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New Caledonia Travel Guide

Hilltop Cross, Mare
A hilltop cross overlooks the church at La Roche on Maré Island.

Sights Around Maré

Maré Airport is only two km from the large Catholic mission at La Roche. Massive stone walls enclose the mission compounds, and a tall, white neo-Gothic church towers above the settlement, itself dominated by a high limestone cliff topped by a cross. You'll need sturdy shoes to climb up to the cross on a path departing from the north side of the church (sharp left at the top of the cliff); there's a sweeping view of the pine-studded island.

In times of war, the Maré people have always sought refuge on this cliff, and it's called "La Roche qui Pleure" (the rock that weeps). Religious fighting took place here in 1869, 1880, and 1890. A road leads north from La Roche Mission a km to the picturesque cliffs on the coast (no beach).

The Yeiwéné Yeiwéné Cultural Center, two km west of La Roche, contains a small exhibition of paintings and artifacts. Behind the cultural center is an ancient stone wall four meters high and about 10 meters thick which belonged to a fortress built between A.D. 250 and 580.

The island's administrative center is at Tadine, where the ferry from Nouméa calls. A monument at the wharf recalls the 126 persons who perished in the disappearance of the interisland trader Monique in 1953. No trace of the ship was ever found. The assassinated Kanak leader Yeiwéné Yeiwéné is buried three km south of this, his hometown. A km south again is the so-called "natural aquarium," a blue hole connected to the sea.

At Nécé, eight km north of Tadine, is the residence of Nidoish Naisseline, grand chief of Maré and a leader of Liberation Kanak Socialiste (LKS). Several monuments near Chief Naisseline's house across from the adjacent church commemorate early Protestant missionaries.

Yedjélé Beach at Ceigeïté, eight km south of Tadine, is Maré's finest, its palm-fringed white sands and clear waters inviting the swimmer and snorkeler. Just before Medu village, southeast of Wabao, is a deep karst cave. The 138-meter-high coastal cliffs south of Medu are the highest point on the Loyalty Islands.

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