Ilot Kouare, New Caledonia Lagoon
Image Courtesy of Malene Holm
If you're a yachtie and looking for something different to do next winter, why not head up to New Caledonia for the annual Great Lagoon Regatta. Organised by a couple of the local charter yacht companies, this three day event is a wonderful way to experience the magic of New Caledonia's unique marine environment, as well as partake of some great French hospitality.
The three day event is held in late May, to take advantage of the 'off season' for sailing in the territory. It's a great time of year to be there; although it's their winter, the temperatures are pleasantly warm (in the mid 20s C) without being humid. The weather is also usually reasonably settled, great for sailing.
Although technically a race, there's a big emphasis on social fun as well. On one of the two nights away there is a party on an island beach, and you'll also find a great spirit amongst the 'contestants'. Most come from New Caledonia (so it helps to have a smattering of French), but there are also participants from New Zealand, Australia and even Japan.
Above all, the regatta allows you to discover how special the New Caledonia lagoon really is. This is the largest lagoon in the world and has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status for its natural significance. The race takes a different route each year, with the start and finish at New Caledonia's capital, Noumea. Along the way you will see some of the many reefs and beautiful, largely uninhabited islands that abound throughout the lagoon.
There is probably no better introduction to sailing in this largely untouched part of the world that is so close to New Zealand.
For more information on the 2013 Regatta contact Sail Connections Yacht Charters.
For more about sailing in New Caledonia see my New Caledonia Sailing and Cruising Guide.