February 18, 2017
Noumea is the capital of New Caledonia. 25% of the total nickel reserves in the world are mined here which has dramatically increased their GNP. There isn’t too much tourism and there is a wide gap between the rich and poor. This is the third largest island in the South Pacific. It is home to the world’s largest lagoon and second largest coral reef. The country is French and Noumea has all the ambiance of a provincial French town with the heavenly climate of the Pacific Islands. There are no earthquakes or volcanos here but they do get cyclones, the last was in 2003 and they say since then the storms have gone closer to Vanuatu and Australia.
This town is the most “westernized” city in the Pacific Islands and is a contrast to the open spaces, beaches and lovely hills on the rest of the island. Quite charming. It also has more sunny days, although we did have an afternoon rain.
Our excursion today was to an area of the coral reef for snorkeling. The diversity of coral and fish species is extensive here and the lagoons been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site with the ecosystems being legally protected.
Some people took an excursion on the Tchou Tchou train!!
We had an absolutely wonderful morning. We saw so many species of fish, many sea turtles, sharks, manta rays , morey eels and some really beautiful coral. Love those sea turtles. I again took video and pictures but can’t upload them here due to Wi-Fi speed. We snorkeled for about 2 hours, then returned to the ship for showers and lunch. Will try to capture some of the photos from the video footage, we will see how successful I will be. I need our sons here to advise me.
After that we went out and took the hop on hop off bus around the town. We stopped for drinks at Lemon Bay, a nice beach area with lots of bars and restaurants.
There was also a Royal Caribbean ship, a large one, in port, so we couldn’t understand why the shops closed at noon! There was a handicraft market at the terminal so we got a turtle magnet. That was the extent of the shopping.
Another sea day tomorrow then on to Norfolk Island.