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New Caledonia is a wonderful example of a mish mash of cultures and blends Melanesian tradition blends with French sophistication. It is made up of one main island, the Grand Terre, as well as the Loyalty Islands, the Isle of Pines as well as some others. Settled by both Britain and France during the nineteenth century, the islands were fully given over to the French. They then served as a penal colony for four decades after 1864. Agitation for independence during the 1980s and early 1990s seems to have dissipated.
The influence and relationship with France has worked over the years to create a unique sense of a country – and one that will dazzle you with its charm. Grand Terre’s East Coast is particularly exotic. The capital is Noumea, which is an effective hybrid of these cultures, offering brilliant dining options, shopping and elegance to boot. Driving outside of Noumea, you’ll find that the urban sprawl gives way to some beautiful scenery and lush landscapes of bush and river. The city's streets are buzzing with shops, pavement restaurants, nightlife, and an irresistible joie de vivre. Grand Terre is also home to the world’s largest coral lagoon. To the Southeast there is also the Ile des Pins, which has some stunning beaches for sun worshippers to explore. The east also provides the more relaxed Loyalty Islands, including Lifou and Ouvea.
The Isle of Pines is home to many excellent recreational facilities, and it’s the ideal place to walk in the country. Be sure to check out the beaches in this part of New Caledonia as well. Be sure to make time to sample some of the truly unique local cuisine. This includes a wide variety of fish, coconut, banana, taro, sweet potato and yam. Lobster, coconut crab, dugong and turtle are also traditional food sources, as is roussette, the local flying fox.