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New Caledonia

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New Caledonia

The biggest lagoon in the world

New Caledonia lies at 21 degrees 30 minutes south latitude and 165 degrees` 3 minutes east longitude, in the heart of the South Pacific; about 932 nm east of Australia.

British naval explorer Capt. James Cook discovered the island in 1774. Its rugged coastline reminded him so much of Scotland that Cook named it New Caledonia in honor of his Scottish father. Both France and Britain settled the island-actually a group of islands including Loyalty Islands, Isle of Pines, Belep and a number of smaller islands-in the early 19th century. Today, New Caledonia is a self-governing territory of France.

A 1,600 km (994 mi.) barrier reef encircles the main island, creating one of the most beautiful (and largest) lagoons in the world. Cooled by the Pacific Ocean and trade winds, New Caledonia enjoys a soft, sunny climate. From the central mountain range to the warm tropical waters, visitors will discover an impressive assortment of plants and animals.

With an incredible mixture of ethnic groups, New Caledonia is a land with many traditions, customs and cultures. A blend of Melanesian and French culture, enhanced by Polynesian and Asian influences creates an exciting yet harmonious lifestyle.

The world’s largest lagoon covers approximately 24,000 square km (14,912-square miles), making it one of the most remarkable and beautiful sailing locations in the world. In fact, this third largest archipelago in the South Pacific offers a choice of 74 beautiful, and mostly uninhabited, islands, with some extraordinary anchorages.

Dream Yacht Charter’s sailing adventure begins in New Caledonia’s capital, Nouméa. French cultural influences make this cosmopolitan city seem a bit like the French Riviera, across thousands of nautical miles in the South Pacific. Colorful waterfronts are lined with bars, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs. It is a terrific place to stock up on superb French gourmet food and wine before hoisting sail.

The journey to the Isle of Pines is a fantastic sailing experience, as you are able to navigate close to the shore. At Isle Pines, you’ll discover some of the most beautiful bays in the world, making it the perfect base from which to explore this unique paradise. The island is surrounded by a marine reserve dotted with small islands such as the remote Nokan Hui, one of the most beautiful moorings in the world.

Many islets near Noumea are perfect for an idyllic long weekend escape. Most are usually deserted. The water teems with fish, which is ideal for those sailors who like to catch their own dinner. For more adventuresome explorers, the Loyalty Islands of Ouvéa, Lifou and Maré, are seldom visited by more conventional tourists. Wherever you travel in New Caledonia, expect to be treated with a warmth and a personal touch that matches the weather.