Only three hours from Australia’s east coast, the South Pacific island paradise New Caledonia genuinely welcomes visitors with a warm smile. Despite the name, Nouvelle Calédonie in French, the land feels like time has stood still with pristine waters, secluded palm-laden islets and mesmerizing aquatic life. Relax on New Caledonia holiday today.

Captain James Cook first sighted New Caledonia in 1774, however it took just under another century and a considerable amount of bloodshed before European powers finally colonized the islands. In 1854 the French established a penal colony and over the coming decades sent around 22,000 convicts to the country. Today, New Caledonia remains a dependent territory of France with a referendum slated for the coming years to decide whether to remain under the power of France or become an independent state.

New Caledonia enjoys a temperate climate year round. In January temperatures reach around 86 degrees while in winter the mercury hovers around a balmy 75 degrees. The hotter months also bring torrential rain with the occasional tropical cyclone. Most people enjoy visiting in the colder seasons, perhaps between September and December.

There are 36 different islands which are collectively known as New Caledonia. The largest and primary island is Grande Terre with the capital, Noumea situated in the south. The Loyalty Islands, including Lifou, Fayaoue and Tadine located to the east of Grande Terre, are other important islands. However, the true beauty of the region is generally appreciated on the uninhabited islets with zero infrastructure.