||Loyalty Islands Province|
New Caledonia is situated 1500 kms east of Australia, in the heart of the South Pacific. It is an isolated group of islands with the most notable islands being Grande Terre, Loyalty Islands, Isle of Pines, and a number of smaller outlying islands.
New Caledonia is located in the second biggest coral reef in the world (after Australia) which stretches 1600 kms. This reef also completely encircles the main island Grande Terre which holds the record as the world's largest lagoon.
Grande Terre, is not only surrounded by a coral reef, but the island is also split into two climates by a spine of mountains that creates a lush eastern side with a drier west. The island has an abundance of unique plants and great beaches, which contrasts with French colonial architecture. Grande Terre is the biggest island in Oceania outside of Australia and New Zealand.
The Loyalty Islands is an archipelago of four coral atolls - Lifou, Mare, Ouvea, and Tiga that lies about 100 kilometres to the east of Grande Terra. These islands boast a preserved native culture along with great beaches and coral gardens.
South-east of Grande Terre lies the stunning Isle of Pines a place with the well deserved title, 'The jewel of the South Pacific'. Famous for its spectacular beaches, lagoons, coral, palm trees, and soaring Araucaria pines, the island is unrivalled for its beauty in New Caledonia and arguably the South Pacific. "Kunié" as it is known by the native inhabitants, is as beautiful under water as it is above. Activities here include diving, snorkelling, swimming, or just enjoying the many stunning beaches dotted around the coast.
New Caledonia forms part of the semi-submerged landmass known as Zealandia which includes New Zealand as the main landmass above seal level. In Earth's geological past, there were times when it would have been possible to walk from New Caledonia down to New Zealand.
Author & photographer: David Johnson (Virtual New Caledonia). Providing a credit or link is appreciated.
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