New Caledonia is a French territory situated in the South Pacific between Fiji and Australia. As with their other dependencies in the Pacific, the French have turned New Caledonia into a tropical version of France, in the process both exploiting and supporting the local Melenesian population. The end result for the surfer is a civilised but expensive surf paradise, with the hassles of dealing with a third world population replaced by those of dealing with the French!
The waves Offshore reef surfing at its best. Powerful swells from the Roaring Forties and from cyclones spinning in the Coral Sea pound the dozens of spots along the outer reefs.
Hot spots With over 2,000 kilometres of reefs to choose from, there are plenty of waves to discover, many of them unsurfed. Depending on the wind and swell direction, you could be surfing anything from fun hot-dog rights to cavernous grinding lefts. Put your faith in the local knowledge of the captain of the Raid N’Gatahari, a locally based yacht that will give you more surf time than any other option.
Accommodation The Raid N’Gatahari is a luxury eight-berth yacht with enough home comforts even for international jet-setter Gabe Davies. Prices work out at about £100 per person per day, with food and beer included. Yep, it’s expensive, but staying on the island and boating out to the reefs every day will cost you even more.
Food and drink Baguettes, croissants, fish and whatever else the Raid N’Gatahari has aboard. As for drinks, it’s basically the same as in France – cafe au lait, wine, and of course extraordinarily over-priced crap beer in pathetically small glasses.
Nightlife Spirited discussions with your boat mates about French nuclear testing policies, and how expensive the drinks are in the clubs in Noumea (the island’s capital)
Don’t miss The Boat.
Hazards Again the biggest danger will be from the waves themselves. Broken equipment, reef cuts and general batterings are all common occurrences. There are a fair few nasties in the water too – urchins, sea snakes, scorpionfish and reef sharks. More immediate dangers include cutting your mouth on stale baguettes, and explosions of frustration when communicating with French people!
How to get there Flights to New Caledonia (with Air New Zealand) start from £924 – well, what did you expect!
Additional info For general info about surfing on the island, contact the New Caledonia Surfing Association on 00 687 262184. For info about trips on the Raid N’Gatahari contact the owner, Denis Verhoeven, on 00 687 260444.