Blog about Underwater Life and Scuba Diving

Diving in the Crystal-Clear Waters of New Caledonia

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Discovered by Captain Cook in September 1774, New Caledonia, with its fabulous capital Noumea, often referred to as the ‘Paris of the South Pacific,’ is an authentic land of contrasts, and an atypical destination that attracts tenth of thousands of travelers from around the world.

A French overseas territory, Caledonia is home to the world’s largest lagoon with an overall area of 24,000 sq km and the second longest barrier reef in the world, extending over 1,600 km and featuring exceptional biodiversity, mostly endemic (over 900 varieties of coral and over 15,000 marine species), which make scuba diving a truly pleasurable activity.

The superb water conditions (temperatures hover between 21°C and 28°C seasonally) here invite a huge variety of life from migrating whales in the Southern lagoon (July-September), to turtles, mantas, dugongs, sun fish, reef sharks, queen anglefish, lobsters and more, much more. One can also find unique sea stars, nudibranchs, sea urchins, sponges and many other species still being discovered.

A hundred heavenly sites are spread across the archipelago, however, the best diving is found in the Casy Islet in the Bay of Prony, where hydrothermal activity reacting with sea water has formed the growth of a huge stalagmite, the Needle of Prony, 38 meters at height, which offers divers of all levels the assurance of a most unusual visit. Le grand coude de Kélé (Kélé elbow) in Bourail is another fantastic spot, where vertical drop of 70 meters offers views of picturesque canyons and magnificent coral.

Dive sites around the Isle de Pines range from amazingly sculpted reefs and canyons adorned with huge soft coral fans to huge bommies teeming with fish life, and the diving depths from 5-50m. Satan’s cave, for instance, is a mysterious fresh water underground cave which can only be reaches by a narrow underwater corridor. The Garden of Eden is another perfect choice in the Isle of Pines, recommended for experienced divers only. In this series of rifts between 5 and 50 meters deep, divers will find spectacularly beautiful grottos, tunnels and canyons teeming with colorful marine life. Other not-to-be-missed dive sites include: Epave de la Joliette (the Wreck of Joliette) in Thio, the Rift of Bayes in Poindimié, Grotte a Jean-Claude, Passe de Dumbea and Corne de Tenia to name but a few.

There is a choice of professional dive centers in New Caledonia, offering beginners courses training and certification for discovery dives, caving, night dives and photo dives. Full equipment is available for hire. The serenity of the ocean is accessible to all and far from mass tourism, diving in New Caledonia is wild and pristine, so hurry up to plan your next trip.

Photo credits to 1,2,3,4,5

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