New Caledonia with kids: There’s something about Maré

Making friends on Mare, New Caledonia
Disguising myself with my darkest glasses and a wide brimmed hat, I slip unnoticed into the shadows as my kids bury the body. Ummm… maybe I should rephrase that. It’s barely 10am, and with the sun’s heat already pounding onto the white powdery sand of Maré’s
Yejele Beach, I’m determined to nab a shady spot so the kids have somewhere to rest out of the heat. That is, when they’re not throwing themselves face first in the turquoise ocean or burying their poor dad under bucket loads of sand.

Nestled inside the world’s largest lagoon, the island of Maré is a raised coral atoll and the southern most of New Caledonia’s three Loyalty Islands. And though it is just half an hour’s flight from Noumea, it is one of the Pacific’s best-kept secrets.

Mare New Caledonia

With its stunning coastline, pristine beaches, sharp limestone cliffs and an interior honeycombed with grottoes and pretty freshwater swimming holes, it is small wonder that Maré’s beauty has inspired legends.

Mare New Caledonia

Today, it is inspiring me to take a break. A real break. Not a trawl the shops for souvenirs and find the best restaurant for lunch kind of break … because there aren’t really any. More the drop everything, pull up a towel, crack open a coconut and dig your toes in to the sand kind of break. Which is exactly what this family needs.

We’ve sailed in to Maré on Carnival Spirit, and its 2000 plus passengers have swollen the island’s welcoming Kanak population by almost 50%.There's something about Mare, New Caledonia

But while the cruise ship crowds bring a welcome income stream to the Melanesian island, it certainly hasn’t affected Maré’s authenticity. With little tourist infrastructure, a single hotel, few organised tourist activities and only a pop up marketplace that forms along the beach to coincide with cruise ship schedules, it’s the lack of all the usual things that makes Maré really something.

We’re first to disembark the tender at Tadine Bay, the island’s main centre, and are on the bus to the beach before the cruise ship crowds descend. Our luck in getting here early means we have our pick of the best spots on the beach, but given that on this glorious strip of sand they’re all the best spots, we settle under a tree at one of the beach.

Beside us is a young Maréan boy hacking open fresh drinking coconuts with a machete.

fresh coconuts on Mare , New Caledonia

Behind us slabs of fresh papaya, pineapples, island style fish curry and huge banana fritters are being prepped in a makeshift stall.

So as well as shade, refreshments and lunch are sorted!

Lunch on Mare, New Caledonia

My husband, having risen from his sandy grave, has joined me to nosh on the remains of our coconuts, which my machete-wielding friend has kindly hacked in half so we can scoop out the delicious flesh.

Cocunut Queen on Mare New Caledonia

My sunscreen-slathered kids switch between gathering shells, bits of coral and discarded coconut shells to decorate their monumental sand castles, snorkelling amongst a myriad of fish and splashing about wildly in the warm turquoise water. I move only for the occasional dip in the tropical waters and a cheap but fabulous massage on a palm-leaf mat along the beach.

Perhaps the most wonderful thing about visiting Maré with kids is the connections they make. Raffles and Sugarpuff quickly befriend a couple of local kids of similar age. The Kanak children speak both French and the indigenous language, Nengoné, my kids have only English and a little Mandarin to fall back on. But they quickly discover that a combination of wild gesticulations and interpretative dance is as effective as speech.

Making friends on Mare, New Caledonia

Thank goodness for that, or they’d have had to fall back on Mr Eats World’s smattering of schoolboy French, which doesn’t really stretch past ordering “un bier” and shouting inappropriate swear words, which I’m guessing wouldn’t have gone down too well with their new friends’ parents.

Making friends on Mare, New Caledonia

Even without the benefit of a mutual language, Raffles is like some kind of junior Pied Piper and has soon gathered a following of local tots who follow his every move and laugh wildly at his buffoonery.

Making friends on Mare, New Caledonia
But there is one, gorgeous two-year old Alain, who takes such a shine to my gregarious boy that they practically start a wiggling, giggling dance party on the beach… when Alain isn’t pulling at his new pet human’s blonde curls or riding him like a pony into the ocean.

Raffles and friend on Mare

Despite Maré’s wild beauty, the warm clear water, the delicious food and gorgeous weather, it is playing with the local children that Raffles declares the best part of this visit and he is happy to entertain his little friends for the remainder of the day, waving goodbye to them and this glorious patch of paradise only when its time for us to make our way back to our fab floating home, Carnival Spirit.

23 Comments on New Caledonia with kids: There’s something about Maré

  1. Cath
    January 26, 2017 at 5:47 pm (2 weeks ago)

    These pictures of the kids are just so beautiful – what wonderful memories you are making for them

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 28, 2017 at 11:11 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Thanks so much Cath, I am trying

      Reply
  2. Emilie
    January 27, 2017 at 11:29 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Such a nice thing that children meet and play with children from other places. Hope they will remember this when they will be older and share their story with others!

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 28, 2017 at 11:11 pm (2 weeks ago)

      I really hope so too 🙂

      Reply
  3. Ioanna
    January 28, 2017 at 2:21 am (2 weeks ago)

    Just what a needed – photos of kids playing, laughing and being.. kids. Beautiful place, I loved the forest-on-rocks shore! This is a stunning place to rest and enjoy the local culture (and fruits!) – although the machete boy is a big scary (watch your fingers, friend!).

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 28, 2017 at 11:10 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Yeah, I got nervous he was getting to chop something off. But he was a pro.

      Reply
  4. Lydia@LifeUntraveled
    January 28, 2017 at 4:09 am (2 weeks ago)

    Maré looks like the perfect place to just unwind and relax (or get buried by kids). It’s nice to know it hasn’t been overdeveloped for the sake of tourism. By the way, it’s “une bière”. 😉

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 28, 2017 at 11:09 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Tuld you his French was bad! LOLOL

      Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 28, 2017 at 11:09 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Told you his French was bad! LOLOL

      Reply
  5. Lynne Sarao
    January 28, 2017 at 2:02 pm (2 weeks ago)

    This island looks absolutely stunning and it’s so lovely that the kids were able to make such great connections with the local children. It looks like you had a fantastic visit!

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 28, 2017 at 11:10 pm (2 weeks ago)

      The kids of the Pacific Islands are so full of joy and so welcoming to other children.

      Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 28, 2017 at 11:08 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Thanks Shari! IT really is paradise.

      Reply
  6. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    January 28, 2017 at 10:49 pm (2 weeks ago)

    I love those pics of Alain and Raff! They look so carefree-that’s what a fab childhood is all about! 😀

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 28, 2017 at 11:07 pm (2 weeks ago)

      IT sure is Lorraine x

      Reply
  7. Colby
    January 28, 2017 at 10:58 pm (2 weeks ago)

    This place looks like such a quiet paradise! Your kiddos are absolutely adorbs and it is such a beautiful thing to see them and the local kids having the time of their lives.

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 28, 2017 at 11:07 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Thank you. They had such a beautiful time

      Reply
  8. Bronnie - Maid In Australia
    January 28, 2017 at 11:51 pm (2 weeks ago)

    The photos of your kids getting along are better than anything in a travel brochure. I wonder what it would be like for teens? And single parents?

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      January 29, 2017 at 9:26 am (2 weeks ago)

      We were with a group that included teens – they loved it! And cruising is perfect for single parents. There are so many options for everyone and places where your kids can be safe while you have a little tie for yourself

      Reply
  9. Katie
    January 29, 2017 at 12:06 am (2 weeks ago)

    What a beautiful place to visit! Looks like the kids loved it too 🙂

    Reply
  10. Victoria Hawkins
    January 29, 2017 at 4:35 am (2 weeks ago)

    What a lovely place to visit with the kids! I’m always looking out for new gems to trip plan!

    Reply
  11. Daleya
    January 29, 2017 at 5:33 am (2 weeks ago)

    Wow! I had never heard of Mare before. Will have to look into this cruise. That water and sandy beach just look amazing. Seems like the perfect place to unwind with your family.

    Reply
  12. Eena
    January 29, 2017 at 2:17 pm (2 weeks ago)

    The sea and the culture are just beautifully combined together! Definitely the best way to spend with loved ones, this is just amazing!

    Reply

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