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Since Île Nou was reconnected to Noumea and transformed into a peninsula renamed Nouville, the municipality's largest islet is Sainte-Marie. The best known, as it is also the nearest, is Île aux Canards (and not Îlot Canard). Îlot Maître is the one most visited by sailing boats. And Îlot Amédée, which is home to the lighthouse controlling the entrance to the Boulari channel, is the one with the most "tricots rayés" - striped sea snakes - per square centimetre !
But the Noumean coastline is also surrounded by a string of inshore islands and islets: Îlot Lassalle, just off the Tina peninsula, to the north-east; the Fourmis islets that include Petit Fourmi (or Îlot Kuru) and Grand Fourmi (or Îlot Tué), off Magenta bay, to the east; Îlot Brun, connected by a bridge to Pointe Chaleix and which closes off Baie de l'Orphelinat to the west; Îlot Freycinet, an extension of the Koumourou neighbourhood; and the islets of Tindu and Kaméré, to the north of Ducos.
To this first list one must add the lagoon's coral islets which are greatly appreciated by recreational sailors, boardsports enthusiasts and nature lovers. For example Goéland, a special nature reserve which is closed to the public between November and February, is the nesting season for the Roseate Tern, 10 % of the worldwide population of which live in New Caledonia, or then there's Signal and Larégnère, other little corners of paradise less than an hour's boat ride away from Noumea, where you can dive in the stunning underwater depths.
All of the islets are administered by the South Province.
Île aux Canards - Duck Island
You can get to it in two minutes by water taxi from the Anse Vata outdoor activities centre or, slightly less rapidly, by glass-bottomed boat, which you catch from below the Fun Beach restaurant at the northern end of the same Anse Vata cove. Île aux Canards is the ideal spot to escape from it all without going very far from the city. There are several options once you're there: taking a dip in the sea or swimming, basking on a sunbed in the shade of a parasol on the part of the islet specially developed for visitors, or having a meal or a drink under the traditional thatched faré. Or head off on one of the three discovery trails :
- The botanical trail which highlights the shrubby vegetation.
- The art trail where around a hundred original artworks by Oceanic sculptors and visual artists are on display.
The underwater trail, a 400-metre route in shallow water, close to the beach. Yellow buoys mark the route to follow. A fish identification chart (waterproof card) illustrates dozens of fish that are easy to spot – parrotfish, clown fish, butterfly fish, angelfish etc. – as they swim about in the middle of coral colonies of every colour. This unforgettable experience, which is accessible to everyone, will get you exploring an extraordinarily rich natural aquarium and will make you more aware of its preservation.
At weekends, volunteers from the environmental information centre (CIE) will be there to answer all your questions.
Île aux Canards has been classed as a protected nature reserve. There is a strict ban on any fishing, spearfishing or underwater fishing there.
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To know more
- Île aux Canards Bookings/Information : 46 92 84
Water taxis (crossings made throughout the day) : Plages Loisirs – 80, Promenade Roger-Laroque – Anse Vata – Tel.: 26 90 00 – email@example.com
Guided tour of the sculpture park: first Sunday of every month from 09:00 to 11:00, by reservation on 84 29 69
Centre d’Initiation à l’Environnement (Environmental Information Centre volunteers for the underwater trail) : 27 40 39
Lying some 7.5 km from Port Moselle and about 4.5 km from Anse Vata, aligned behind Île aux Canards, Îlot Maître is set right in the heart of a 200-hectare marine reserve with a very high fish population. It is fringed with white sandy beaches, ideal for a little dip at high tide. Amidst the coral outcrops, diving enthusiasts can explore the marvels of the underwater flora and fauna. This little island is also a favourite spot for kite-surfers and also sailors from Noumea, who regularly moor their sailboats here for the whole week-end. Other people can take a shuttle boat from Port Moselle, or a water taxi from Anse Vata.
A luxury hotel, the Escapade, is located in the centre of the islet. It has two types of accommodation: garden view bungalows in the midst of the vegetation and over-water bungalows, with a superb view of the setting sun. The hotel has a swimming pool and bar restaurant for its clients' use and offers watersports activities.
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To know more
- Water taxis (crossings made throughout the day): Plages Loisirs – 80, Promenade Roger-Laroque – Anse Vata – Tel.: 26 90 00 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Details :There are three Sainte-Marie islets framing the bay of the same name, located south-east of Noumea: Îlot Sainte-Marie (or Grand Sainte-Marie or Ile N'Géa); Îlot Uéré (or Petit Sainte-Marie) and the more modest Îlot N'do.
Îlot Sainte-Marie has several beaches used for camping or lunch spots by Noumeans and, in particular, by pupils from the Côte Blanche sailing centre. It is an ideal site for introducing beginners to the art of sailing and navigation.
Îlot Uéré has a single beach in a small cove that is used for mooring pleasure boats and is very popular with jet skiers.
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This islet lies a little under 13 nautical miles (about 24 km) south-south-east of Port Moselle, before the Boulari channel, one of the main points where ships can enter New Caledonia's lagoon. Îlot Amédée is famous for its lighthouse which stands 56 metres high (one of the highest in the world) – at the top of a flight of 247 steps up the inside of its metal structure – and offers a panoramic view over the magnificent lagoon.
The lighthouse was ordered and given to the colony by Emperor Napoleon III and officially opened on 15 November 1865, his wife's birthday. Having been built and exhibited in La Villette, Paris, it was then brought to Noumea in separate parts, before being assembled on the islet. In clear weather, the light from the Amédée lighthouse can be seen for up to 32 nautical miles (nearly 60 km).
Lying in an area classed as a marine reserve, this islet, which you can reach in 45 minutes aboard the Mary D from Port Moselle, is particularly renowned for its underwater world. There are two wrecks nearby: the Dieppoise and Ever Prosperity.Return to contens
Îlot Signal, opposite the Dumbéa channel, lies 8 nautical miles (about 15 km) west of Noumea and about 45 minutes away by boat. It was here that Captain Tardy de Montravel had a 10 metre-high triangular pyramid built, made out of wood and corals, that was used to signal (hence its name) to ships heading to Port-de-France (Noumea) through the Dumbéa channel. Today, a small pathway has been laid out. This allows you to do a tour of the islet and see the remains of this former beacon. However, take care not to scare any seabirds that may be nesting under or near the wooden walkway.
There are many coral formations encircling the islet which is classed as a nature reserve. You can discover a great variety of corals there and every type of fish. If you are not adept at snorkelling or scuba diving, you can bask on Signal's beautiful fine sandy beaches or relax in the shade of the traditional thatched farés.
As in every reserve, it is essential that you show respect for the environment, do not fish or hunt or try to catch anything, do not take specimens of any kind from on land or out of the water, do not light any fires other than in the areas specially provided for that purpose and, of course, take all your rubbish back to Noumea!Return to contents
Îlot Larégnère lies 7 nautical miles (about 13 km) west-south-west of Noumea, 40 minutes away by water taxi. With its fine sandy beaches, crystal-clear water and extraordinary underwater scenery, this is a destination much loved by Noumeans at weekends and in the holidays. It is possible to pitch your tent here, alongside one of the traditional thatched farés. Of course, fins, mask and snorkel are essential accessories before you sail for Larégnère. Clown fish, butterfly fish, angelfish, parrotfish and so on are amongst the 130 varieties of fish that have been recorded in this nature reserve. "Tricots rayés", or striped sea snakes, turtles and black-tipped reef sharks may also cross your path, especially if you go beyond the islet's coral barrier reef to swim over the drop-off, in water that is a maximum of 7 metres deep. It is a superb spectacle.
On Larégnère you may also spot seabirds, such as the Black-naped Tern and Wedge-tailed Shearwater. But take care not to disturb them. As in every reserve, it is essential that you show respect for the environment, do not fish or hunt or try to catch anything, do not take specimens of any kind from on land or out of the water, do not light any fires other than in the areas specially provided for that purpose and, of course, take all your rubbish back to Noumea!Return to contents