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Why you'll never get board in New Caledonia

Whether it’s off a boat, from the beach or on a board, there’s an ocean of water sport alternatives available in New Caledonia.



One of the best ways to explore the waterways of New Caledonia is by canoe or kayak, either on your own, with a group of friends or with a guide. Don’t worry if you’ve never been in a kayak before: there are plenty of calm, inland waterways without the sometimes turbulent waves of the ocean. Most resort hotels have kayaks or canoes you can rent, either for the hour or for the day.


Visitors can learn to paddle along the Dumbéa River, the Ouenghi River, or even along the calm lake of the Blue River Provincial Park. Here you can also enjoy a solo or two-person kayak trip after dark, using the light of the full moon to discover the drowned forest within the park.



Of course, the more experienced and sports-minded kayakers will appreciate a wilder destination and the Forgotten Coast is certainly the spot. Accessible only by sea and far from civilisation, this dense part of the eastern Caledonian coast between Yaté and Thio offers visitors the chance to find their inner Robinson Crusoe on trips of two to five days.


Just like kayaking, there’s no need to be a board sport fanatic to get started in New Caledonia. In Nouméaa, Poé, Koumac or Hienghène, schools offer beginner classes so you can try your hand at different activities for a few hours while enjoying the ocean environment.



Windsurfing is particularly popular, with the territory hosting the Nouméa Dreamcup, an international competition, for many years in the capital. Stand-up paddle, affectionately called SUP, is also available, with early morning on Anse Vata Bay the best time to participate in this growing activity. Or you could try wakeboarding, where riders rise out of the water when towed by a boat.


For kitesurfing, head to Méridien Beach in Nouméa, where locals gather after work. Maître Island, off the coast of Nouméa, is particularly well suited to all levels thanks to a nearly two-kilometre reef, while the waves of Ténia Island make it ideal for freestyle. With its vast reef, Poé Beach is loved by kitesurfers of all levels.



Although surfing isn’t the most common board sport in New Caledonia, it’s still widely enjoyed, with traditional surfing, shortboarding and longboarding all available. You’ll just need to take a boat to reach the barrier reef to access the waves and navigate the passes and dead-ends.Between May and September, conditions are ideal for waves up to four metres tall with almost perfect wind conditions. In the mid-summer, swells are smaller, but still make for great sessions.


One of the most reputed spots is at Bourail, off the beach of La Roche Percée, with a panel of surfing waves at the pass. Gouaro and Snorky are two right-breaking spots, but you can also surf the three left-breaking spots at Secret, les Ronfleurs and Ile Verte. Other spots are also available nearby, perfect for beginners and a bit calmer.



Sailing is part of the Caledonians DNA and locals spend hours or days at sea whenever they can. Whether it’s in a catamaran, canoe or even a motorboat, the lagoon is perfect for cruising, relaxing and discovery. Visitors can rent a boat from Port Moselle Bay in Nouméa or Koumac and head out into the Pacific to discover the Deep South, the northern lagoon, Isle of Pines or the Loyalty Islands.


Under the guidance of an experienced skipper, you can explore islets that are still wild, crossing paths with dolphins, turtles and dugongs. From July to September, humpback whales can be spotted off the south of the Grand Terre and a catamaran from Prony Bay can put you close to the action.


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Written by: Jon Underwood
Published: 17 July 2017

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