The world’s second biggest coral reef, and some of the most beautiful Pacific Ocean islands

New Caledonia boasts a huge lagoon, circled by a 1600km-long coral reef, listed since 2008 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the third most extensive reef system in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the Belize Barrier Reef.

It hosts a high diversity of marine ecosystems, with reefs teeming with tropical fish. There are 1600 species, including anemonefish, angelfish and maori wrasse, green sea turtles, and more than 350 kinds of colorful coral.

It is also one of the very best destinations for snorkeling with large marine creatures, such as dugongs. New Caledonia hosts the third-largest population of dugongs on the planet. You will also see manta rays and sharks.

Snorkeling Phare Amédée
Amédée Island, where you can swim with green sea turtles and discover a nice coral reef, is one of the most popular islets around Nouméa.

With a 24 000km² lagoon and a 3400km-long coastline, snorkeling can be done almost everywhere in New Caledonia, with thousands of potential snorkeling spots.

In Nouméa, free shore snorkeling is possible in Baie des Citrons and Chateau Royal Beach. The many islets scattered throughout the lagoon, less than a one-hour boat trip from the capital city, are more preserved.

Îlot Canard (Duck Island), located only a 10-minute water taxi ride from Anse Vata, is the most popular islet. It is equipped with an underwater trail, which is an original way to explore the spot and discover Caledonian marine life.

Tricot rayé de Nouvelle-Calédonie à l'Îlot Signal
Sea kraits are common in many spots of the archipelago. Here, a New Caledonian sea krait at Îlot Signal, close to Nouméa.

Not far from Îlot Canard, Îlot Maître is another popular islet in Noumea’s area. It is equipped with a hotel with a swimming pool and water bungalows overlooking the coral reef.

Nevertheless, if you have to choose only one islet to visit from Nouméa, we recommend the iconic Îlot Amédée. At the foot of its historic lighthouse, you’ll snorkel with many peaceful green sea turtles in a paradisiacal setting.

Some local companies offer snorkeling day or half-day tours departing from Nouméa to other islets, including Îlot Signal (a marine preserve just 15km west from Nouméa), Îlot Goéland (a protected area also some 15km from Nouméa), Îlot Redika and Îlot Larégnère.

Most tours costs between 30 to 50 euro per person, including drinks and sometimes lunch on the islets.

Loche à l'Ilot Canard, Nouméa
Huge groupers sightings are common at Îlot Canard marine reserve, only a few minutes boat from Nouméa (here, a leopard coralgrouper).

The Loyalty Islands, Lifou, Maré and Ouvéa, and the Isle of Pines feature some of New Caledonia’s most popular snorkeling spots. These dream islands, located off Grande Terre and accessible by boat or plane, are little pieces of paradise.

On the Isle of Pines, don’t miss La Piscine Naturelle in Oro Bay, a natural “aquarium” fringed with araucaria pine trees.

On the limestone island of Lifou, the best options for snorkeling are in Jinek Bay and at the foot of Jokin Cliffs. Both of these areas are with beautiful coral, vibrant marine life, and crystal clear water.

In Ouvéa, the Southern Pleiades, well-known for its manta rays population, is considered the best snorkeling spot.

Snorkeling in New Caledonia
The Isle of Pines (left, fire clownfish at La Piscine Naturelle) and Lifou (right, Baie de Jinek) hosts some of the best snorkeling in New Caledonia.

Further north, Tibarama Island, off Poindimié, Hienga Island, a 15-minutes boat trip from Hienghène, and Ténia Islet in Boulouparis are all great options.

Check this video 👇👇👇 and dive into the world of our New Caledonia snorkeling adventures! Look at these huge sea turtles floating peacefully at the Pacific Ocean’s surface, mere feet from our faces! Filmed in Grande Terre, Lifou, Isle of Pines, Duck Island and Amédée Island. The name of the snorkeling spot where the images have been shot is mentioned on each sequence.



When to go snorkeling New Caledonia

Snorkeling is possible year-round in New Caledonia. However, the warmer season does occur from November until April and brings a greater chance of rain and wind. May through October is slightly cooler and drier than the rest of the year, although temperatures remain fairly warm.

Water temperatures are comfortable for snorkeling, ranging from an average of 74°F/23°C during austral winter to 82°F/28°C when the water is at its warmest in January and February. March through September is the manta rays season, with the best chance to spot these fascinating fish in New Caledonian waters.

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