Quiet, Clean and Slow
First impression; this island is quiet, very quiet and peaceful, clean – very clean and slow, no one hurries, they all take their time and serve just one person at a time and they have all the time in the world for that person. What a find. The rawness of it is refreshing.
If you want to experience Pacific Island life, foreign language, French, non-tourist destination, then this is the place for you. It’s still raw. Tourism is not high on their list of priorities. I think they would like to keep what they have for themselves. I asked around when is your busy season. They all replied the same – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It has an interesting feel to the place, with island Melanesian and French ladies, all mixed up.
200 million years ago, New Caledonia was part of Gondwana. A section of this continent broke away to form new land masses including Australia and Melanesian land: NewCaledonia. Surrounded by a carol reef, New Caledonia bathes in the largest lagoon in the world, listed as a Unesco world Heritage site since 2008. No taxi at the airport! This is important. We caught the shuttle bus, the only transport that could be found. XFP3,000.00 each for the 50 minute ride to the hotel. (the International airport is Tontouta, situated some 50km from Noumea). It would appear, once all those passengers have reserved seats on the bus are on board, they close the door and off they go. So, if you are not reserved don’t be late. It is a long wait for a taxi. I had read of stories of passengers waiting two hours or more. I was to learn about this situation that where the airport is built belongs to a different tribe to down town Noumea, so only the taxis from the local area can service the airport. There are only two – if they come.
The island from what we observed from the flight, looks mountainous and rugged and then there is a peninsular where Noumea the capital is located. I had totally the wrong perspective of this island, looking at a map of Noumea I was thinking I was seeing one side of the island to the other!!
The mainland stretching over 16,750km forms an expanse of undulating land 400km long and 50km wide with the highest peak in the north Mt Panie 1629 metres in height.
No – just the peninsular. Talking to a local on the flight over, we learnt that the East coast was not a place we should visit as they are not that friendly to visitors – tempting. We were keen to rent a vehicle and drive around and once again our perspective of the size of the island was somewhat wrong. It would take us 3 hours to get to the Sheraton Deva (163 km) and a whole day to the top of the island….
Check out my next post for our experience of different hotels as we travelled around the Island.