The South Pacific offers even the most seasoned travelers a vacation experience like no other on this planet. The islands of New Caledonia and the Cook Islands are brimming with life, beauty and adventure. Are your bags packed yet? Get ready to start, then!
About the Islands: New Caledonia
Located northwest of New Zealand and east of Australia, New Caledonia is the third largest island in the Pacific. New Caledonia consists of four main areas including Noumea, the west and east coasts, and the Loyalty Islands. Each area showcases a different aspect of this “Pacifique Au Coeur” (heart of the Pacific).
Noumea is known prominently as the French Riviera of the Pacific with its vibrant neighborhoods, string of picturesque bays, and its museums and aquariums. Shops and gardens make this a favorite place to take a leisurely stroll before resting up for Noumea’s nightlife. Night owls can taste kava in the local bars or take in theater performances and classical music programs. There is always delightful music to enjoy, as well as a variety of nightclubs to choose from.
The west coast is home to the Broussards, the bush locals also known as the area’s cowboys. The Broussards raise cattle in the wide open plains while mangroves grow along the coastline. The east coast is extremely tropical and is home to the Kanak people. The area between the mountains and ocean is known for its exquisite waterfalls.
The Loyalty Islands consist of three islands: Lifou, Mare and Tiga. The population of these islands is almost entirely Kanak and as such, is an ideal destination in which to learn about Melanesian customs and culture.
About the Islands: Cook Islands
The Cook Islands consist of 15 islands situated at the center of the Polynesian Triangle, scattered across more than 770,000 square miles. The islands are divided into the Southern and Northern islands, each with its own distinct flavor and personality. The Southern islands include Rarotonga – the capital – as well as Aitutaki (aka, Honeymoon Island), Atiu, Mitiaro, Mangaia, Takutea, Manuae, Mauke and Palmerston. These islands are characterized by blue lagoons, white sands and volcanic peaks inhabited by friendly and relaxed people. The Northern islands are more remote and much more sparsely populated, consisting of Pukapuka, Penrhyn, Manihiki, Rakahanga, Suwarrow and Nassau.
Let the Adventure Begin!
In New Caledonia there is truly something for every outdoor enthusiast, nature lover and adventurer.
- Sail on the world’s largest lagoon and then enjoy peace and solitude from a deserted mooring, take a cruise on a luxury ship or enjoy a yacht charter.
- Go free diving or scuba diving in over 100 gorgeous, biologically diverse sites across the archipelago. You can go night diving or even be baptized in the pristine waters.
- Enjoy surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing, as well as opportunities to go water skiing, wakeboarding and paddle boarding.
- Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy both freshwater and sea fishing, while bow hunting and gun hunting is available on private property.
- Adrenaline seekers will get a thrill from skydiving, paragliding and zip lining, while those who like to enjoy things at a more sedate pace can go hiking, ocean kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking or swimming.
In the Cook Islands, cuisine and culture are two experiences you won’t want to miss. Whether it’s a beach café or a high class restaurant, there are plenty of places to savor the authentic tastes of the islands and some of best game fish in the world. Drumming and dancing, art and hymns are just the beginning of a rich cultural heritage. In short: adventuring in Cook Islands is an undoubtedly memorable experience.
There is plenty to explore both by land and by sea. Walking tours, mountain tours, cave tours, safari tours and trekking are all available with a variety of cultural and ecological themes. For the marine-minded explorer, there is snorkeling and scuba diving, fishing and sailing, and lagoon cruises.
Where to Stay
The Cook Islands also provide a wide selection of lodging options including hotels and resorts, holiday homes, self-catering villas, bed and breakfasts, as well as hostels and budget accommodations.
However, a holiday in New Caledonia offers a visitor a diverse range of accommodations including bungalows, ecolodges and farm stays, as well as hotels, wooden cabins and serviced apartments. No matter which islands you decide to visit, paradise and adventure – not to mention friendly locals and breathtaking locales – are awaiting your arrival.
This article was written by Rodney Bogota. Bogota is a travel writer who contributes to a handful of leisure blogs. He is currently planning a motorcycle trip across Russia.