the population speaks French, very little English and the local language is a different dialect of Melanesian on each island. The women here wear very brightly colored long flowing dresses, which after being here in this heat with the sun beating down for a few days, I could see the benefits of. Everyone we met was very friendly.

Local Ladies cleaning the beach

Lifou and Maré are uplifted limestone plateaus covered in pine trees with big bays, crystal clear blue water and colorful coral close to shore. At Lifou, we walked to Notre-Damn de Lourdes chapel built in 1898 sitting high on the cliff at the entrance to the Bay near where we anchored.
The roads on both Ouvéa and Lifou were sealed and flat so perfect for getting the bikes out to see parts of the islands. A 25km plus return trip on Ouvéa to find baguettes had us passing lots of traditional homes and people coming to see what these strange folding bikes were. Shame our French is soooo bad!

Entering the Grand Chefferie in Mouli, Ouvéa to obtain permission to be here and visit the island

traditional homesteads on Ouvéa

the graveyards here are colorfully decorated

Lots of interesting looking churches.

Ouvéa was stunning with its long white sand beach. “Tres Jolie”. Time to relax, walk and enjoy the 25km beach with shells galore. Luc & Aline S/V Oceana1 after hearing how beautiful it was made the overnight trip from Noumea to join us and help us with our French!
The bridge between Mouli and Lekiny on Ouvéa had spectacular views within the lagoon and lots of fish, eagle rays and big turtles swimming in the current.

We’d also heard about the Lekiny Caves but it’s only possible to visit with a guide and only on certain days in conjunction with low tide. Was definitely worth the visit. Loved our transport to the caves along with friends S/V Oceana1 & Second Wind. Luc & Aline were great interpreters for all us English speaking people.

Lekiny Caves behind us, yes we cross this river.

great views back to the Mouli bridge

In 1953 a cyclone hit the island of Ouvéa and the local people all went to the Lekiny Caves to seek protection. They all survived even though the island suffered a lot of damage so the people built an alter in the main cave and special ceremonies have been held here since.
This has definitely been a special place to visit with very few cars, beautiful beaches, friendly locals and incredible sunsets again.
Off to see more of New Caledonia.