I left Vanuatu after 2,5 months living on a sailboat there and jumped on a new boat, called Irie II. The owner is from Texas and it was so nice of him to give me a ride to Noumea.
He normally sails around the world single-handed since many years and I was the first crew he ever had for a passage. I bought lots of fruit and veggies to last us for the 2-3 day crossing but the wind was so weak and it took us longer than that.
We stopped before checking into Noumea at a place called Bay of Prony. It was a lovely spot with moorings and a jetty. We took the dinghy on-shore and walked along the beach and up to an extinct volcano.
The first other sailboat that we saw while stopping at that Bay was a boat coming from Austria, that was super cool.
We continued sailing onwards to Noumea the next morning which took us another 6 hours as the current was against us and we had to motor for a bit to push us through a channel.
Port Morselle was the place that we cleared in and the docking was fun to watch as there are thousands of boats everywhere and there is not much space between them.
We tied the boat up on the dock and went to the marina office to fill out some papers. After that the bio-security guy came to take away our food. Normally they are super strict and take away all the fruits veggies, honey, cheese, etc.
But I got lucky as he didn’t even wanted to take my papayas and cabbage away. I only had to cut of the skin and the seeds and thats it! So easy 🙂
The immigration was closed already so we went to do that the next morning. To go to the immigration office we had to walk around 20 minutes through the city. It was very busy on that day as there was a Bundaberg rally going on at that time and many boats left together to do the rally to australia.
The officer at the immigration told us that we should go back to the boat and wait there for two hours for the custom officers to come but if they don’t come after 2 hours then they will never come so we walked back and waited. They didn’t show up so we finished the check-in process.
I had a run around the city the next morning and found out that there are so many homeless and drunk people everywhere. You see people smoking weed everywhere so I thought that it might be legal there but it was not.
New Caledonia belongs to the french government and they had a referendum about their independency while I was there so there was a bit of a strange atmosphere around.
Two days after I arrived I made my way to a new volunteering place in Dumbea. I had trouble finding the right bus stop to go to their farm one hour away from Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia.
Nobody could speak english when I asked around where the bus stop is, not many people in New Caledonia speak english, only french.
The family from the volunteering place I went to picked me up from the bus stop and we drove to their beautiful little house a bit outside of the town on a hill. The garden is amazing, they really worked hard in order to improve the soil on their property as the soil in New Caledonia is super dry. The family was awesome, very lovely people and their 16 year old daughter was the best cook I ever met.
She was so inspiring as she was really into healthy vegan food and she experimented a lot with cooking organic food for us.
Everyday we had great tasty food and vegan cakes. The woman has her own hypnosis studio in a small town and the man used to work as teacher but now he only focuses on his garden-project which inquires lots of work.
There was another volunteer as well while I was there, he is from Spain and was really nice too. The owner of the place just did a yoga instructor course in Thailand and was enthusiastic about that so we did yoga together and he explained us a lot what he had learned.
The work included lots and lots of weeding as the garden was overgrown and we did some planting and harvesting vegetables too! They have a great variety of veggies growing in their garden but they don’t have much fruits as the papayas and bananas in New Caledonia had diseases and all the locals had to cut lots of plants down according to the government.
After 10 days I went back to Noumea because I had a flight to catch to the Loyalty Islands which is an island group in the east of New Caledonia.
I flew to a small island called Lifou. The national airport is close to Noumea centre and I could catch a bus till there. At the airport they told me that the hand luggage can only weigh 5 kilos and mine had over 10 so I had to unpack everything again, how frustrating.
Everything was written in french at the airport so I got lucky that I boarded the right plane. The flight took only 40 minutes and when I arrived in Lifou I asked the lady at the information desk how I can get to a place called Chepenehe which is on the other side of the island she just said no. I asked again and she told me there is no bus or taxi or any transport that goes there.
My friend came from Vanuatu with his sailboat to Chepenehe and I was supposed to meet him and sail around Lifou before he sails onwards to Noumea. I walked outside of the airport and hitch hiked. I luckily got picked up by locals who drove me to Chepenehe.
The sailboat was easy to spot because it was the only sailboat in a big bay. My friend had a fantastic timing as he just came on shore to go to the supermarket and he was happy to see me again, so was I – because when I left his boat in Vanuatu he was at the hospital with bad infections and had to get flown out to australia for a proper treatment. He still had to wear a boot and crutches to walk but he seemed fine again.
He had another crew on board to help him sail to Noumea. I went snorkeling in Lifou and the corals there were awesome, I saw turtles and a reef shark too. Then we sailed around the island to a small Marina in a town called “We”.
We had the sail against the wind all the time and it was pretty rough. It was the first time that I felt a bit sick on a boat. It took 9 hours until we reached the marina and I was too happy to be there. The workers there were super chill and said it is no problem that he didn’t check in to Noumea yet and we should take our time and enjoy Lifou. They sent the bio-security people over to take away the fresh fruits and veggies and check the boat.
The owner of the boat has bicycles on his boat so we took them for a drive around. Lifou is different to the big main island as it is much more tropical with bananas, coconut and papayas growing everywhere. I discussed our sailing-plans to Brisbane, Australia with him as I was planning on sailing with him to Brisbane in November.
We managed to fix a time when we meet again in Noumea and clear out of NC.
The next day I went to a couch surfing lady who is a nurse and lives in a tribe in Lifou. She has a super cute small house and is just a very awesome and lovely person to be around. She has cute dogs who belong to the village but they love to be around her house as she gives them so much love which most of the locals in New Caledonia don’t do. She has two rooms that she puts on Air BnB so there were other guests too while I was there.
We ate veggie pizza together and the next day when she had to work I could join the other guests for a drive around the island by car. We saw amazing beaches and I loved to go for a swim at remote bays. I met the CS lady again after her work and we went to the beach and tried our lucky with wind-surfing. I never really tried wind-surfing before and there was so much wind on that day so it turned out to be more difficult as expected but it was lots of fun to try and fall and try and fall and fall again 😀
The next morning i said goodbye to the french lady before she headed to work and there were two other french girls staying at her place on that day too. They drove around the island too so they could bring me back to the other side, the place called Chepenehe again.
I jumped on my next boat there. It was the boat I was living on in Port Vila, Vanuatu for a month. The owner located it in Noumea for the cyclone season and wanted to stop in Lifou and Ouvea, another one of the Loyalty islands on the way and I could come along which was great as I have heard that sailing around the loyalty islands is just incredible.
The boat was again very easy to spot there again and I was sooo happy because the owner bought lots of papayas, mangos and bananas from Vanuatu for me as the fruits are crazy expensive in New Caledonia and the mango season was still 2 months away from when I was there.
There is a famous beach close by where we anchored in Lifou called Kiki Beach. We took the dinghy there and went for a swim as it was sooo clear water and just an awesome location to chill.
In the night we started sailing to another island, Ouvea. The wind was not very strong and we arrived in Ouvea around 10 am in the morning so we had the whole day to explore.
Ouvea is an amazing island, the place where we anchored was just incredible. 4 m deep, long bay with the clearest water. No other boat around and we went snorkeling to a place where we saw some sting rays and other fish. I cooked some veggie curry with coconut milk in the evening and I guess I am allergic to thick coconut-cream as I couldn’t sleep the night and felt super sick and the next day too.
After two days we set sail to go to Noumea. The wind was not good on that day so we had to do lots of tacking across and had a bit of a rough trip. Almost two days later we arrived at the channel where we dropped anchor for the night.
Another 6 hours sail up the coast until we arrived around sunset at a small island called Ilot Maitre. It is a famous spot for kite-surfing there and on the other side of that tiny island is a great reef for snorkeling.
That place was so packed with boats on that day and I was wondering why. It was Halloween and I didn’t think about the national holiday on the next day, so many local boat came to the island over the weekend.
We were supposed to clear in and the owner flies back to Vanuatu the next day but unfortunately the immigration and everything was closed the next day and also the day after as the decided to have a bridge day on friday to get 4 days off in total.
It was a bit frustrating for my friend as we could have stayed much longer in the loyalty islands if we would have known that but anyway. We sailed to Port Morselle and got some more food.
There was a lovely Balinese restaurant close to Port Morselle where we went to and had dinner one day, I had the best vegetarian Gado Gado which is veggies, rice and egg with tofu or tempeh and peanut-sauce.
I spent the mornings with going for runs to nice places around like some look-outs and to a national park and doing some yoga. I often prepared some lunch and we went to Bay the Citroen to go swimming and chill out.
The local market next to the marina was super expensive but the baguette was cheap and they made awesome walnut-bread which was kind of dark bread. I definitely wouldn’t recommend buying the papayas there as they look like they have diseases and some parts are already cut away and still sold for a lot of money just for papayas.
The bananas are either super over-ripe or still very green and either way very expensive too. Once I bought over-ripe ones which didn’t taste good and the other time I bought green ones which were supposed to be ripe in 3 days but after a week they were still hard and green. I paid 10 dollars for a couple of bananas which where not tasty at all.
On on of the last days we took the boat for a night to Ilot Maitre again just to get away from the busy dock at the marina. The wind was blowing with 25 knots and it was a good practice to sail out there. Lots of local boat got ready to leave back to Noumea as they all had to work the next day so it was more quiet this time to be there.
We threw anchor and chilled outside when we saw some guys coming really close to us on their electro-boat. We brought some fenders as they looked like they needed help and put their boat alongside to the sailboat. The guys in the boat rented the boat for a day in Noumea and the engine didn’t start anymore and when they threw the anchor the anchor didn’t get stuck as the wind was blowing to hard so they drifted away.
Could have been dangerous for them but fortunately we were there. They called the rental-guy who came on another electro boat with a mechanic to repair the broken engine.
They left the mechanic on the boat and drove off. We didn’t understand why they didn’t relocate the boat to a mooring or somewhere instead of leaving it at our boat but anyway. They picked the mechanic up 1-2 hours later when it was dark already and drove away with both boats as the engine couldn’t get fixed so the tied it behind the other boat.
The next day we cleared out of the country as we wanted to leave the next day in the morning to Brisbane. I moved my staff to the other boat I sailed to australia with and we cleaned the boat as the owner of the boat in Vanuatu flew back home on that day too.
I went shopping with all the left over coins and bought plenty of fruits and veggies. For dinner we walked to Bay the Citroen which is quite a walk away and had amazing Vietnamese food.
New Caledonia is an interesting country to visit, definitely recommendable if you have a sailboat. It was by far the most expensive country i have been to so far but if you stay in the local villages and away from the “big city” Noumea where lots of homeless people and drug addicts are, then it is a great country to explore. Especially if you are into kite-surfing, it’s true paradise.
I just found it frustrating not being able to communicate with most of the people there as almost nobody speaks english and everyone expects you to speak french.