Explore New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands

20 Jun 2014

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Are you looking for a tropical getaway off the beaten path? Do you yearn to getaway somewhere completely new and different?

If so you, you may want to visit New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands. Found east of the French collectivity's main island, Grand Terre, the 'Iles Loyaute' are made up of three main islands, Lifou, Mare and Ouvea, as well as a smaller island, Tiga. These islands are also known by their local names, Drehu, Nengone, Iaai and Toka.

Here's a little more information about how you can discover these gorgeous isles.

Lifou/Drehu

This island is home to dramatic cliffsides, mysterious cave systems, emerald forests and vast beaches - basically what tropical dreams are made of. It's also home to warm, welcoming people who love to share their culture with visitors.

There's a wonderful range of things to do here. Experience nature's incredible natural formations with a guided visit to the Grotte du Diable, which also features a stunning cliffside lookout over the island's swathes of bright forest.

Then take a walk along the Ejengen cliffs and see the variety of thriving plant life, take a dip in a waterhole and visit local tribal villages. Along the walk there are also remnants of historic tribes.

For a dose of culture, visit a local vanilla plantation, with several local establishments open to visitors.

Mare/Nengone

Stunning natural beauty and a rich history make Mare a fascinating destination. Home to almost 7,000 inhabitants spread across 29 tribal villages, the island has a great reputation for its fruits, particularly avocado.

Visit undisturbed beaches and explore the undersea world with a spot of snorkelling. Hnale Bay, located at the foot of Cape Wabao, has particularly crystalline and pristine waters.

Be sure to walk the entire 'Le circuit des plages', which leaves from Kawe Beach and stretches for 1.5 hours along beaches, coves and coral headlines. Stroll beneath tall New Caledonian pines, beneath the canopy of the Cape Wabao forest and along the sands of Pede Bay for an unforgettable adventure.

A hike around the La Asicen Cliffs is also an experience. You'll wander past giant walls of rock, beneath Banyan trees and amongst bright parrots and other birdlife. Not to mention, you'll also pass by mysterious caves and experience panoramic views of the ocean.

Ouvea/Iaai

The Ouvea Lagoon is so beautiful and special is has been deemed World Heritage territory, so you know you're going to be greeted with sparkling turquoise waters, an abundance of fascinating marine life and long, white sandy beaches.

This island has just over 4,300 inhabitants, with only one road running from north to south, so visits here are incredibly special and untouched by tourist fervour.

Make the most of your time in these breathtaking waters by snorkelling, diving or taking a relaxing boat trip.

Take a hike to the north of the island, where standing safely on the sand you might even see sharks swimming just metres from you. See the sparsely populated island peppered with coconut trees, stretches of forest and mangrove swamps.

The island's south is also well worth a visit, featuring the stunning Lekiny Cliffs. Wander from the Lekiny tribal village to witness the stunning, sheer grey cliffs interspersed with deep caves and limestone formations. It's a truly surreal sight.

If you're eager to explore some of Ouvea's underground wonders, don't miss a trip to the south's mysterious Anubet Cave, surrounded by forest and diverse bird life.

Tiga/Toka

Tiga is about as intrepid as you can get. An small isle without running water or electricity, a small tribe lives simply here. You can get to the island via a catamaran trip, but there are no hotels or restaurants here - just village life.

If you're interested in visiting New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands, speak to a travel agent today. The paradise of your dreams awaits.