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24 hours in Prony

Anaëlle and Steven's good ideas

For a unique and action-packed weekend not far from Noumea, Anaelle and I decided to head south to Prony. We were immediately captivated by the characteristic red earth of the southern region, accompanied by its ever-changing landscapes, including the historical village of Prony, Cap N’Dua, encounters with migrating whales, and the charming Casy islet. What astonished us the most was the wealth of activities available to us, creating an illusion of solitude as we spent the night in the heart of Port-Boisé bay.

Anaëlle and StevenAnaëlle and Steven
©Anaëlle and Steven
Anaëlle and Steven

Anaëlle and Steven are content creators who have recently settled in New Caledonia. For NCT, they agreed to share their favourite places and other goodtips, which they document in photos and videos during their getaways. From the mainland to the islands, from their favourite walks to the best shopping spots, Anaëlle and Steven take you on a journey to discover the must-sees in New Caledonia. Follow their adventures on @anaellechretienoff and @stevenlqr.

What we truly love about New Caledonia is the diversity of the landscapes, from the sea to the mountains.

Anaëlle and Steven

Explore the former historic village of Prony

To commence our 24-hour adventure, Anaelle and I embarked on a visit to the historic village of Prony. Established in 1867, this site is adorned with informative panels that recount its diverse history, intertwined with logging, mining, and its role as a prison facility. Guided tours are also at your disposal.

We were really struck by its authenticity. It seems like it has been untouched for a long time. Certain stone buildings are entirely enveloped by colossal Banyan tree roots, an awe-inspiring testament to nature’s reclamation of its territory.

The journey from Noumea to the village takes approximately one and a half hour, incorporating stretches of unpaved roads and delightful surprises along the way. To fully immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere and activities, consider spending the night at the Prony’s Paradise guesthouse.

Observe giant humpback whales from Antarctica

After our village exploration, we returned to the Bay of Somme, a pivotal point for various oceanic excursions. For those who prefer trekking over sailing, this bay also serves as the starting point for the GR South (GRNC1). We met Marc, captain of the Casy Express, waiting to guide us in encountering the humpback whales migrating through the southern lagoon from mid-July to September.

Before heading out to see them, Marc acquainted us with the melodic songs of these Antarctic giants and enlightened us about their pilgrimage to New Caledonia for reproduction and calf birth. As we observed these magnificent creatures, we were privileged to witness them breaching the ocean’s surface.

This experience was genuinely unparalleled, made even more special by Marc’s commitment to respectful interaction with the whales, avoiding intrusive approaches for mere entertainment. For ocean excursions, you have the choice of various providers in Prony or can embark on a catamaran cruise from Noumea.

Snorkelling and hiking on Casy islet

Following our awe-inspiring whale encounter, Marc transported us to Casy islet. If you opt to explore Casy Islet first, it’s a brief 15-minute boat ride from Somme Bay. During the journey, Marc shared insights into the island’s history, now classified as a nature reserve where camping is permitted.

Here, you can indulge in snorkelling, observe marine life from the pontoon, or simply relax on the sandy shores. If you crave a panoramic view, a 3-kilometre trail encircles the islet, leading to its summit, from which you can admire the expansive horizon and the coastline of Grande Terre.

What truly astounded us about Casy islet is the fact that it showcases all the diverse landscapes of New Caledonia in one compact location – from the turquoise lagoon waters and pristine white sands to the native New Caledonia pines, lush vegetation, and even the distinctive red earth at its zenith. We absolutely loved it!

Unwind in the Great South hot springs

Our boat voyage culminated with a visit to the Kaoris River thermal springs. Marc conveniently dropped us off via water taxi, but you can also access it via a 9-kilometre (approximately two and a half hours) hike from the Usine du Sud road, or through kayak and 4-wheel drive excursions.

The South Province has developed the site to allow easy access to the springs and the river below. There is also a traditional faré shelter and tables to rest and eat your picnic, right in the middle of the lush vegetation. Anaelle and I savoured our time there, with me soaking in the soothing hot waters while Anaelle enjoyed a good read on one of the benches.

On the way back, Casy Express introduced us to other intriguing sights, including the Prony underwater needle – a towering pinnacle formed by the thermal springs. This colossal stone column, standing at 38 metres, serves as a magnet for underwater life, making it a renowned diving destination.

Gaze Across the Horizon from the Grand Sud's Cape N’Dua

Upon returning to solid ground, we embarked on our journey back to Kanua Tera, our accommodation. Along the way, we took advantage of a stop at the Cap N’Dua nature reserve. It’s essential to take note of the site’s operating hours and parking regulations, as they are rigorously enforced.

Located at the southern end of Grande Terre, the natural lanscape features a lighthouse overlooking the lagoon and Havannah Passage, an observatory used to track whale migration, and a trail to the Anse Majic cove (4.5 km round trip).

The juxtaposition of the earth’s rusty hues against the backdrop of the pristine white lighthouse and the ocean paints a mesmerizing tapestry of colours. Here, we also had the pleasure of meeting Natacha, who guides boat tours for whale watching and had previously conversed with Marc via radio. Engaging with her provided us with valuable insights.

An Enchanted night at Kanua Tera

As the sun began its descent, we arrived at the Kanua Tera eco-lodge. With all the bungalows facing Port-Boisé bay and its inviting white sand beach, we relished a romantic moment on the deck just outside our room. Tucked away in the heart of nature, the hotel is a testament to beauty, cleanliness, and the warm hospitality of its staff.

This off-the-beaten-path gem is the ideal locale to fully disconnect and bask in the ocean vistas while strolling along the historic Chemin des Bagnards (an easy 4.5-kilometre one-way route) that leads from the hotel to the Port-Boisé campsite.

Enveloped by Melanesian architectural charm and treated to cuisine infused with local ingredients, we truly felt immersed in the Pacific. Anaelle’s steak was excellent, and the Melanesian buffet, featuring locally caught fresh seafood, was a culinary delight.

Practical information

Visiting the Great South is like stepping into another world and you need to take the time to enjoy it. As Anaelle says, “You overlook everything from the road; it’s magical. And since there are hardly any other people, you feel like you’re alone in the world.”

To make the most of your day and relish the many lookout points that showcase the ever-changing landscapes, we recommend an early departure from Noumea, allowing ample time for multiple stops.

Given the sparse population in the area and the occasionally long distances, it’s prudent to identify lunch spots in advance or ensure you’ve stocked up on supplies and fuel before embarking on your day trip or arriving at your chosen accommodation.

Anaëlle and Steven's good ideas

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