Surfing and Sailing in New Caledonia.

Since leaving New Cal a couple of months ago I have met a fair number of other cruisers who either surf or kite (or both) and are heading the other way, plenty of them are desperate for info on both those activities in the region. Info on surfing in New Cal on the internet is there but scattered (and probably in French) , hopefully I am not treading on anyone's toes by writing this blog but everything I learnt about surf locations is already all up somewhere or just needs a map and some common sense to track down the best waves, this is really my thoughts on the easy to find waves. I wont bother giving swell and wind directions required as most sailing surfers will easily work this out themselves. New Cal was an epic place to surf from a yacht, due to the distance of the waves from land I doubt it would ever get properly crowded, and with so many protected anchorages close to waves more surfing or kiting cruisers should definitely stop in.

St.Vincent's Left on a fun day. Pic taken from video.

St.Vincent's Left on a fun day. Pic taken from video.

So here is my take on the waves in New Cal and their nearby anchorages from Noumea up:-

Grand Lagoon obvious surf locations.

Noumea Pass (Skateparks) [LEFT] – Pretty fast hollow left off the central island in the Southern Pass heading towards Noumea. We saw this the first time on our entrance to New Cal waters. It was breaking at about 3-4 foot with a good 25 knot cross offshore trade wind blowing. Like most of the lefts in New Cal they are mostly offshore in the trades however they are still quite exposed (with no protecting land) so can get a fair bump on the face from strong offshore. Not any good anchorages really close by and better options for waves in the area so we didn't chase this wave too hard.

Dumbea Pass – The closest pass to Noumea, Dumbea attracts the largest crowds of the waves we surfed. The left is quite a serious wave with a drainy steep take off and a fast barrel, it appeared to have heaps of potential but never was quite as good as we thought it could be. With even 15 knot trade wind there was about 1 foot of slop coming up the face at the end of the wave, which made making it out of the barrel (especially on my backhand) a bit tricky. Still a fun wave that would have some really good days. The right is probably the softest wave in the area, a fun sectioning wave that we surfed at about 2 – 3 foot, on a Saturday had about 30 in the water with 10 of those being stand up paddle boards. The closest exposed anchorage is just behind the reef on the right, in about 8m on sand.  It is perfect for a surf, great snorkelling on the inner reef too. There is a trade winds protected anchorage on a nearby (3nm) island and plenty of anchorages on the mainland only 10nm away.

Faux Pass – Just North of Dumbea pass there is a “False pass” in the reef that has a left peak, attracts the most amount of swell in the area so can have waves when everywhere else is flat but isn't the best wave, a good option on a calm small day if you are desperate. Bit tricky to get to on a yacht, you can anchor just inside the reef on sand then try and get across to the break, or reef anchor off the back of the wave.

Solid St.Vincent's Pass.

Solid St.Vincent's Pass.

St.Vincent's Pass – To me the Left was the most fun wave of our time in New Cal, we surfed it from 1 foot with the girls out where it was a fun beginner wave to solid 6 foot plus where it turned into a different animal with plenty of potential to go bigger. For kiting when the trade winds come up it is the ideal angle, we saw some of the guys off the Cabrinha Quest going crazy on kites and wind surfers on a couple of days. The anchorages on Ile Tenia are great, the South Eastern side is in about 2-5m of water depending on how far in you push and is good in mild trade conditions. The Northern anchorage is perfect for cats or boats with shallow draft and is more sheltered in the trades. Fun to get into due to coral heads so pick a sunny day and make a good track to follow back out. We anchored in about 2 m of water quite close to the Northern beach. Ile Tenia is great to go ashore, and nice long beach on the lagoon for flat water kiting. If the weather gets a bit more inclement from any angle there are plenty of protected anchorages on the nearby islands, all within about 5nm. Other waves in the area are a nice soft Right when the swell is big on the furthest in reef on the Northern side of St.Vincent's Pass. Just off the Marine Park border marker (Yellow X) is a good beginner wave. There is also a Left off Tenia itself which comes out of deep water and in a good swell and the right tide can be a heaving tube. I never managed to score it good and found at the wrong tides too much water moving around to stay in the right position.

The anchorage behind Ile Tenia, in 1-2 m of water.

The anchorage behind Ile Tenia, in 1-2 m of water.

Launching the kite on Ile Tenia.

Launching the kite on Ile Tenia.

Ouano - There is a Right on the Northern side of the pass that we surfed at about 3 foot, really fun with barrels on pretty much every wave. Only a short wave but good when there is not enough swell for the Left. The Left at Ouano is apparently the best wave in the area, as it wraps a long way further around the reef before breaking, it needs more swell than St. Vincent's to break, there is also a surf camp on the mainland directly inside of it so it does get more crowded when its on. We never managed to score it good but probably due to how fun St. Vincent's was on the good days we didn't push further North. Best anchorage we found nearby was on Ile Isie , about 4nm from the pass but sheltered in nearly all conditions due to multiple anchor locations.

There are definitely more waves outside of the Grand Lagoon further North around the Bourail area with a surf camp located up there as well. There is a soft beach break on a rivermouth, a couple of reef breaks and a wave called Secrets which is a heaving Left hander that attracts the occasional professional. Given the name I wont give away the location but nothing I found in New Cal is that hard to track down.

Our favourite anchorage of the trip, unfortunately not close to any surf.

Our favourite anchorage of the trip, unfortunately not close to any surf.

Sailing around New Cal is epic. Perfect chartage which makes you relax from the start. Huge amounts of sheltered water sailing, hundreds of anchorages all marked on standard charts, fantastic fishing (inside the lagoon around the passes, and outside everywhere) and fun uncrowded surf, perhaps not the world class waves of where we are in Fiji right now but if you want a yachting surf stop without crowds then New Cal is a must.