Flying into the French Territory of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean, you’ll cross the barrier reef and enter the world’s largest lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Long and narrow like a baguette, the mountainous island is encircled by a thousand miles of thriving reefs, healthy corals and over 2,000 species of fish. The lagoon, a divers’ paradise, is home to three times more coral and fish species than the Australian Barrier Reef.
There are different landscapes on every coast, from luxuriant forests chocked with colossal 75-foot ferns to savannah and coconut groves.
The very-French and pricey capitol city, Noumea, welcomes large cruise ships from Holland America, Princess, Seabourne and P&O cruise lines. Day-trippers can buy French pate, foie gras, baguettes, cheeses, mustards, and wine. Visitors can swim, wind surf, kayak or snorkel along the beaches. Superb snorkeling, crystal-clear water and deserted white-sand beaches also lure visitors to nearby Island of Pines.
Gutsy Traveler Marybeth Bond is the nation’s preeminent travel expert for travel tips, travel advice and inspiration and founded the popular Online Travel Magazine GutsyTraveler.com.
She’s a National Geographic author of travel books and guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and she’s been featured over 1,000 times on TV, radio and print. She is a Contributor to CNN, CNN Airport Network and CNN.com.
What makes Bond “Gutsy”? She has hiked, cycled, climbed, dived and kayaked her way through more than 90 countries. Last summer Bond and her 22-year-old daughter took on a coast-to-coast challenge—3,114 miles of riding their bikes by day and blogging by night to raise funds for the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Through mountain passes in the Rockies, headwinds in Nevada, chigger bites in Kansas and wild dogs in Kentucky, they persevered and raised $52,000 for osteoporosis women’s health education.