This blog on New Caledonia is for those of you who ever wondered what life on a tiny island in the South Pacific might be like. Tired of bracing winter winds, the stress of an inner city or simply dreaming of a life change? This is a blog about what happens when, in the words of Yogi Berra, "you come to a fork in the road, [and] take it".

31 December 2006

Maré: The Second Largest Loyalty Island

Photo by Laurent Guiader, 2006.

We began our tour of the Loyalty Islands in Maré (pictured above) on 15 December. We stayed three days and nights in a little village called Cengeite (a coastal village in the southwest). The second largest Loyalty Island, Maré is only 42 km (26 miles) long and 16-33 km (10-20 miles) wide.

From the start, we were impressed by Maré's wildness. I love the west of Ireland and Brittany for their unspoiled beauty. And I used to think that Ile des Pins was cut off from the rest of the world. We found Maré to be even more remote.

There are no signs indicating where you are or how to get to various sites. There are few cars, a handful of tiny hole-in-the-wall grocery stores, a few gas stations, a medical centre (but no hospital), a pharmacy, one bank (where the ATM is located inside - and thus only available the few hours the bank is open) and two post offices. There are some 6 900 people of mainly Melanesian heritage (less than 2% of the population is of European ancestry). They make up some 20 tribes who speak one tribal language (Nengone) along with French.

Despite its wildness and its remoteness, we found plenty to do on the island - tales of which are soon to come...

Ororé lu ("See you tomorrow" in Nengone).


Jo said...

WOW!! Picture me envious! I loved the photo of you on the beach Julie!
Gloomy here in Minneapolis- 40 degrees and 3 days of rain has just turned to snow!
Perhaps we should just pack our bags and head for Tontouta!?!!

Julie said...

Definitely! COME!

Thi H N said...

The underground water hole that your guide took you, what is this called?
How long would it take to walk from a tribal accomodation (Oasis de Bel air between Tadine and the antural aquarium) to Plage de Pede?
Thank you!

Julie Harris said...

I'm so sorry, Thi, but this was 10 years ago now, and I can't remember. But do ask if you visit - ask the locals. They can help you! And I just saw in a documentary that Maré will be the first island to disappear of the Loyalty Islands, so do try to get there. Best of luck - Julie

Thi H N said...

You mean it wont be part of France anymore or we just can't fly/boat there?

Julie Harris said...

It will be the first to slip into the sea - no one will be able to live on or visit it.