Dive into New Caledonia

Image courtesy of New Caledonia Tourism
By Emily Kennedy. Dive information courtesy of New Caledonia Tourism.

New Caledonia has one of the world’s largest coral reefs (only second to Australia’s Great Barrier), the world's largest lagoon, perfect diving temperatures (21° to 28°), an abundance of marine life and breathtaking (don’t forget your regulator) underwater landscapes. With stats like that, it was a tough job to narrow down the best dives, but we managed to choose just 10 top spots to help you dive into New Caledonia.

Sound the horns! — La corne de Ténia (Tenia Horn), Boulouparis
It takes two or three dives to really experience this spot. Tenia Horn is a cliff face with its “horn,” a coral massif which rises up out of the blue waters, harbouring all sorts of colourful fish, grey sharks, turtles, eagle rays, and open-ocean marine life.

A dive for all levels — La fausse passe de l’îlot Vert (the false pass of the green islet), Bourail
This spectacular site provides numerous diving options, from initiation dives to deep dives. Here you’ll see black pointer sharks, leopard sharks, stingrays, leopard rays, rocklings, and large shoals of pelagic marine life.

Go vertical — Le grand coude de Kélé (Kélé elbow), Bourail
This vertical drop of 70 metres offers views of fantastic canyons and magnificent coral. Grey sharks, eagle rays, shoals of becune fish and rocklings will keep you company.

Underwater adventure — Daïman Reef, Cathédrale, Hienghène
A deep rift leads into a tunnel, which emerges into an area bustling with marine life. The dive continues into the void and along a fantastically high wall, with the seabed more than 55 metres below. You’ll be accompanied by parrotfish, tuna, barracuda, tazars, and the occasional grey shark. Go between October and November for the best underwater show.

Humpback haven — Hienghène Pass, Hienghène
Between July and November humpback whales can be seen near the great Hienghène pass and inside the lagoon. Diving Hienghène Pass begins with a descent into a well, which emerges under a magnificent arch dotted with gorgonia.

You’ll crave this cave — La grotte de la 3e (The 3rd cave), Isle of Pines
This unique cave dive is a forest of stalactites and stalagmites. Guaranteed to satisfy your cave cravings. Recommended for experienced divers only.


The (well-watered) Garden of Eden — Le jardin d’Eden, Isle of Pines
This series of rifts between 5 and 50 metres deep create an undulating expedition between canyons, grottos, tunnels and swim-throughs rife with marine life. Recommended for experienced divers only.

A great beginners wreck — Dieppoise wreck, Nouméa
The last wooden patrol boat of the Royal Navy was sunk in 1988 by the National Navy to become a dive site. Located just 26 metres underwater, with superb rocklings and myriads of other fish, this site is a great dive for beginners.

Rays and wrecks — Snark wreck, Nouméa
This Panamanian cargo ship sunk in 1942 near a sandbank. Now, it’s a hot spot for Leopard and black spotted rays.


Take your pick of Poindimié — Pascaline, Dephy, Val d’Isère, Spaghetti, Natacha
Divers are spoilt for choice with the 50 sites just off the coast of Poindimié. Dive spots include a relief made of rifts, arches and canyons scattered with gorgonia, coral, and a great diversity of small and large sea creatures.