Intro: New Caledonia comprises a main island of Grande Terre and the Loyalty Islands, and several smaller islands. It has a land area of 18,575.5 square kilometres (7,172 sq mi). The population was estimated in January 2009 to be 249,000. The capital and largest city of the territory is Noumea . The territory is set to decide whether to remain within the French Republic as an autonomous overseas collectivity or become an independent state in a referendum to be held between 2014 and 2019. Read more history and culture.

January 26, 2011

Nouméa and the Islands of  New Caledonia are a French Territoriry (pending independence) and a place with ‘c’est la vie’ attitude in the South Pacific, iin the Coral Sea midway between Fiji and Australia. Nearby are Vanuatu, Tahiti. It is quite unlike any of its Polynesian neighbors, and will surprise and delight gay visitors in every respect.

New Caledonia may not be renowned for its gay scene – but it’s there and growing, especially in the capital and more populated southern province. The tropical paradise has been recently discovered by those who want to experience more than just shore excursions on cruise stopovers in Noumea and the Loyalty Islands.

Noumea is a small but busy city, a place where chic European decor and sophistication embrace elements of tropical island ambience and cosmopolitan, gourmet joi de vivre. If your dream stay is more of a tropical resort, the islands will not disappoint, as many Asian and European lesbians and gay have already discovered.

One of Nouvelle Calédonie’s biggest attractions is the Isle of Pines, an easy day trip from the main island of Grande Terre. Whether you want 5-star lodging or to camp out under 5000 stars, this is the place to snorkel in a natural aquarium and take a short walk in the rainforest to eat fresh-caught lobster on the beach.

The jewel of the Pacific might just be the collection of Loyalty Islands. Travel by air or sea to the charming outer islands named Mare, Lifou and Ouvea. Each is picture postcard perfect in its own right, each with its own Kanak Villages and traditions, each open to gay travellers who want a chance to interact with the people and culture – many speak English as well as French and are willing to talk about their traditional village life and the products they produce for the outer world.

Most of the best hotels are located along Anse Vata, the coral reef bay, including brands like Starwood, Best Western and Ramada, plus smaller boutique properties. All offer apartment suites of various sizes ranging from huge to enormous, with configurations to accommodate couples or groups of friends having a good time on holiday.

Anse Vata Bay across from the hotel promenade is ideal for splashing in the sea, but windsurfing is another popular activity here, with perfect conditions of smooth water and stiff, offshore breezes. Little Île Aux Canards (Duck Island) is only 1.1 kilometres offshore and is a popular destination for lunch and relaxation, stand up paddle boarding and especially good for snorkelling on the coral reef.

Tours to the Northern Province and other coasts of the Southern Province are becoming increasingly popular with those who stay longer than a weekend or who extend their getaway in order to experience the adventures, cultural festivals, and diverse attractions across the mainland. It is a diving heaven in the world’s largest lagoon, but much more is available for active holidays.

New Caledonia’s LGBT association, Homo-sphère, provides a wealth of information for locals and visitors alike "to make their stay as enjoyable and gay as possible." This association has unwavering government support since its creation in 1998. Association Homo-Sphere has one full-time staff member who keeps busy planning six parties and gatherings each year, attracting up to 400 people. (Homo-sphere logo right)

They’re particularly necessary since there are no specifically gay bars or clubs on the islands, albeit MV Lounge is openly gay welcoming. The organisation is based in Noumea, but some of its projects, including a recent LGBT art exhibition, tour New Caledonia’s other centres.

Believe it or not, Nouvelle-Calédonie, per capita, may just be one of the gayest destinations in the world; the French culture exalting sensual pleasures as among life’s greatest thrives in the tropical climate. Though all clubs and bars in open-minded, nightspots such as Bodega Bar and MV Lounge are among the most frequented. In Noumea, the fine French restaurants, designer boutiques, and cosmopolitan crowds all proclaim that this is the Paris of the Pacific.

LGBT travellers looking for a bit of French glamour with a tropical twist would do well to consider a visit to Nouvelle-Calédonie. For more information on tourism in New Caledonia, visit New Caledonia Tourism, or contact Noumea insider Jean-Michel Foutrein, at the tourist board.