That's our place, the low, white-roofed hotel out there on the point in the middle distance, Le Surf Hotel (don't the French have their own word for surf ?) on the narrow neck of land known as 'Rocher a la Voile' - no, I still can't get accents with the lap-top key-pad. The bay in the near distance is known as Anse Vata and is arguably the No. 1 swimming beach in Noumea, a gently sloping sandy bottom with wonderfully clean, warm water. The French and the Kanaks both seem to take sun-worshipping and beach life quite seriously but slip, slop, slap doesn't seem to get much of a look in with the lighter skinned section of the local community and The Handbrake and I are among the few people wandering around with hats on. In between the hats, the camera and relatively pasty complexions, we're readily identifiable as tourists although the fact that we've been misidentified as Kiwis a couple of times has been of some concern.
We've been here for the best part of a week already. It has been ridiculously hot (think Townsville or Cairns at their best (worst ?)) with attendant very high humidity. Most afternoons a brisk sou'wester seems to come in and the kite-surfers and sail-boarders take to the water and the breeze cools the place off a bit.
Noumea is a subtle mix of the local Kanak and imported (or superimposed, if you prefer) French cultures so there's plenty of South Pacific colour set against a 'civilising' backdrop of Gallic bureaucracy, haute-couture, and French cuisine. The baguettes and French pastries are marvellous, the wines (mostly French) good value. It's all very laid back and relaxing, just what we needed to start the year off. The photo was taken from the top of Ouen Toro, a fairly substantial hill at the east end of the bay.