Mare, New Caledonia
The southernmost of New Caledonia’s Loyalty Islands and a former coral atoll, Mare (known locally as ‘Nengone’) is characterised by ragged cliffs, natural pools, grottos, white sands and a translucent reef-fringed lagoon. Rustic and undeveloped, the island is new to tourism and respect of its people and environment are expected.
Approximately 40 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide, and divided into several districts from Tadine in the west to La Roche in the east, it is home to around 7,000 predominantly Melanesian inhabitants. The culture is a blend of French and Kanak, with its own unique Nengone dialect, taboos and traditions which date back 40,000 years.
Mare (pronounced Ma’ray) welcomed its first cruise ship in 2012 and has a relatively small number of visits a year. The main attractions include its beautiful beaches, natural pools and local markets. Ships anchor north of Wabao Point in Tadine Bay, which serves as a natural harbour.
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How to Get Around
From Tadine transport is required to explore the island. A shuttle bus is available to take passengers to and from popular Yejele Beach. Motorised scooters, bicycles and canoes can also be hired from the locals.
Travel times from Tadine
By shuttle bus
- 20 minutes to Yejele Beach (approximately $15)
- Currency - the local currency in Mare is the Central Pacific Franc (CFP). Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 francs. Notes come in denominations of 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 francs. Australian Dollars are widely accepted, though smaller notes are preferred and change will be given in CFP.
- Time Zone - Mare uses New Caledonia Time (NCT), which is 11 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+11).
- Weather - the weather in Mare is hot and tropical, with maximum daytime temperatures reaching 29 degrees Celsius in January and February, and 23 degrees Celsius in July. Rainfall is heaviest during the warm season, which lasts from November to April.
- Yejele Beach - a short bus ride from the welcome point in Tadine, Yejele Beach is the island’s most popular spot for cruise passengers. With a backdrop of coconut palms, pines and lush jungle, it boasts a pristine stretch of white sand and limestone-filtered waters filled with coral, which are perfect for snorkelling. Local vendors on the beach sell coconut milk, sweet avocado and fresh local seafood. There are also palm-leaf changing rooms available.
- Natural Aquarium - situated approximately 2 kilometres south of Tadine towards Eni is a translucent shallow pool set in tranquil bushland known as the ‘Natural Aquarium’. Although seemingly cut off from the ocean by rocks, the waters are frequently replenished and are filled with a fascinating array of tropical fish as well as turtles.
- The Bone Hole - located between Tenane and La Roche in Lio, the Trou de Bone (Bone Hole) is a 30-metre wide circular abyss formed in the coral landscape by rain and seawater. Forty metres deep, it is equipped with a guardrail to protect the safety of visitors. A spectacular natural sight, Banyan roots climb down the walls to reach the water at the bottom.