Category Archives: New Caledonia

Isle of Pines and Oro Bay : New Caledonia

After having a wonderful time in Noumea and Lifou, our last port was Isle of Pines. Everyone told me that it is the best place in New Caledonia and when we docked there, we could easily see why. It lived up to my expectations with beautiful white sand, stunningly clear blue water and impressive pine trees.

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Isle of Pines was dramatically formed by a series of volcanic upheavals and is truly beautiful. After we docked, the tender boat took us to shore, Kuto Bay, and we were greeted by a French Polynesian song and dance by the locals. There is an fort like fence near this port, possibly built by the French to keep out the locals.

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They also gave each of us a headband with flowers. I realised that they did their best to match the headband with our clothes, mine was pink as I was wearing pink top and AS had yellow as he had a yellow t-shirt on. After that we spotted the stand where you could get your passport stamped for $2 AUD or $200 French Pacific Franc. Unfortunately, we forget to carry our passport with us.

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That day we had booked a 2.5 hours day tour to snorkel at the Natural Aquarium. It is a traditional fish reserve and popular snorkeling site which can be found on the secluded lagoon edge of Oro Bay We waited for the bus and traveled to our destination.  As we traveled, we got to see the surprisingly diverse landscape of the small island. Most of the land was green and there was hardly any traffic on the road. Along the way we passed cows, local villages, lots of mango trees laden with fruit and plenty of jungle.  After about 20 minutes, we arrived at our destination, got out and walked to our destination.

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After a short walk through knee high water we arrived at the natural aquarium. The place is just beautiful with blue water, green trees and lucky for us blue sky as well. We set eyes on this incredible pool of blue water surrounded by the pine trees; we knew it was well worth the journey. It is a protected area which many fish have decided to call home. Like other parts of New Caledonia, we saw lots of dead corals and I was glad that both of had reef shoe on.

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Oro Bay (Baie d’ Oro) is an absolute ‘must-see’ destination . It would have to be one of the most beautiful and stunning natural sites I have ever seen in my life.  It is surrounded by dense vegetation with much of it being the Island’s incredible pine trees; the sand is the whitest I have ever seen and the water the most serene shade of turquoise.

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We dumped our stuffs at the end of the beach and just jumped into the water. There were already some tours there already but it was a good thing because one Japanese group had bread with them, which meant there were so many fishes closer to the shore.

The water at Oro Bay is the clearest I have ever snorkeled in.  It is like looking through the cleanest fish tank.  You can definitely see from the surface all the way to the white sandy bottom . However, if you have been snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, you will not find the coral to be as vibrant or as interesting. We saw plenty of ‘Nemo’ fish and zebra fish and other fish of many different kinds and in terms of coral we saw clams in a range of colours and many other beautiful types of coral.

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We both snorkeled and had so much fun chasing the fishes. The fish there were so confident that as I swam over them they didn’t flinch, just went about their business.

It was so much fun that I couldn’t believe that the tour was over so quick. We packed and headed to the bus to go back to Kuto bay. Before we boarded the bus we were served fresh fruits, watermelon and papaya and fresh coconut as well. They were very yummy.

Once back at Kuto Bay, we decided to walk around and find a good spot. Snorkeling was next on the plan in Kanumera Bay which is just opposite Kuto bay. There is a large rock in this area called La Rocher just off shore, which is completely off limits as it is sacred to the locals.. We took a few photos and went straight into the ocean to find more fishes. The photos taken in Isle of Pines are one of the best photos of the trip.

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The water took us by surprise being a little colder than we thought and was extremely salty. There is coral in the bay but pretty old and mostly dead. The fish life is lovely and it’s easy to snorkel and watch them, the water being quite refreshing. It was not as good as Oro bay but still really beautiful.

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We snorkeled around the “island rock” got some great photos while in the water and some beautiful underwater shots too. I really didn’t want to come out of the water but we had to.

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After snorkeling, we walked around a very small market area to get some last minute souvenirs.  I ended up buying a nice turtle made out of wood and shell.

Overall, we had a wonderful experience and loved Isle of Pines. We returned to the ship on a tender around 4pm and retreated to our cabin for some much needed rest.

Take care ,

M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO

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Lifou – New Caledonia

Our next port of call was Lifou.  Both I and AS were very excited about this place as we had done some research beforehand and knew the things to do. We didn’t have a tour booked for Lifou as we wanted to tour the island ourselves.

Lifou is the largest atoll in the world – over 1,200 sq km – but it is still delightfully ‘remote’ and we had to drop anchor offshore and tender in.

It is so different visiting an island from a cruise ship as opposed to with another form of travel. Normally I would have done extensive research before going on a holiday but this time I didn’t do much as we were going on a cruise. But going on the tour in Noumea previous day we had the experience how tours normally were organised from inside the ship.  If you go on a tour, you use Australian money and pay about 2 – 5 times as much as you would if going it by yourself.  Because we’ve traveled quite a bit before, it sounded like a great idea to ditch the tour and make your own tracks. I was a bit worried but AS convinced me that it will all be good.

We had breakfast on the ship and waited for our tender boat to take us ashore. It was a beautiful sunny day and I couldn’t wait to go and swim in the water. As it looked like it might be a while before our number was called, we went to the top deck to take some photos.

From the deck of a cruise ship Lifou’s golden beach glows against the brightest of green backdrops, made up of coconut trees and a variety of smaller palms. The vegetation is so dense it blocks out everything behind.

Once we stepped on Lifou Island we knew we needed to find a church and a marine park. As we made our way to the church, we met a staff from a ship who told us that we were going the wrong direction and pointed out to the right one. It looked really far and it was getting hot. As we walked towards the direction pointed out by the ship staff we saw heaps of people coming back. I stopped one of them just to make sure we were heading in the right direction and luckily we were.

The white building we had seen from the ship turned out to be the church of Our Lady of Lourdes, built by Catholic missionaries in 1898. It takes about 25 minutes at a slow pace to get there because the weather is hot and humid year-round, but the climb is gradual, with only one steep section. We are told about 200 locals gather once a year for a mass to celebrate the founding of the church. Sweeping ocean views made it worth the climb on the brilliant, cloudless day, and the sea breeze has visitors cooled down in no time.

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The church provides a 360 degree view of Lifou – a sight not to be missed. The descent takes half the time.

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As we were making our way back we saw two local boys selling fresh coconut juice, we grabbed one each and it was nice and refreshing. I wished it was cold too but it was still worth spending $6 for 2. They also had a mud crab tied to a rock so we took some photo with it.

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On the way back, we stopped at the beautiful Jinek Bay.

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This snorkeling beach is renowned for its vast expanse of corals and wide variety of tropical fish. Couple this with warm and crystal clear water and this provides the perfect platform for a stunning afternoon of snorkeling.  I really wanted to snorkel before but you need a permit and they were not selling any on site, we couldn’t get any permits on ship as they had run out of it. The place looked beautiful from the top itself and we learned that dozens of varieties of fish were found there, including angelfish, clownfish, lionfish, blue stripe snapper, grouper clownfish (Nemo) and butterfly fish.

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As we couldn’t swim, we took as many photos as we could and decide to go and snorkel elsewhere on the Island.

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As we were returning, we met a couple, table mates for dinner on the ship, who informed us that there was a beautiful cave on the other side of the Island. As we had plenty of time, we decided to go and check that out too.

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We started walking up a hill along a road and passed a lot of people coming the other way.  Everyone we met said that the place was really beautiful so we kept on walking.  It was really hot, and we were a bit tired by then. We finally saw a church, and around the side were a few men sitting in front of a sign pointing toward the caves.  As we walked toward the cave, the men came and asked if we were going inside. He wanted money and we managed to get a good price ($10) for the two of us to get in. He wanted more but we said that’s all we had and he lets us go on.

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As we walked inside, I could see that the path was small and steep. The path got rockier and the trees bigger as we continued towards the cave. I was a bit sacred when we had to climb through tight spaces and down wet rocks.

I was thinking it was a bad idea when all I had to hold was a thick ship rope that lined the path.

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Inside the cave, it was dark but there was a large pool of water below us.  There were a few people already jumping into the pool and they told us the water was cold and invigorating but the pool was very deep. The rocks around the pool were limestone and when we shone the torch down we could see tunnels that seemed to go forever.  Tree roots hung down from the rocks and the whole place was scary but beautiful.

I really wanted to jump into the pool as everyone seemed to be doing but we decided not to. We still stayed there for a while and took some photos before climbing up the same narrow path back to the top.

We headed back up the path back to the area so we could swim and snorkel. The beach area was very long so we picked one spot left and our belonging and went to snorkel. The water was warm but as the sand was too fine, you have to go a bit further out to see the beautiful corals and fishes.

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As we were swimming, someone told us there were many turtles a few meters away but we didn’t really see them. Still, we managed to see lots of corals and fish and it was so much fun.

We took some nice shots with the Carnival Spirit in the background.

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Afterwards we were tired so we went to the market where local crafts and colourful shirts and sarongs were on sale.

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It was almost 4 pm by then and we both were starving so we made our way back to the tender boats to get back on ship

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Our day on Lifou was amazing; even though we didn’t book the tours we were happy to discover so many things in one day.

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Take care everyone ,

M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO

Noumea and Amedee Island – New Caledonia

On our cruise, our first port of call was Nouema. After sailing for 60 hours without seeing land, when we docked at Noumea harbour, I was really excited. The morning we reached Nouema, I opened our window and was so happy to be at the port. As fun as it was to go around the Carnival Spirit doing various things, being on a boat for a long time gives you a feeling as if you are always moving or swaying.

AS told me that is what being drunk feels like. I have never been drunk in my life so I don’t know how it feels but if that is what being drunk feels like I don’t want to be drunk ever.

On the morning we arrived in Noumea, there was an audible excitement around the cruise. We had arrived somewhere beautiful with blue water and lots of history.

There were heaps of things one could do while in Nouemea like taking a ‘Tchoo Tchoo Train’ tour, do a city tour, do a village tour and many more but we didn’t want to think much so we booked a whole day tour to Amedee Island.

We had heard that Amedee Island was really beautiful so I was looking forward to snorkeling and geared up for that. Our tour included the following things.

Activities included:

  • Glass Bottom Boat ride
  • Reef Exploration Cruise
  • Lighthouse visit
  • Sarong tying demonstration
  • Coconut tree climbing demonstration

Island Lunch included:

  • Welcome cocktail
  • Buffet lunch with wine – during a South Pacific folkloric show
  • Coffee and Tea

So after breakfast we went to the meeting point from where we were to catch a bus to a smaller boat and then to Amedee Island. The Amedee Island is a natural marine reserve, situated on the New Caledonian barrier reef, in the biggest lagoon in the world. And this ‘secret’ paradise was classified as a unique UNESCO heritage site in 2009.

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As we exited the ship, we were greeted with a landscape of skyscrapers and yachts. We had reached the rather westernized capital city of the French territory of New Caledonia: Noumea. There was a photographer who was taking our photo with local people as we were getting off the ship.

There were buses from a company called Mary D which was taking us on a short bus trip to board the ferry. The boat was called, Mary D Princess which took 45 minutes to get to the Amedee Island. As we got closer to the Island, we saw the beauty blue water and white lighthouse. I knew that we were going to have a great day as the water was crystal clear.

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When we got on the Island, I could see why they called it Paradise. The water was crystal clear and I could see fishes swimming near the shore but one has to be careful as there were sharp pieces of coral, dead leaves, and the odd piece of broken glass everywhere. I was glad that we packed our reef shoe so we didn’t have to worry about all that at all.

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As there were many activates set for the day we decided to go and visit the light house first before getting into the water.

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We climbed to the top of the 150 years old lighthouse – all 241 steps. The lighthouse was built in the 1860′s in France by Napoleon III and transported to the Island. It stands 56 metres tall and is the second highest lighthouse in the world.

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By the time we made our way up the tight spiral staircase to the top, I was huffing and puffing but once I was on the balcony, I knew all the effort was worth it. Fighting against the wind we opened the solid iron door and we saw an amazing view of the lagoon, reef, and the little islands.

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The water looked just amazing and people on the island very tiny.

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We went around the tiny balcony of the lighthouse and once we rested and enjoyed the view, it was time to come down as there were many more things on our list before going back to our ship. Coming down was rather easy compared to climbing up.

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Next, we decided to take a ferry ride to explore a part of the barrier reef where we were told we might see turtles, rays, or dolphins. There were not many people on board so we went outside to deck hoping for a better view. Once we were in the correct area, the boat stopped and the guide threw breads. Once the bread was in the water heaps of fish came.

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Unfortunately we didn’t see any turtles since we can’t control what wildlife we would see. So we made our way back to the island.

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By that time, it was almost time for lunch so went to the lunch area where there were served a huge array of salads, fruits, seafood, hot dishes and ice-cream, buffet style, while performers entertained us with local traditional music and dance.

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As it was Christmas Eve so Santa came in a speed boat with lollies for kids.

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After a scrumptious buffet lunch and a display of dancing, we decided to swim and snorkel as that was the real reason we choose the particular trip. The water was just beautiful, you didn’t have to swim far to see beautiful corals and colourful fishes.

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We also saw lots of while/colourless fish which almost blended in with the water and of course the water snake. They told us that the snake doesn’t bite until we annoy them so I was very excited to swim with them. They were black and light brown in colour and I couldn’t keep up with them.

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After swimming and snorkeling we were really tried so decided we should go on Glass bottom boat. I was a bit sceptical at this point, as our previous experience with a glass bottom boat in Thailand had not been very fruitful. When we got on the boat I was happy to see that they had a huge glass bottom, and already suckerfish had stuck themselves to the bottom of the boat enjoying the free ride.

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As we went further out into the ocean, they fed food from tubes on the boat and heaps of fishes like black and white zebra fish, butterfly fish, and amazing multi-coloured fish, blue Nemo and many other fishes appeared, To our excitement we also saw turtles multiple times and it was just amazing.

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Everyone one the boat were happy with the trip.

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Back on the Island, there was coconut tree climbing and coconut cutting demonstration happening. I watched and tasted the freshly cut coconut. It was really yummy and definitely fresh. Then we went to the only souvenir shop in the island to see if we could buy anything.

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Before long, our time on Amedee Lighthouse Island was over and it was time to return once more to our ferry for journey back to Noumea.

Because the tour was all day, we had left the ship at 8.30am and got back only 15 mins before sail away, we didn’t really have time to explore Noumea proper this time. I wished I had more time to get to know it a bit more, and understand its people. But both I and AS were satisfied with our day and couldn’t wait to have a hot shower and go to dinner as we were famished after an eventful day.

Take care everyone ,

M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO

I am back

Hello everyone and a very happy New Year 2014. Yap I am finally back to reality from my wonderful holiday. I am back with refreshed mind, few more kilos on my body, 5 shades darker and lots of memories.

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I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Thank you so much for all your good wishes.

Thinking about this, I just realised that time goes so fast and it’s already been a year since I was writing a Happy New Year post from Kathmandu.

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Anyway, I am happy to report that I loved the cruise and all my fears vanished once I stepped into the Carnival Spirit. It was so grand and majestic that I loved everything.

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I already miss twice-a-day housekeeping, wonderful and yummy foods, the amazing views, snorkelling in crystal clear water, relaxing on the pool side and watching amazing shows every night. Everything made us feel spoiled and made our holiday perfect. We also meet some great people who made our holiday even better. I have so much to share with you all but before that I need to unpack, do the laundry, clean the house, do some grocery, get in touch with our families and get ready to go back to work from tomorrow.

So as I get my life sorted in the real world, please enjoy some amazing photos from our holiday. I promise I will be back with heaps of posts soon.

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Take care everyone,

M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO

Counting down

As I mentioned before, we will be going on a Cruise to New Caledonia soon and I am counting down the days until the day arrives. This year has been really long and I am glad holiday time is almost here so I can relax and enjoy the remaining days of this year. We will be spending Christmas on board so it will be a different experience.

I have to say I am a bit anxious about this particular holiday because I will be spending most of the time in the ship. This is our first cruise and being first time cruisers we were a little bit apprehensive and are doing a lot of research. I have sailed before but never been on a cruise so I am having mixed feeling. I am busy doing my research to make sure I don’t make any mistakes and reading everyone’s’ experience I can see that most of them really enjoyed it so I am hoping to come back and report that I had a fun holiday.

The most worrying part for me is seasickness. I normally don’t get sea sick and I am going to take heaps of medications as well to help me be normal but sometimes you can plan all you want and still things may not work out so a bit worried about it.

Most of the holidays we go to, I have full day plan for nearly all days so I know what I am doing and in control of everything but this holiday we are going to have few sea days and I have no idea how we should spend those. I have been doing my research and there seems to be heaps of things to do in Carnival like going on water ride, golfing, swimming or just relaxing but still not having a proper plan is making me worried a bit.

Apart from that, I think most of the things should go smoothly. I will spend 2 weeks with my loving husband by my side just relaxing, swimming, snorkeling, eating and enjoying ourselves. Can’t thank him enough for make my birthday so special and making me so happy with the cruise as a birthday gift.

If anyone has been on Carnival Spirit before, your suggestions will be highly valuable.

I am very excited about our destination. I have heard a lot about New Caledonia for years now and always wanted to go there and now we will be stopping there in less than a months’ time. I always love tropical holidays with lots of sun, sand and sea and this one is going to be one like that too. As all of you know, I am a summer person and tropical holiday is my cup of tea 🙂

One of the stop for us is Isle of Pines and I have seen so many amazing photos from this place. Isle of Pines was dramatically formed by a series of volcanic upheavals and is truly beautiful.

Another stop is Lifou which is within the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia and known for their coral reefs and limestone caves.

Hope this holiday will be exciting and fun so we can book more cruise holidays in the future too.

See you with my next post soon.

M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO