Learning how the Kanaks live in New Caledonia

Exploring the customs of New Caledonia’s Kanak communities ensures that visitors see more than just a South Pacific idyll – they experience a unique culture that is now finding its voice…

George Kipouros
01 March 2024
A paradise beach in New Caledonia (George Kipouros)

Never in my life did I expect to be invited to a royal coronation, much less one taking place within a territory of the French Republic. France’s dalliance with a monarchy had come to a sharp end about 230 years ago – just ask Louis XVI. But it wasn’t European royalty I was looking forward to meeting as I boarded a boat headed to what is known as ‘the island closest to paradise’.

The road to paradise actually consisted of a ferry ride across the world’s largest lagoon to New Caledonia’s Isle of Pines, deep in the south-western Pacific Ocean. Even from the deck, the colours of the surrounding reef shone brightly. But as the island’s silhouette became clearer, my attention was drawn away from the UNESCO-listed waters to the shimmering landscape that lay ahead…

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