Oh, baguettes and croissants – we missed you! When we left French Polynesia I vowed never to eat a baguette again (we had consumed far too many) but, of course, this silly idea wore off quickly and the cravings were in full force by the time we pulled into Noumea, New Caledonia. Being back in an overseas territory of France means we get to enjoy crème cafés, pains au chocolate, and baguettes as often as we please. The centre-ville of Noumea is a run down and disappointing but we’ve enjoyed many walks along the malecon to the nicer areas of Baie de Citrons and Anse Vata, which are lined with cafés, upscale restaurants, and a boulangerie or two.
We spent a week anchored in the Noumea harbour. There are thousands of boats here! It’s really quite incredible and made Will all excited. But after one week of internet, café hopping, and dock walking, we decided to get out of town and visit one of the nearby islands. Ilot Maitre is only 3 nautical miles outside of the city and that seemed like a manageable distance to us 😉
What a beautiful spot! We (Hydroquest and Starship) sailed on a Thursday so the weekenders had not yet arrived and we were the only two sailboats there. Despite being so close to a big city, the nature reserve of Ilot Maitre has lovely clear water, many curious turtles, and surprisingly good snorkeling with really big reef fish to gawk at. The island resort L’Escapade was welcoming and happily provided us with passwords to the free wifi connection. A dinner buffet at the resort costs 75,000 FCP (approx $85) so we passed and instead had a Mexican fiesta on HQ. We met Anne-Marie and Chris in Candaleros Bay in the Sea of Cortez almost a year and a half ago and so it seemed perfectly fitting that we enjoy our last South Pacific anchorage together, and eat Mexican food.
We’re back in the city now with the plan to check out of New Caledonia tomorrow (Monday) although we won’t set sail until Tuesday. There are quite a few boats jumping off on this weather window to Bundaberg, Brisbane, or Coff’s in Australia and some to New Zealand. Our desired destination is Coff’s Harbour, 860nm from here, and this will be our final offshore leg of the South Pacific adventure. It’s hard to believe.