New Caledonia is a French overseas island territory made up of a group of islands and the world’s largest lagoon. It is located east of Australia in the south pacific. It has a tropical climate with the hotter and wetter season from November to March and the cooler drier season from June to August. The central mountain range of the largest island called Grand Terre creates a variety of micro-climates and land formations allowing for the development of endemic species of plants and animals found nowhere else.
The human population is made up of a mix of the original inhabitants called the Kanak people and people of European, Asian, and Arabic origin as well as some from other pacific islands. The majority of the population speaks French. Indigenous languages are also spoken and taught in schools. The islands have a thriving economy with nickel mining providing a good percentage of their exports.
Grand Terre is surrounded by a massive barrier reef, making it a vacation destination for scuba and snorkeling enthusiasts. Beaches, French cities, mountain chalets, hiking, and camping are other tourist pursuits enjoyed in New Caledonia.
Citizens of the EU can visit visa-free for as long as they like. Citizens from a number of other countries including the USA can stay as long as 90 days without a visa. Cruise ships visit Noumea (which is on Grand Terre) as well as the islands of Lifou, Maré, and Isle of Pines (Ile des Pins). Our ship stopped at Lifou and Maré. Lifou had more things for tourists to do at and near the port than Maré. Both had good snorkeling within walking distance of the tender pier if you have your own gear.