Christmas in Paradise: Part 2

map1Magenta Bay flame tree 3Nouvelle Calédonie: le Pacifique au Coeur (as it says on the tourism websites). Two basic requirements for Paradise, for me at least, are lush tropical vegetation and vibrant colours. There’s plenty of both here.
Magenta Bay flame tree 2
We’ve chosen to stay in the centre of the capital, Noumea, rather than down by the tourist beaches. It’s just a short walk to the marina on Magenta Bay anyway. That’s where I photographed these flamboyant flame trees (Delonix regia). They’re native to Madgascar apparently, though now grown throughout the tropics.

fish faceThere’s a market every morning near the marina. I reckon Fishface here is going to end up in the next Grandville.

Another lovely spot is the Place des Cocotiers. Plenty of shade to shelter in, but I must admit I’m now experiencing severe fan palm envy. The eponymous coconut trees are splendid too, though standing under them in high winds must be hazardous!
Place des Cocotiers
fan palm
And here’s our Bryan sitting under a banyan tree.

Bryan & banyan
These amazing trees are everywhere. Some of them are massive. Ficus prolixia, I think.
banyan 2
museum interiorOf the three museums in Noumea the Museum of New Caledonia was the most different, hence interesting, for me (the other two are city and maritime museums). It’s full of Oceanic and Melanesian artefacts and reconstructions, such as these intriguing carved roof trees and door posts:

 

 

 

and this traditional building:

museum hut
We’re avoiding the main tourist beach area, but we do go to a secluded bit of coastline. A short taxi ride out of town, the Kuendu Beach Hotel is a beautiful spot for lunch, as you can see.

I love trees! The amazing columnar pine, or Cook’s pine, is New Caledonia’s signature tree. It’s Araucaria columnaris, a relation of the monkey puzzle.
Kuendu Beach Hotel
Kuendu trees
I decide on the caesar salad with crevettes, then sit back and enjoy the view.
Kuendu restaurant
Kuendu restaurant view 3
Kuendu Beach
water liles Kuendu Beach Hotel 2
hibiscus lutea
more Kuendu trees
Tree porn, eh?

I intended to dip my toes in the ocean after lunch, but we take up the offer of a lift back into town instead. An overnight thunderstorm has wiped out the restaurant’s credit card machine, so that the lunch bill does the same to our small supply of local currency. Thanks to the local teacher for driving us back to Noumea – the kindness of a stranger in a faraway place.
Kuendu Beach flame tree