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NEW CALEDONIA
By Brianna Van De Ven

In November I was lucky enough to travel on an educational trip to Noumea, capital of New Caledonia, a French territory comprising endless islands in the South Pacific.

On arrival into La Tontouta Airport we were met by our transfer service and enjoyed the 45-minute coach journey into Noumea. After checking into our first hotel, the boutique family-run Hotel Le Lagon, we explored the restaurant and main beach areas, which were only a block away.

The following day we headed off to Amedee Island and its white sandy beaches. Snorkelling and glass bottom boats where among some of the activities available on the Island. It also has a lighthouse, the smallest post office and lots of water creatures including sea snakes. It was here that I got to swim alongside green sea turtles in amongst the reef and we were only around 10 metres from the beachline. After a big buffet lunch and a very engaging cultural show, we returned to Noumea to check into our new hotel Le Meridien.

Le Meridien is a gorgeous resort with every water sport you could imagine, a wonderful spa and fantastic restaurants. The hotel is also right on the beachfront and only a 1 0-minute walk to the town centre.

Day three saw us heading off to another close-by island Le Escapade, home to a beautiful hotel with lovely affordable overwater bungalows on the lagoon and cute garden view rooms. After a hotel inspection we had the most amazing buffet lunch then time to relax by the pool. On the return to Noumea we had a little free time to explore the town centre which is full of boutique shopping, great restaurants, delicious gelato and a lot of gift stores.

Whilst in Noumea we used our nights to explore and try out different cuisines, including the amazing Le Roof French cruising restaurant where we were lucky enough to see our own dolphin show.

On our second-last day we packed up and moved next door to the Chateau Royal, which is another beachfront hotel. Travelling is all about trying new things, so we went to the Noumea Golf Driving Range to get personalised lessons from an ex-golf pro and hit 50 balls in the range. We finished off with a putting session before having some lunch. We all had such a fun morning!

On our way back to the hotel the driver took us to visit a large supermarket where we could compare prices and see the huge range of French imported goods, including amazing cheese and bread selections.

Arriving back to the Chateau Royal, we met the hotel manager and had our hotel inspection. Chateau Royal has amazing, affordable room types mainly all apartments, a beautiful pool area, a lot of common areas, some nice restaurants and a fabulous health and spa centre where they offer lots of massage options and even have aqua bike classes which looked like a lot of fun.

We enjoyed yet another beautiful hosted dinner before packing up for our flight home the following morning. New Caledonia has a great range of options on the mainland and so many islands only a short flight away, offering split stays and still enjoying stay pay deals.

New Caledonia is a beautiful place and I feel so blessed to have experienced its natural beauty.