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Monday, February 2, 2015

New Caledonia: an underwater playground for diving enthusiasts


Photo: Martial Dosdane


NEW CALEDONIA AN UNDERWATER PLAYGROUND FOR DIVING ENTHUSIASTS

Explore the diving hot spots of New Caledonia

New Caledonia is an underwater playground and a diver's delight on Australia's doorstep. Situated in the world's largest lagoon, the second largest barrier reef and home to one of the largest nature preserves on Earth, it is no wonder New Caledonia has so many diving hot spots.

Le Parc Naturel de la Mer de Corail or 'the Natural Park of the Coral Sea' is New Caledonia's nature preserve covering more than 1.3 million square kilometres and consisting of around 450,000 hectares of coral reefs, 25 species of marine mammals, 48 shark species and five species of sea turtles. With thousands of incredible coral reefs, gardens and atolls and a huge range of dive sites to choose from, here are our top tips for a mix of wreck dive sites, cave dives and incredible marine life.

Photo: Pierre Laboute

Spectacular pyramid reef formations
The Baie de Prony (Prony Bay) sits at the southern end of the main island, Grand Terre in New Caledonia. The landscape around the bay is characteristic of southern New Caledonia with the earth's vivid red/orange colour. Prony Bay itself is rich in coral, unique shells, and marine life, and is a popular stopover and anchorage for yachts. Discovered in 1979, the bay is also home of L'aiguille de Prony, or the Needle of Prony, a spectacular pyramidal reef formation sitting at 35 metres depth, 15 metres at the base and rising to just six metres below the surface. Divers liken it to a bell tower of a cathedral.

Daïman Reef at Hienghène
Located in the North Province of New Caledonia is Daïman Reef, a cavernous rift where divers must sink deep before swimming into a tunnel and emerging into an area bustling with marine life. The dive continues into the void and along a high wall, with the seabed more than 55 metres below. Divers find themselves accompanied by parrotfish, tuna, barracuda, tazars, and the occasional grey shark. Between October and November is recommended for the best underwater show. The garden of Eden on the Isle of Pines For the more experienced diving enthusiasts, head to the Isle of Pines. Here you divers find a series of rifts between five and 50 metres deep create an undulating expedition between canyons, grottos, tunnels and swim-throughs caves with an abundance of marine life. Recommended for experienced divers only.

Dieppoise wreck in Nouméa
It's no wonder that Noumea, being the capital of New Caledonia, has some fascinating wreck dive sites. The last wooden patrol boat of the Royal Navy that sunk in 1988 has now become a superb dive site. Located just 26 metres underwater and with myriads of fish and new reef systems formed around the wreck, this site is a great dive for beginners and easily accessible from Noumea.

As one of the closest overseas destinations to Australia, New Caledonia is an ideal destination for Australians looking for a Pacific holiday with a difference, converse in French in a Pacific Island paradise.





For more information on New Caledonia visit www.haveitall.com.au.


















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