The island group of New Caledonia lies in the South Pacific Ocean in front of the Australian north coast. Geographically speaking, the region is part of Melanesia but with regard to politics, it belongs to France. Its French name is "Nouvelle-Calédoníe", which means as much as "New Scotland". That is why many people assume that the region is a British overseas territory. As soon as travellers set foot on the island, however, they realise that the tropical paradise belongs to France despite the humid and hot temperatures between 25 °C and 30 °C.
The world-famous greatest coral reef - the Great Barrier Reef- lies in front of Australia. The second greatest reef - the New Caledonia Barrier Reef - belongs to the overseas territory of New Caledonia and is a World Cultural heritage site. There is a number of spectacular sights on the island, for example the wonderful white sandy beach of the Ouvéa atoll, which is 25 kilometres long, or the bizarre rock formations of La Poule ("the chicken"). Travellers are equally impressed by Upi Bay and St. Joseph's Bay on the Île des Píns and Turtle Bay near Bourail.
The native population of New Caledonia's islands consists of Melanesians and the Kanak people but these ethnic groups are minorities now. The reason for that is the settlement of the Europeans, mostly from France. Their descendants, called the "Caldoches", make up the major part of the present-day population. Europeans are still emigrating to the French overseas territorym and most of them are still French. In contrast to most other regions in Oceania, New Caledonia's population is growing constantly. Nevertheless, many citizens take a stand for the preservation of the island's culture and its independence from France. As an indication, they use the name "Kanaky" for New Caledonia.
It is a good idea to explore the islands on foot. This way, visitors can take in the islands in all their glory and see the many small sights. Examples are the lighthouse of Amédée near Nouméa, the cultural centre of Tjibau with exhibitions, concerts and traditional wooden buildings of the Kanak and the Place des Cocotiers in Nouméa. There is a number of leisure opportunities. Divers definitely get their money's worth here. In addition, the wonderful sandy beaches offer the ideal conditions for relaxing at the blue ocean under the tropical sun.
Travellers should not visit the island between November and April because the probability of rain is very high at that time.