As seen from a glass-bottom boat, diving near the coral reef, or from the hills surrounding the Domaine de Deva, the lagoon is a truly enticing sight, made even more magical at sunset with an incredible performance from Gulaan.
Breakfast at the Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Spa & Golf Resort is an opportunity for everyone to get to know one another. Dario and Monique quickly establish themselves as the class clowns, with the ride leader's efforts to stick to the itinerary providing the perfect catchphrase: "Mama Soso says...".
We've got all the ingredients for a perfect day, and it starts with a short trek on a hill close to the hotel! The Oua Koué hiking trail is typical of the West Coast and the Domaine de Deva, with golden plains as far as the eye can see, and the panorama is absolutely breathtaking. The summit offers our first glimpse of the magnificent Bourail lagoon! Now everyone understands why the New Caledonian lagoons have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites for more than 10 years.
An outing on a glass-bottom boat is the perfect way to see it up close. The captain, Alan, leads the Caledodreamers straight to a group of turtles measuring over 1 metre in length, and explains that "These are green sea turtles, the only species of herbivorous marine turtle. Young turtles stay in the seagrass beds all year round, while the adults cross the Pacific and return on a regular basis." The adventure then continues to the coral reef, where we learn about the diverse range of corals all around us, each with their own distinctive colours and shapes. Snorkelling among the coral heads offers a close-up view of the huge multicoloured fish that abound in this vast marine reserve.
A few hours of free time give the group a chance to try out the hotel pool and sample a few cocktails, while two surprise events in the middle of the itinerary allow two Caledodreamers to win a seaplane or microlight flyover of the region for the next day. Marion triumphs in a special New Caledonia quiz, while Dario shines during the 100% local flip-flop throwing challenge!
Finally, the day comes to a beautiful end by going back to nature. Emeric from Gecko Évasion guides the group through his property, nestled high in the hills, for an aperitif of charcuterie and French wine with a 360° view of the mouth of the Nera at sunset. Sitting by the fire under a starry sky, the mood is perfectly set for the last surprise of the day. Gulaan, a singer from Maré who recently shared his talent on "The Voice", comes to sit down with the Caledodreamers for a moving acoustic concert.