Noumea: New Caledonia’s wild west

Hamish Fletcher avoids dangerous sea creatures and romantic liaisons but laps up the natural beauty of Bourail.

“It’s not like the Steven Spielberg movies,” tour guide Emeric Amice reassures me.

We’re speeding in a water taxi through the turquoise Bourail Lagoon and our skipper has just recalled the time he had a run-in with a shark while out surfing.

I’m minutes away from jumping over the side of the boat and haven’t yet paid any mind to what Jaws-esque beast could be roaming this stretch of ocean.

It doesn’t seem like a bad place for a shark to hunt; along with well-fed tourists snorkelling and scuba-diving, the 24,000sq km of lagoon that surround New Caledonia’s main island host a buffet of colourful fish.

It’s for this very reason I’m diving headlong into these tepid waters, to meander through the coral and its abundance of marine life.

He says the first thing to take into account when coming up with any food and drink match is the customer’s personal tastes.

Red wine can be paired with fish and chicken and white wine with meat, if the dishes are prepared in the right way.

“We can do what we want,” he says.




flies from Auckland to Noumea five times a week, with Economy Class return fares starting from $549.

For information on activities, go to

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