New Caledonia

kitesurfing new caledonia

Hello. In all the madness surrounding our current state of affairs, I realised that I’ve seriously neglected the blog. My bad. It’s a bit of a time warp to look at the last post. From Fiji to now, where we’re sorting out how to live in Australia for the next six months (btw we made it to Oz), a whole lot of stuff has gone down. Boat projects continue, seas have been crossed. I feel like I spent an entire month doing paperwork, and somewhere in between we went to New Caledonia. I should probably talk a little bit about that, because we had a really good time.

The time we spent there seems to have gone by in a blink. Roll your eyes if you want, but six weeks is pretty quick for us. We knew we’d be in and out, so we set some reasonable parameters to make the most of our stay and knocked a few choice destinations off the agenda- no Loyalties, no Isle of Pines. But really we stopped in New Cal for one very specific reason, one that didn’t involve going to either of those places anyway:

Kitesurfing. Yeah baby.

Even with the water being *much* colder than anticipated, we got a record-amount of kiting in. The breeze was on point while we were there, and a good number of our kiting friends were around as well. We ended up falling into an ‘eat, kite, sleep, repeat’ routine, which ticked days off the calendar like seconds on a clock, and very likely explains the lag in writing. Obvious fun factor aside, consecutive sessions allowed us both some really great progress; Matt got a lot of time in the air, and I went from a few bad days in Fiji to staying upwind and transitioning. I even got some airtime myself, though not on purpose.

The nature of the islets just off Nouméa make for an ideal kiting environment, each protected from any excessive swell by their own micro-reef. The convenient combination of waist-deep water and an onshore breeze all but eliminated the need for a rescue boat. This was really the first time Matt and I could go out together. Usually he has to keep a constant eye on me. Big step.

kitesurfing new caledonia

slingshot kitesurfing

kitesurfing new caledonia

boosted kitesurfing new caledonia

The breeze did back off some days. While I managed to get the tiniest amount of varnishing done, we mostly used them as an excuse to indulge in fine French wines and cheeses. These were, ironically, some of the more affordable items in the grocery store.

Though we didn’t have time to get up into the mountains, much of New Cal’s magic lies in the water. A number of zones within the southern lagoon are marine reserves, and the Navy maintains a whole fleet of moorings available to the public at no cost. Save the coral! The abundance of sea life was something we marvelled at daily. Breakfast was usually shared with the remoras (they especially seem to like pretzels), and rays and blacktips would skirt just inches under the paddleboard. The sheer number of turtles was astonishing (we quite literally had to dodge them while kiting), and the sea snake population could’ve been described as nightmarish if they weren’t so docile.

Fishing, however, was tricky. We often found ourselves in no-fishing zones. But whenever we could we’d drop a line into the water or jump in with the spear guns. We made out just fine as far as catches go, but high reports of ciguatera scared us off some of the larger species. Back in the water they went.

remoras

sailboats on moorings in new caledonia

We found waves to surf. Good ones. The locals were amicable enough, but concerned about their breaks being blown up online and not happy to see cameras. So that’s that. Spot X, check.

We came, we kited, we drank a lot of wine. The last few days we spent further north where everything is a bit quieter. Departure was delayed nearly two weeks; our weather window crumbled overnight, so we tucked ourselves away from the city to wait. New Cal authorities are thankfully understanding when it comes to the whole sailing/weather thing, but we opted to keep a low profile. Plus there was just as much kiting and surfing to be had in the meantime.

wave kitesurfing new caledonia

calm anchorage at sunrise in new caledonia

All in all, New Caledonia is a stunning country. The mountains are awe-inspiring and the water is as clear as it could ever be. Surely you could spend an entire season there and unlock more of its secrets. But even a quick trip leaves little for want. In Nouméa you have your choice of everything from Pacific inspired haute cuisine to late-night street food, nightlife and nature walks. Ventures further from the city will reveal more indigenous villages, uninhabited islands, lakes and waterfalls. Hmmm, it’s almost as if we miss it… but that’s enough for now. Au revior, New Cal, maybe see you again someday!

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