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New Caledonia Travel Guide

The Belep Islands

The Belep Islands, some 50 km beyond Grande Terre's northern tip, receive twice weekly Air Calédonie services from Koumac and Nouméa. The flight lands near Waala on Art Island. This trip is worth taking if you want to get well off the beaten track, but book ahead in Nouméa and be prepared to camp. A small ferry plies the waters between Waala and Poum about once a week.

From 1892 to 1898, these islands were used as a leper colony, and the French forcibly exiled all the inhabitants to Balade. There's still a bit of resentment over this, but once the locals know you're not French, they're more friendly. The entire group is an indigenous reserve. Scallop fishing is done offshore by an Australian company in partnership with the Kanak communities of Belep and Poum.

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