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Maré Island, New Caledonia

Given its proximity to other popular islands of New Caledonia, it is truly remarkable that Maré Island remains so untouched by the outside world. Ancient tectonic forces lifted this coral atoll above the sea, creating a uniquely striking landscape where lush forests suddenly plummet into limestone caves encircling natural freshwater pools. Swaying palms and feathery pines adorn ragged cliffs that soar into the air and then plunge into grottoes and hidden lagoons. Impossibly white swaths of sand lie along waters that appear the brightest shade of turquoise from a distance, but upon approach become so clear as to almost disappear. In this pristine paradise, the arrival of a ship is a major event, and much of the island’s small population will gather to welcome you with traditional songs and impromptu markets offering local wares. Embrace their friendliness and learn where to find the most scenic spots on the island.