New Caledonia

Thousands of miles from France, a French territory rests on an archipelago in the sun-drenched South Pacific seas. New Caledonia, more commonly known to the locals as Nouvelle-Calédonie, is best described as a Melanesian island with a touch of Parisian sophistication. It’s an unusual fusion of culture that is unique to that set of islands. We spent six days in the capital city of Noumea, a quiet town that sits on a large peninsula with the world’s largest lagoon, picturesque bays, and sandy beaches.

view from hotel balcony

An ocean view of a coastline in Noumea.

girls

The girls standing in front of the French flag.

Where there's a tree, there will be two girls.

Where there’s a tree, there’s two girls. There are no climbing trees at jobsite, so the girls are always on the lookout for a tree to climb when we are off site.

Chris and Kylee riding in a sea kayak, and Ally paddling on a paddle board, in Noumea

Chris and Kylee riding in a sea kayak, and Ally paddle-boarding in Noumea.

swimming

While in Noumea, we took a half-day jet skiing tour to two outlying islands. On the way to the first island, we stopped to take a short break and to let the girls swim in the vibrant turquoise waters.

stunning

The colors of the sky and ocean in this picture are more true to what we saw and experienced. Our camera rarely captures what our eyes see. Either way, the views are nothing short of stunning! The man on the jet ski was our tour guide.

island

We took an hour break on this small, uninhabited island, which gave us plenty of time to walk around it, swim, snorkel, and enjoy the scenery.

Snorkeling during an island break

Ally and Kylee trying to spot fish.

Other than the outstanding food (the Noumeans are culinary artists), our most defining time in New Caledonia was a day trip to Île des Pins (Isle of Pines); a small island 110km southeast of Noumea. Imagine a fragmented piece of Alaska in the warm, tropical waters of the Coral Sea. If that doesn’t sound magnificent enough, imagine white sandy beaches and natural pools of seawater where the spectacular display of the Northern Lights radiate from beneath the water’s surface. Its raw beauty was breathtaking!

We took a two-and-a-half hour ferry ride from Noumea to the island. Our tour guide, Jeankri, took this photo right after we arrived on the island and met up with him. His calm, relaxed demeanor exemplified the locals perspective of life on the island -

We took a two-and-a-half hour ferry ride from Noumea to the island. Our tour guide, Jeankri, took this photo of us right after we arrived on the island. Jeankri’s calm, relaxed demeanor exemplified the locals’ perspective of life on the island – “A quoi bon le compter, il ne s’arrêtera jamais.” Which means, “Why measure the time, it will never end.”

Beauty

Our first stop was to Baie de Oro; revered as one of New Caledonia’s most treasured destinations. With Araucarua pines soaring above pristine sandy beaches, it is one of the most beautiful places in the south-pacific. FYI – Araucarus pines are the living Christmas trees that you can buy at Home Depot or Walmart during the holidays. Here, in their native environment, they grow to be massive and beautiful.

Posing for a picture in a sea-water river.

Jeankri took another photo of us walking through the sea-water river pictured above.

Girls snorkeling

After a short walk up the river and through a forest trail, we reached earth’s sweet spot – Baie de Oro’s la Pascine Naturelle. The large body of crystal clear water, embedded in coral, is the islands best spot for snorkeling. It is filled with an extensive variety of colorful fish, coral, and other sea creatures.

The statue of St Maurice (in the background), commemorates the arrival of the first missionaries on the island. The statue is surrounded by hand carved totems made by the numerous clans of the island.

After leaving Baie de Oro, we went to La statue de St. Maurice. The statue of St Maurice (in the background), commemorates the arrival of the first Christian missionaries to the island. The statue is surrounded by hand carved totems made by the numerous clans of the island.

An alcove near the Bae de Saint-Joseph, where locals continue to build traditional canoes.

A  naturally sheltered alcove where locals continue to build traditional boats.

Kylee has a cute habit of holding her pointer finger up and saying,

Kylee has a funny habit of holding her index finger up and saying, “Jus’ sec”, if she needs to pause. We found her patron saint in the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption church. The church was built in 1860 by French prisoners, and is still used today.

nataiwatch

Jeankri recommended Kunie Kaa, at Nataiwatch, for lunch. It’s outdoor, sand in your feet setting is known for serving “plats du jours,” which means dish of the day.

escargot

Every day, the chef gets up early to catch and procure fresh ingredients for the day’s menu.  With the ingredients in hand, he returns to the kitchen to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The only standard (and best) part of the menu is escargot, which is made from a special variety of snail that only lives wild on that island. These snails, living or cooked, can’t be transported off the island. High penalties are given to those who try to take the snails (or the empty shells) with them.

bae

Our last stop, before departing Ile de Pins, was to Baie de Kanumera for more swimming and snorkeling.

Kylee

Kylee, our snorkeling aficionado, has come a long way from her first snorkeling adventure in Hawaii. She wouldn’t even get off the boat because she was afraid of running in to the people who stole Nemo.

After leaving New Caledonia, we flew to Brisbane to visit Australia’s Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. We spent four days in Byron Bay and five days in Noosa Heads. It was all about shopping, surfing, walking along beaches, hiking through national forests, exploring farmers’ markets, eating good food, and getting two black eyes*. The simple things.

Byron Bay

The best thing about the sand in Byron Bay, other than its soft, powdery texture, is that it squeaks.

Pic

Chris and the girls taking a break from the squeaky sand.

minyon falls

A thirty-minute drive from Byron Bay, on a single track road with hairpin turns, is Minyon Falls, a scenic waterfall with a multitude of hiking trails around it.

hike

We left the observation deck (viewing the falls from the top) and began our hike along the lower falls trail. Ally instinctively started carrying our picnic bag like Papuan women carry their nokens (traditional bags).

hike

The girls crossing a river.

Selfie

Yet another one of Ally’s wildlife selfies. This time, it was with a bush turkey. They are found everywhere along Australia’s east coast, digging up groomed and manicured landscaping. This one was on its way to the ladies room when Ally took her photo before she attacked her ankles.

*Ally and Kylee rented surfboards in Noosa Heads the day before we left. Unfortunately, Ally’s surfboard flipped out of the water and hit Chris in the face. He received a gnarly laceration on the bridge of his nose and two black eyes. Immediately after muttering an expletive, he kept a pretty good sense of humor about it.

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9 Responses to New Caledonia

  1. Don Doody says:

    Thanks for that wonderful and fascinating email. Your children ( and both of you ) are getting a life experience few are fortunate to get. Ally is catching up to you Kris. Boy has she grown! I won’t recognise either of the girls by the time you return.

    Thanka again,,

    Don

    • Kriste Rose says:

      Yes, she has gown! In fact, she has grown 4″ since we started keeping track a year ago. I’m afraid you may not recognize them when we get back. Or, Chris, for that matter. He’s a little more grey. Haha!! Hope all is well there!

  2. I’m so happy for you that you are such amazing experiences. Love you, Claire

    • Kriste Rose says:

      It really has been an adventure!

      A big congratulations to you and your family! We heard the great news from Wendy last week. So exciting! You’ll be a great grandmother!

    • Kriste Rose says:

      I need to rephrase my response (Chris informed me that my comment aged you three decades). I should say, “You’ll be a wonderful grandmother!” Haha!! 😉

  3. Rania says:

    WOW!!! That is beautiful!!
    allyyyyyy!!! you are “stretching” a lot LOL

    Poor chris hope he is okay now
    Kylee LOVE you
    Miss you guys ❤ ❤ ❤

  4. Kriste Rose says:

    They are both stretching a lot, but you can really see it in Ally. She’s grown 4″ in a year, and Kylee has grown 2″. You may not recognize them when we get back. I sometimes don’t even recognize them from a distance. Crazy! Love and miss you, too!

  5. Cheri says:

    Everybody is right. Your pictures look like a chamber tourist pamphlet with models on it. (That’s you guys). You do a great job finding the nice spots for the pictures. Awesome. I love touring the world with your family. Caden got his mission call to Sacramento California on Friday. He leaves July 15. His friend is going to Edmonton, Canada. His name is Cairo Nerdin from Vernal.

    • Kriste Rose says:

      That’s exciting news for your family and Caden! I can’t believe we’re so old; I miss our college days. We will be in Idaho Falls sometime this June/July. Are you making a trip home this summer? If you are, let me know.

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