ISLAND LIVING AT L’ESCAPADE ILOT MAITRE IN NEW CALEDONIA

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As the boat pulled away from the harbour and started sailing into the wide-open seas, wind whipped through my hair and the salty smell from the waves crashing against the hull filled my nose. The sun was high, its rays beaming down fiercely and Port Moselle was soon becoming nothing but a pinprick on the horizon of New Caledonia. Our destination? L’Escapade Ilot Maître Island.

Located 20 minutes by boat from Noumea, L’Escapade Ilot Maître Island is surround by a 200 hectare marine reserve. Escapade Island Resort, the only resort on the island, has 44 island bungalows and 25 luxury overwater bungalows for discerning guests, offering a spectacular view on sunset. The abundant marine life coupled with white sand beaches, drift wood and blue sea is more than an oasis – its paradise.

The island itself is small, so small it takes just over half an hour to walk the perimeter on the beach. Here I discovered a plethora of water activities including snorkeling, swimming in the lagoon, jet skiing, canoeing, pedal boat, stand up paddle boarding, wind surfing or relaxing by the pool. You really can have it all in New Caledonia and a day trip to L’Escapade Ilot Maître Island simply wasn’t enough - I could have easily spent a week relaxing on the island.

The island is open to day visitors with the resort restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as free standing barbeques to all those who visit and want to cook their own food. I enjoyed a full buffet lunch of local seafood and a selection of delectable desserts. Following lunch, I chose to explore a particular side of the island lined with driftwood and salt affected trees. Here I swam in the crystal clear lagoon and later relaxed on the beach before jumping back on the boat and sailing to back to Noumea.

TRIP NOTES Where: L’Escapade Ilot Maître Island, New Caledonia What: Escapade Island Resort, Ilot Maitre, BP137-98847, Noumea When: All year round! Contact: www.glphotels.nc