The main island, named New Caledonia since it was discovered by James Cook in 1774, is now more commonly known as Grande Terre. 400 km long and around 50 to 70 km wide, a mountain range runs all the way down it like a backbone, from the north-west to the south-west. Mount Panié is its highest point, at an altitude of 1629 meters. This geographical feature means it offers visitors two coasts with very different climates and landscapes.
The west coast is characterized by its vast niaouli plains, expanses of bush and savannah, and white sand beaches which are virtually deserted. This is the land of the Caledonian cowboys, also known as ‘stockmen’, who rear livestock and love taking part in rodeos. To the east, there is lush vegetation with wild riverbanks, waterfalls, humid tropical forests, and magnificent tree ferns. Its more powerful-looking coast, with mountains that jut out into the lagoon, retains an authentic feel, with many tribes living in the villages on the coast.
New Caledonia is made up of three Provinces: The North Province stretches from the Belep archipelago to the Canala-Poya line, the South Province occupies the rest of Grande Terre with the Isle of Pines and is home to 75% of the population, and the Loyalty Islands Province includes the islands of Maré, Lifou, Ouvéa and Tiga.
A journey in the lands of New Caledonia is an exotic experience full of unusual encounters, with welcoming local people who will be happy to share their way of life with you.
Nouméa and its region
Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia, accounts for 60% of the population of the Great South. This dynamic, cultural city offers visitors a wide range of activities on land and sea, as well as magnificent landscapes that stretch as far as the South of Grande Terre. The Great South includes the communes of Mont Dore and Yaté, and is distinguished by its deep red soil. Barely 1 hour away from the capital, the Great South is full of beautiful discoveries and authentic experiences.
Isle of Pines
You’re in paradise! With long, white sandy beaches and picture postcard landscapes, the Isle of Pines lives up to its reputation and is an essential destination in New Caledonia. Its inhabitants are extremely friendly, and will offer you a very warm welcome. Diving into the nearby lagoon is a real delight, with warm, clear water, abundant marine life, caves, a natural swimming pool, bays lined with coconut trees…it’s like being in a postcard!
Grande Terre from south to north
Grande Terre is split in two lengthwise by a mountain range. The South Province is home to around 75% of the population of New Caledonia, from the Poya-Canala line to the south of the island, and includes the Isle of Pines. Red Laterite dominates the far south of the island, with large expanses of bush dotted with waterfalls and rivers. The North Province presents many different faces to visitors. To the west, there are vast plains where Niaouli trees grow, and there are forests and wild riverbanks to the east.
Loyalty Islands Province
Around 125 km from the east coast of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands archipelago is made up of several coral islands including Ouvéa, Lifou and Maré, whose highest point is at 138 m, as well as many islets, a haven for migrant birds. Here again, the landscapes are extremely beautiful and amazingly diverse. White sand beaches, steep cliffs, thousand-year-old caves, water holes and tropical vegetation overlook the lagoon, an ecosystem which is home to many different species.