- From its richness, size and quality of preservation, the New Caledonian lagoon is listed as a part of UNESCO's World Heritage Site listing -
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1) General Information
(Diving Report" compiled and written by Ray Aucott Tourism Industry Marketing")
"New Caledonia has arguably the most prolific marine animal life in the South Pacific
Other countries and dive locations offer much of what can be seen in New Caledonia. However, within a single dive not only many of the tropical fish are evident but the diver can see many of the species that create such excitement such as, a variety of sharks, manta rays, moray eels, sea snakes, lion and butterfly fish, and a host of unusual marine animal species".
"Unique to New Caledonia diving is almost all of the above can be seen in a single dive
The creation of the marine park out from Noumea adds to the security of the marine life and so greatly enhances the marine animal population. This makes an ideal viewing platform to observe creatures in their own environment, including superb photography".
"Rare species can often be seen throughout New Caledonia
Such as the leopard shark out of Ile des Pins and the leaf or cabbage fish seen out from Noumea".
"The Underwater geography
Such as the Prony Needle is only seen in these waters and the fresh water cave diving on the Ile des Pins, will entice the diver to explore these unusual dive sites"
"To directly dive from the beach out of a capital city is very rare
30 minutes and the diver is ready to dive after leaving the city. Usually diving so close to a major city is problematic with heavy shipping lanes and certainly pollution. Add to this, the marine park environment, underwater geography, excellent clear wreck diving and warm water, the appeal to the diver is assured. Once the diver is aware of the unique nature of diving in New Caledonia there will be more visitations".
"The PADI diving organisation
Within New Caledonia has its regional offices in Australia and as such PADI activities and training is controlled from Australia. This is an excellent link between the two diving organisations and divers between the two countries".
The novice diver undertakes their theory and pool training in their country and finishes the open water part of the course with a PADI New Caledonia dive training operator to gain their qualifications. These are particularly popular in some countries, as the open water during the winter months is not always possible due to bad weather. Allowing the course to be finished in warmer waters is most attractive".
The hot season is from October to April, water temperatures are between 27C and 30C on the surface and from 24C to 27C at18m/60'.
he cold season is from May to September, water temperatures are between 23C and 26C on the surface, and from 20C to 23C at18m/60'.
Advised diving gear
Tanks usually used
5 to 7mm wetsuit and hood in cold season.
Steel 12 litres, 230 bars, without reserve. 2 Dive centres also use aluminium tanks
Average depth & dive time
Depth of dives is around18m/60' and dive time for about 40 minutes. No pleasure dives deeper than 40m/135' in N-C.
Most of the dives are in the passage and out of the Barrier Reef (about 40 to 60 minutes boat ride).
In the interior of the lagoon, there are many islands & reefs where one can dive and discover many species of fish and haunting ship wrecks.
From 6 up to 11 meters long, most of them are inflatable, they don't go far away (between Noumea and Amedee Light house).
Only one diving vessel "IMPERATOR" goes away and everywhere : complete diving ship for individuals and groups, 20 m x 6 m ; very spacious with toilets, showers and all accommodation on board, DV "IMPERATOR" offers DIVE for DAY, DIVE for WEEK and EXPEDITIONS to the South Lagoon (ISLE OF PINS) and to the Loyalty Islands (OUVEA).
Local time and Currency
Pacific Franc: 1 Euro = 119.33F CFP. A currency converter may be useful.
GMT +11, same time as Sydney during summer and 1 hour in front in winter
There is a recompression chamber located in Noumea, since July 2004, in case of a diving accident. In all French countries, you always dive with an Instructor who leads the dive.
2) Diving in the South Lagoon
Surrounded by the largest lagoon in the world, of which the largest sector is in the south, around Noumea. Most of the dive sites are classed as Marine reserves, therefore the wildlife is abundant and very often large. These usually include sharks, manta rays, giant trevally, barracudas and hump-backed whales.
The Ultimate Diving Destination
In the South Lagoon, many of the sites are outside the Great Reef; you will see giant gorgonies clinging to enormous drop offs. You can enjoy the drift dives at the Boulari & Dumbea passes which are located 15 miles from Noumea. The sea current travels sometimes at 4 knots and during the year you may see many manta rays in this location. There are also many sites within the lagoon, of which the most part are marine reserves therefore promoting large numbers of varying fauna.
Within the lagoon there are many small islands and smaller, yet no less beautiful, coral reefs allowing for the discovery of many fish and wrecks from the war and old fishing boats. Some sites are well known for their large numbers of turtles, (Tepava).
Beyond the immediate reach of a single day trip from Noumea, there are many mostly unexplored "virgin" dive areas with glowing reputations (Mato, Merlet Cave, Uatio, and Kouare among some). These offer many natural curiosities such as the famed "Needle of Prony" within the bay of the same name or else the "Pit of Sharks" of Goro, near Yaté. Near the Havannah channel there is the drop-off of Nouare isle, reputed for its strong currents and encounters with the "Big"!
Departures from Noumea
Speedy and sports diving services (half day trips) :
Most dive centres organize morning trips between Boulari (Amedee Lighthouse) and Dumbea (Signal Isle) passes. They use inflatable speed boats.
Relaxing and tourist diving services (day trips) :
A tourist diving operator, AMEDEE DIVING CLUB is based at the Amedee Lighthouse islet and only organises day trips (2 dives), consisting of one morning dive and one in the afternoon. A minimum of divers is required to organize the trips.
Another operator, NOUMEA DIVING, is going everyday for diving, with a 20 m ship "IMPERATOR" offering great comfort with a lot of open space, on board fresh water showers, toilet and compresser. In regard of the remoteness of the dive sites, she only offers day trips (3 or 4 dives) allowing you to take your time, to stay rest, to enjoy cruising and diving both. Weekend trips are also offered with five dives, in the south of the lagoon as far as the well known Kouare Isle. Similar trips with the Imperator are available to the Isle of Pines, Lifou and Ouvea.
Departures from Isle of Pines
There is an operator based here offering diving trips of both half- and full-day, with an inflatable diving boat.
3) Dive sites reachable for 1/2 Day Trips (2 dives)
The half day trips are within the lagoon as well as between the passes of Boulari and Dumbea, on the inside and outside of the reef.
The travel time is about 40 or 50 minutes by boat, sometimes more if the sea conditions are rough or windy. Morning departures are usually at about 8:00 am depending on the dive company and returning around 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm (2 tank).
Each of the 2 passes are very different from the other and they are many accessible beautiful dive sites inside the lagoon :
. BOULARI passage is a marine reserve in which the fauna is abundant and it is not unusual to meet manta rays and sharks. In the pass, many fish inhabit the area and are friendly and approachable.
. UI-UA Grotto (not translated from the french), outside Boulari pass, along the great reef.
. "TABOU" reef is on the inside of the lagoon, in front of Amedee Lighthouse and close to Boulari pass. The diving here is quiet, easy and very colourful characterised by graduate sloping sand and coral, to about 20 metres. The reef, like the passage, is a marine sanctuary and looks like a natural aquarium, with over hundred fish species.
. NAOKO POINT (not translated from the french), a big rock coral about 1 mile from Tabou reef, inside the lagoon.
. TEPAVA, not far from Noumea (20 minutes by boat) is situated great diving along the same reef that has formed the island "l'îlot Maître". is the perfect place to meet turtles, snapper, barracudas, trevelly, yellow ludjans, ui-ua, reef sharks, eagle rays, sting rays, bat fish and many others.
. SEICHE CROISSANT, translated to "dry crescent" this dive site is close to "l'îlot Maître" and the crescent is visible from the island's northern coast. There are many types of fish that have made their home here, especially huge schools of yellow ludjans.
It is not unusual to see eagle rays passing through on the north side of the reef...
. "CANARDS ISLAND" (duck Island) is a reserve rich in fish life, ideal for snorkelling, or diving with a helmet only 4 metres underwater in the "Ocean Walk", or learning to scuba dive
. A little to the north, there is DUMBEA passage. Also a marine reserve, it has a famous site called "Canyon Fossil" along the outside of Abore reef, equally called "Wall of Groupers" for the thousands of female gropers migrating to lay their eggs inside many small caves. During the months of October and November, this site is at its most beautiful. On the inside, you will find left over treasures from World War II, like the huge submarine mine. Along the M'bere reef, the drop offs are very steep with canyons and flora very luscious with black and soft corals.
. The WRECKS : DIEPPOISE, TOHO 5, TOHO 2, Motor Ship SNARK, HUMBOLDT, ARROGANTE, SUN BURN COUNTRY, CORAIL... (please, see the list below the following map).
20 SITES are shown below on the map. This list is not fully exhaustive, however, and shows only the principle sights.
4) Dive sites reachable for Full Day, or longer trips
Day trips enable the discovery of dive sites rarely or never visited, some of which hold great reputations (Dukati, Toongere,Neokumbi, Prony, Goro, Tenia etc. ..) situated within the south lagoon and along the outside of the reef as well.
It can also be taken as a chance to relax on board, taking your time to stay rest and enjoying a friendly surface interval.You can also enjoy a BBQ on the natural beauty of a sunny lagoon, close to the barrier reef or in a wild bay.
For the scuba-smitten, it is a great way of spending a day and fitting in 3 dives.
AMEDEE DIVING CLUB offers 2 dives (one in the morning and another in the afternoon). With lunch on the Amedee island and the two dives costing 9,880 Fcfp / 82,84 euros + 1560 Fcfp / 13,07 euros for the meal. Departure time for the second dive is at 1pm.
This centre requires a minimum of 5 divers for each weekday day trip and is only available on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays.
NOUMEA DIVING offers a 2-tank morning dive at Signal Isle. On the island, your tables and chairs and BBQ await you in a truly paradilic setting, from 8,075 Fcfp / 67.66 euro plus 2,500 Fcfp / 20.95 euros for the optional BBQ.
NOUMEA DIVING offers weekend trips of 5 dives by the island of Tenia.
BOUT DE BROUSSE offers 1 dive and walks on the island.
NOUMEA DIVING regularly organises weekend trips of 5 dives in the Bay of Prony, at Goro, in the Havannah channel and in the Woodin channel for 25,000 Fcfp / 209,50 euros.
1 dive in the famous "shark pit" with regular visits from giant barracudas...
2 drift dives in the extraordinary drop-off of Nouare isle and in the Havannah channel
1 dive on the needle and another dive in the famous Woodin channel.
Local style bungalows are avilable in beautiful surroundings, in the middle of the vegetation or on the beach, at Port Boisé and the "gîte" Kanua. You will find a splendid, well maintained, setting amongst the bungalows and a shady camping ground.
This is the marvel of marvells for diving. Situated outside the great reef and near its passes, are the famous Merlet cave, Neokumbi and, Extasy to name a few.
NOUMEA DIVING often organises trips of either 2 or 3 days to these sites. Please book in advance through the dive centre.
Accessible for everyone with a scuba diving certification.
The Night dive is really exceptional.
Departure is from 6:30pm and return at 8:00 pm, in summer and from 5:30 in winter.
The dive sites are to only 10 or 15 minutes from the shore by a speed boat. Usually, the dives are about 50 or 60 minutes long and the average depth is 12 metres.
Click here for the information page.
The aquatic life has been sleeping since sunset, so, for these night dives you can see very easily a lot of fish sleeping everywhere. It is sometimes possible to approach some very big turtles and discover another night aquatic life that you wouldn't imagine. All night dives are with an experienced instructor who leads and guides the dive to allow your enjoyment and safety in an easy dive without prior night diving experince. All lamps are supplied.
The essential question: Dive. But what's the price?
The most common form of diving is the 2 tank morning dive, for which the average price is 9,000 Fcfp / 75,42 euros (with tanks and weights included).
There are only 2 companies offering the day trips,(see above for details). the most common price is from 11,700 Fcfp / 92,18 euros for 2 dives.
Full equipement (BCD, regulator,wetsuit, mask, fins) can be hired for between 2,000 and 2,500Fcfp / 16.76 and 20.95 euros. Some clubs offer individual piece rental from 500 Fcfp / 4.19 euros, while others charge the same price with or without equipement (outside Noumea only).
At the moment there are two packages available :
- Package name "CARTE +" or "Forfait Inter-Club" that allows 15% off between certain listed clubs (of which there are 3 in Noumea and its surrounds). The prices offered by this system are, however, more expensive than those generally offered by most companies in Noumea.
Be careful, as there are a minimum number of people required per booking under this system.
- A promotional "15 tank Package" (5 day trips x 3 dives) is available through NOUMEA DIVING, while diving from the IMPERATOR. Available for use any day with no minimum party booking.
- Other Diving Operations, using inflatable boats also offer some low prices for diving, through booking via this website.
There is also a special conditional offer available to groups giving free or discounted dives through some dive companies
Visit the weblink "Dive Centres" below
Enjoy the diving in New Caledonia, the island and diving closest to Heaven!
Click here to open the corresponding page, or directly contact the operator of your choice.