Duck Island (sans canards)

Nouméa, New Caledonia

After what can only be described as “a pretty rough start” to our time in Nouméa, we rose with the sun on day two and decided that things could only get better. Last night’s restaurant disaster was offset with fresh croissants for petit dejeuner and a particularly harsh review on Trip Advisor (Le Roof’s most read to date!). With vengeance wreaked, and happy bellies, we were soon off into town to explore Nouméa’s Centre Ville where we spent the day mooching about the markets, listening to music/people watching at Place des Cocotiers (Coconut Square), and despite promises not to wander off, continuously losing each other. For afters we visited a small island off the coast of Anse Vata bay that we had scoped out previously. This island is called île aux Canards but from the mainland it’s hard to see why. Time for an adventure!

Whilst Nouméa is rather windy, the sunshine is beautiful and warm. As we arrived at the beach we realised that the boat wouldn’t give us much protection from the ocean spray so we geared up for some involuntary refreshment!

The boat trip was a rocky one and the windsurfers took great pleasure in using our waves as ramps. Jane managed to capture some great footage of this and at some stage I’m going to pretend that it was me she was filming...

On arrival at duck island, we discovered that most of the island is a bar. What. A. Shame. (Beer please).

The dead coral around the island has been used to build low level walls around the various sun beds and umbrellas. This, I suppose, is as good a use for it as any but it’s a little arresting on first glance - are we really this relaxed about our impact on the ocean’s most colourful display?

With preserving the planet in mind, we endeavoured to take care whilst exploring the marine environment via the snorkel trail. We hired some snorkels and sun beds then headed onto the beach before being accosted by a French man who yelled some very confusing instructions at us as we headed into the water.

What a beautiful tapestry there is under the water here! The ocean is so clear but you can’t quite see the full picture until your head is underneath. We saw many fish including clownfish (Nemo from Finding Nemo), parrotfish, blue chromis, various kinds of damsel and butterflyfish, the forgetful royal blue tang (Dory from Finding and notably, not a single duck!

Given our French friend’s insistence on giving us directions, I swam for miles in the wrong direction based on what I thought he meant. It was exhausting, I nearly hit the coral about 15 times and it really ruined my relaxed island vibes. I went back in later for a different take on the snorkel trail in which I actually stuck to the path and it was really soothing.

As the evening drew closer and the island closed down, we joined a queue for the boat home. We watched more and more windsurfers take advantage of the lack of shelter from the gales that are a staple of island living. Windsurfing appears so elegant from afar but I’m sure it takes incredible strength and agility to make it so. An over-friendly local offered me a beer as we got onto the boat (and by offered I mean tried to force me to take a beer), I declined because I thought I may be in some way indebted to him and he’d follow me around forever like a puppy.

The boat trip back was a even more turbulent than the way out but as it happens, New Caledonia had a much more vicious journey in store for us...

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