Noumea, New Caledonia

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The capital of New Caledonia, Noumea is a little piece of France in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Before World War II, New Caledonia was a little known and seldom-visited French possession known for its penal colony and its natural resources. (Nickel smelting still plays a major role in the island economy.) Today, travelers are drawn to New Caledonia for its scenic beauty. The island is famed for its white-sand beaches while its barrier reef is the world's second longest. The offshore waters also offer superb diving and snorkeling.

In 1774, James Cook thought the island's rugged hills resembled those of his native Scotland. Hence he christened the island New Caledonia. The island and its outlying groups became a French colony in 1854 and an overseas department of France in 1956.

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  • Aquarium des Lagons Aquarium des Lagons

    The aquarium, founded in 1956 by biologist Rene Catala, boasts an extensive collection of fish and other aquatic life forms of the area.

  • Anse Vata Anse Vata

    As one of Noumea's most popular resorts, Anse Vata is a favorite spot for swimming, windsurfing, sailing and kayaking.

  • Baie de Citrons Beach Baie de Citrons Beach

    With big shade trees to picnic under, a broad expanse of sand on which to stretch out, and clear shallow water to cool off in, Baie des Citrons Beach is "where everyone in Noumea goes swimming."

  • Parc Forestier Parc Forestier

    Perched high above the city, Noumea's zoological and botanical gardens covers 74 miles with an extensive collection of birds and other animals from the region.

  • Place des Cocotiers (Coconut Square) Place des Cocotiers (Coconut Square)

    Lined with centuries-old flame red trees, the main central square is a bustling center of activity, with street markets and concerts, musicians practicing on the bandstand and locals playing chess.

  • Mt. Ouen Toro Mt. Ouen Toro

    At the southern tip of the Noumea peninsula, Mt. Ouen Toro (420 feet) offers stunning views of Noumea. A hike to the summit puts you a stone's throw away from Anse Vata Beach.

  • Duck Island ( Duck Island ("Ilot Canard") or Amedee

    Duck Island is a natural marine park located in the lagoon surrounding Noumea; Amedee is a tiny islet on the barrier reef marine reserve. Both offer the opportunity to sunbathe and swim in a South Pacific paradise.

  • Outer Islands Outer Islands

    Noumea is a peninsula surrounded by several islands and coral reefs, including Duck Island, Amedee, Goeland Island and Island Master, each within easy reach by water taxis, shuttles and boats.

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